Thursday, October 26, 2017

Parents are the Key - Submitted by Greenville City Schools

Diversity is such a broad concept in our world today. As a society, the idea of diversity is elusive and challenging. Our society has evolved so much in our understanding of equality and how it is impacted by diversity. Our state and federal laws help schools provide rich learning opportunities to diverse groups of learners. Public education receives supplemental funding to address learning needs for diverse learners. One of those laws is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) which has been in effect since 1990, sets strict guidelines for ensuring that all students with disabilities are served in such a way that they have access to the same free and appropriate education as their non-disabled peers.

Thanks to the legislative work of IDEA we have structured standards for providing special education at Greenville City Schools that put parents at the fore front for children. According to IDEA, all special education services start with a clear understanding of how individual learners learn while at school. Schools need parents to know students and what students need to be successful. When partnering with parents, schools can provide learning that is geared to students and their needs. Through the collection of data regarding the student and their learning, teacher-parent teams provide high quality instruction. Typically this process continues for the time that each student is in school. If at any time, a student’s family or teachers suspect that a learning difference exists for a particular student, the teacher-parent team gathers to take a close look at the performance of the student a determine if a disability is suspected. According to IDEA the team must include parents, teachers, and administrators.

Once the team suspects a disability, a multi-factored evaluation is completed. IDEA guides this process with timelines, participants, requirements, and criteria for qualifying as a student with a disability. Once again, the parent-teacher partnership works together to complete the assessment and utilizes the guidelines from IDEA to determine if the student qualifies as a student with a disability.

If the student qualifies as a student, the team works to develop an individual education plan (IEP) for the student that specifically outlines the specially designed instruction for the student’s needs. The supports and services outlined in the IEP are designed by the team and revisited annually to ensure the student’s needs are met in the educational setting.

Educational teams work hard for students throughout the special services process. These teams, including parents, develop and review the IEP plans. Team members, especially parents are able to call IEP meetings to review their student’s progress and services if concerns arise or needs change. The continued conversations of team members is essential to the success of students. As students change and grow, their needs change as well. Parents have the right to request a meeting, revoke consent for specially designed services or request further review of their student’s needs.

The team process is a great tool for students with disabilities. Parent participation is critical to the success of students. The collaboration of IEP teams including parents can dramatically impact the outcomes for students in a very positive way. IDEA outlines the process for parents to select the best options for individual students. Parents are the key to success for all students. If you have a student with a disability, your input into the development and review of the IEP as well as your participation in the IEP meeting is very important to the teachers and staff at Greenville City Schools. Without parents, the parent-teacher partnership is only half as effective. Students with diverse needs benefit greatly from the parent-teacher partnership. If you have any questions about IEP’s or specially designed services, please contact Andrea Townsend at

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