What is a FAPE? An interesting perspective…

An interesting comment from a special education attorney I work with often (and, sshhh, kind of like- we often come to compromises) who represents school districts: They asked does the student require something (in this case, a young girl with autism unable to report her day accurately whose parents were not being given equal information, and were therefore unable to be equal team members) and “does the team feel that student requires requires such communication to parent (appropriate, same day) communication in order to receive a FAPE?”. They (attorney and district X) argued no.

My take is “of course”. As a mom and professional, I need to know what happened at school to best support my student at home. Autism doesn’t end at school.

One of the 6 legal components of a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) is Parent Participation.

“IDEA guarantees to parents the following access to information:

Access to their child’s educational records;

Parent participation in all IEP team meetings regarding identification, placement, and educational decisions;

Prior written notice (Anytime anything will be changed in a student’s IEP, their parents must be notified first.);

Procedural safeguards written notice;

Understandable language (Translators must be provided when needed.);

Informed consent (Before any evaluations or services are provided, the student’s parents must be informed and agree in writing before the school can move forward.); and

Right to request independent educational evaluations at public expense”

If a parent is not (reasonably) equally informed, their child is not receiving a FAPE in my lay advocate perspective. This is INTEGRALLY important to students who, because of their disability, can not report their day. (I know this as a parent and professional, on all sides of the table). I want the parents I work with talking to teacher/those who work every day with their children and if an issue is not resolved, then to me. Otherwise, how do moms and dads come to the team meeting table as *equal* participants?

What are your thoughts?

(The above is not written as “legal advice”, as I am not an attorney. It does seem to be “common sense”).