Recently I discovered a wonderful special needs parent resource. I knew they were out there to offer advice, but, thus far I never really felt the need or that it was the right time to access the service. In our state it is called ECAC which stands for Exceptional Children’sAssistanceCenter. Every state has some sort of assistance for parents that are having issues with school districts over services, placement, testing and more. When we were inCalifornia, I never accessed the parent resources because things escalated so fast that we found an advocate and then moved to an attorney. Now that we are inNorth Carolina, I am hopeful to avoid the whole attorney thing; especially because 20/20 hindsight, we didn’t see a whole lot a value from our grand attorney expenditure adventure. We watched our hard earned money fly out the door and saw little payback. Most of what our attorney did was cause the district to sit up and take notice and he performed interference. For $275.00 an hour, I think I could learn to do as he did for us. He did work for us; it just was not really worth the huge total that could have been part of our retirement savings. As I said, hopefully we won’t get to the place where an attorney is necessary. If we do file for a hearing, we will probably represent ourselves. After all, the clients do most of the pulling together of documents that is required and we spoke with the attorney and made decisions step by step as a team. I think if necessary, we could do it this time without the expense.
In any case, I did go to the ECAC parental resource and received quite a bit of good advice and help. I was told what was legally a problem and what was just irritating and we would have to try to overlook. I was given direction for where to find specific regulations that districts must follow and people to contact to pursue matters further. I was also given advice for what steps I should take. At each obstacle, I contacted them again and was given another step to take. Dody has been very supportive, helpful, and she is interested to know what comes of each step we take. It is nice to know I have a place and a person to contact to help me lay out my game plan. After my first call to her, we were fairly convinced that another IEP meeting would take care of the issues because we came to the meeting armed with back up documents and regulations that were broken and regulations that were not being addressed. Unfortunately for us, the district either didn’t think we would keep pursuing these issues, or didn’t understand the regulations completely. After the meeting, I spoke with Dody again and she once again laid out a plan for me to follow through. At this point, I have taken her advice and found some very interesting information and from that I am now filed for mediation with the district and us. We are still hopeful to get the issues resolved at this juncture, but, if not we know our next step to take. I am glad I finally contacted the parent assistance center and I would highly recommend to others that are having school district issues do the same. It is a good starting point. Even if things do escalate to the attorney level, it is good to exhaust all your resources that are available first. Possibly, they can help maintain the situation at a more manageable state for as long as possible. Once the situation gets to the attorney by your side place, you can almost never walk it back again.