Handling Difficult Special Education Advocates

The laws that govern special education, including the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), permit parents to bring advocates to certain meetings, including IEPT meetings. By and large, advocates are helpful to the process of creating a solid IEPT Report by informing parents of the limits of the district's responsibilities and making suggestions to help parents and districts overcome disagreements. Unfortunately, there is a small minority of advocates who actually interfere with the trust and cooperation necessary for parents and districts to work together to provide disabled students with FAPE.

One clear warning sign is an advocate who sows mistrust between the parents and the district. Some advocates who take this approach then prey on the mistrust they generate by charging parents fees the "services" they provide. There is little a district can do to address this problem, except to politely point out the obvious. READ MORE.

Additional Insights...

Court of Appeals Confirms Teachers May Not Receive Step Or Lane Change Increases During Collective Bargaining

The vast majority of collective bargaining agreements between Michigan school districts and teachers’ unions include step increases (usually based on seniority) and lane change increases (usually based on the level of an employee’s academic achievement).  Prior to June 8, 2011, the Public Employment Relations Act (PERA) had been interpreted to require school districts to pay step increases and lane changes during collective bargaining, even after the collective bargaining agreement had expired.  Thus, school districts incurred increased financial obligations regardless whether or not they had agreed to assume such obligations. READ MORE.