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PPT Scheduled? Arm Yourself with Education

Getting special education services for your child is all about negotiation.

You haven’t lived until you participate in a Planning and Placement Team (PPT) meeting. Forget every courtroom drama you have ever seen, that’s nothing compared to sitting at a conference table trying to get services for your kid. Without fail, in every PPT, it comes down to one thing: negotiation. However, before you can negotiate, you have to know what you want, and that’s where parents “hit the wall.”

Either the school, or more likely a neuropsychologist, has just evaluated your child and confirmed what you suspected: Your child has a learning issue. If you get this diagnosis, you need to do two things immediately. First, contact the school (if the diagnosis came from an outside source) and get them a copy of the report.  Second, educate yourself on what the diagnosis means and how it inhibits academic performance.  The school will schedule a PPT meeting, so get ready because you are about to enter the parallel universe of Special Education.

For those unfamiliar with this process, a PPT is a meeting of the Planning and Placement Team to discuss a child’s Special Education-Individualized Education Program (IEP). The student’s parents, and what seems like every employee of the school, sit down to discuss what services the school will provide. I have been in dozens of these as a teacher, mom, and student advocate and came out crying twice (and I’m not a crier): Once as a mom, when I was told my son would never go to college (he was in second grade and, yes, he will go to college) and once when I was a classroom teacher when a parent said I shouldn’t be a teacher because I didn’t care about kids (yep, it was all about the huge salary). Thankfully, most PPT experiences are not as dramatic, but you do want to be prepared just in case.

While you are waiting for the PPT, you will need to educate yourself.  Remember “Reading Rainbow” or “Schoolhouse Rock” or whatever that was on Saturday mornings that said “Knowledge is Power?”  I am sure whoever made up that slogan just came out of a PPT meeting. Before the meeting read the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). You can find out all you need to know by going to www.idea.ed.gov . Also, when you receive the invitation to the PPT in the mail it will include information on student’s rights.  Read it! I know you don’t want to, but do it anyway because there may be a pop quiz next week.

Speaking of next week, I will get into what to expect and what you should know at the PPT meeting, so stay tuned. In the meantime, if you have any specific questions about the PPT or IEP, email them to me and I will be happy to answer them.

 Sue Schaefer is a certified teacher, Academic Coach and Student Advocate. We encourage you to visit her website: Academic Coaching Associates and to submit your education questions to Sue at susan.schaefer@academiccoachingct.com.

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