Weekly Question! From Special Education Law Blog, Jim Gerl asks,
“As we run our: an Introduction To Special Education Law, what do you think are the easiest ways for a school district or its staff to get into special ed legal trouble?”
Over the years, the biggest reason I think parents want to take schools to court is because no one returns their phone calls. When a teacher or administrator doesn’t return a phone call or respond to a parent, they are sending the message that the parent is not important. Nothing seems to infuriate a parent more than this and I don’t blame them.
I believe that 80% of special education legal troubles could be avoided if we open the lines of communications with the parents/caregivers.
When parents feel that schools are transparent and really want to help their child succeed, most conflicts can be handled locally between the school and the parent. Many times a parent wants to be heard and wants to know that the school is understanding about the problems being faced. The parent doesn’t want excuses but wants some kind of action being taken. Sometimes this action may just be listening to the parent. But most of all, no parent wants to be or should be ignored at any time.
I have found through experience that having a good relationship with the parents really helps avoid any conflicts. This means being in constant communication with them (weekly or biweekly if needed). The parents can contact me and be assured that I will respond. When we work as a team rather than adversaries, the child is more likely to succeed. When changes need to be made, I work with the parent on what needs to happen and the timeframe needed for this. If the parent has reservations about the changes, I listen and sometimes the parent’s input can change how I feel and sometimes I can change how they feel. But most important, they feel a part of the team and their input counts.
How would you answer this question? Please share.