Helping Children and their Families as they navigate the education and healthcare systems.
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My Concern

Blog 3

I attend many Committee on Special Education Meetings (CSE) and Individual Education Plan (IEP) reviews where I meet with school staff to discuss children's academic progress and participate in the planning for the following year. During these meetings I am concerned about how well a child's educational plan is being executed. In some situations it is difficult to hear that there is only a certain amount of time allocated to discuss a child's progress and plans for the coming year. When you arrive for the annual review, it is mandatory that the CSE has current evaluations or progress reports available for you to go over.

Bring a current medical summary with you explaining your child's illness and how it impacts on his or her school performance. It should state what accommodations need to be on the IEP as well as a description of the class that your child would be appropriately served in. Some reviews are being held at the child's school and others are being held at the district office.

The parent must be invited to participate and efforts must be made to select a mutually agreeable date for the IEP meeting; however, the meeting may proceed without the parent provided that documented appropriate outreach was conducted and attempts were made to arrange a mutually agreed upon date and time for the meeting. If the parents indicate that they will be unable to attend and cannot reschedule, they will be informed that they may participate via a telephone conference. Outreach is defined as at least two (2) attempts at telephone contact at different times of the school day, if the parent has a telephone or a follow-up letter sent to the parent by mail and also sent home with the student, if the parent does not have a telephone. All contacts with and attempts to contact the parent (Including copies of all letters) and the reason for the rescheduled appointment. (

When you attend the review; it is stated in the law who has to be present:
(1) A district representative is a representative of the school district who is qualified to provide or supervise special education and who is knowledgeable about the general curriculum and the availability of resources of the school district. The person serving as the district representative may also fulfill the role of another person on the IEP Team (e.g. school psychologist, special education teacher) if they meet all the requirements. 'The district representative when acting as the special education teacher too; may be responsible for implementing the IEP'. (for more information - please look at 'A Guide to Special Education, New York State United Teachers)
(2) The law doesn't mandate that the child's current special education teacher be present in person or by phone; it is always better that the person who knows the child and can give the most appropriate information on how the child is functioning in school be available. If your child's present school hasn't been told of the review, call the school and tell them you would like someone to be available by phone or in person to discuss how your child is functioning in school. You can call the CSE too and make this request.
(3) The student, where appropriate, should participate. Students 14 or older must be invited to participate in IEP meetings where transition planning is or will be part of the IEP.
(4) ' Parent member of the Committee on Special Education must participate. The parent has the right to decline their right to have a parent member participate in the CSE Review. If the parent opts to decline their right for the participation of a parent member, this must be documented by obtaining the parent's signature on the Declination Letter for Parent Members declining the parent member'
(5) A physician, if specifically requested in writing by the parent of the student or by a member of the school at least 72 hours prior to the meeting must participate.
(6) In addition, a translator is required to attend IEP Team meetings if the parent's preferred language or mode of communication is other than English.

I hope the following information will make meetings more productive for you.


Current progress reports or assessments need to be done to proceed with the meeting
If these progress reports or assessments are not complete at beginning of the meeting; say that you feel it is inappropriate to make decisions concerning your child's education and life without this information
Be clear that as soon as the information is complete and submitted to the CSE you will attend a new CSE review meeting
If the district has current information - listen and see if you agree
Take lots of notes - don't be bashful - write away
If you don't agree with the district - tell them that you don't and that you 'can agree to disagree and that you will be requesting another review meeting
Have a current medical summary with you explaining your child's illness and its' impact on your child's school performance
Please call me at (212) 828-3927 or email me at and I can help you combine the medical summary with a child's educational needs in school. You can also visit my web site at
Let the school district know in advance that you are bringing an advocate with you. It is your right to bring anyone you want to the meeting.
CSE's have the right to ask their medical consultant to attend meetings. You also have the right to ask one of your child's physicians to attend a meeting. Sometimes this is done in person and sometimes by a conference call.
Often a health care plan is not in place and there's no school nurse in attendance when a child with health issues is being discussed. I can help you with this.

Planning is supposed to be in partnership with families. What has happened to family involvement in education? It is mandated in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and in the Individual with Disabilities Act (IDEA). The idea of teachers and families working together to benefit students has been here for a long time. Yet, I don't always see this happening! We have had Parent Teacher Associations (PTA) for over 100 years and now have Special Education Parent Teacher Associations (SEPTA) to discuss issues like this. Why isn't teacher and family collaboration happening on a regular basis? Why isn't there enough time allotted for more discussion at meetings where parents are involved? Why aren't communication logs or journals used more often? Why aren't IEP goals changed as needed during the year?


It is getting more difficult to secure private school funding today. Parents should know why they would say, ' I would like to reconvene the meeting.' The answer is - 'when the CSE has all the current assessments or progress reports so that decisions about their child's school and life are made appropriately'. The reason is it is the law.

If the CSE has all the information that is needed and you don't agree with their recommendations. Then you would say that, ' You don't agree with the recommendations and you will put in writing a request for either another CSE meeting, mediation or an impartial hearing. At that point, you can call me and I will help you with the next steps.

I know this is a lot to take in but feel free to call me for assistance. Call me at (212) 828-3927 or email me at

Looking forward to hearing from you.


Patty Weiner