Step Five: Make Sure Your Child's Accommodations Are Being Followed and Are Working
The level of cooperation and quality of help available from the school varies. Some administrators and teachers will be very supportive, others will not. If you face difficulties getting the necessary support from the school, reach out to the BCPS Special Education department. Generally, they will get involved and help you resolve matters with the school.
If that does not work, you can contact an attorney, but beware that private attorneys are VERY expensive. Start with faster, cheaper and easier ways to get the help you need –- like advancing your concerns to BCPS HQ or using an advocate.
An advocate is a trained professional who can speak for you in school meetings (loudly or softly!) or just serve as an additional advisor/stakeholder at the table. You decide how involved they are. Be sure to choose someone with whom you feel a connection (this will be a very personal relationship), someone who interacts well with your child, and someone who is well versed in special education and ADHD. Don’t choose an advocate based solely on their love of children or teaching experience. You need more than that. If you end up in court, you want someone who knows the ins and outs of the special education process.
We had wonderful success with Dr. Paula McCormick. BCPS's special education department can provide a list of advocates and special education consultants upon request.
Here are some other resources that I found useful:
Special Education Rights Handbook This document is great! It was sent to us by a special education lawyer and it explains the IEP/504 process, what should happen, your legal rights, etc.. It also provides sample correspondence for parents to use.
The MD Disability Law Center Their Special Education Intake Department is available at 410-727-6352 for questions or requests related to special education services for children. They are a good sounding board if you are having difficulties with your school. If you “have a case” they will let you know. If your situation has no legal remedy, they will counsel you on what to do. Generally, they respond to messages within 3 days. But don’t hesitate to follow-up if you don’t hear from someone in 3 days.
In Baltimore County, the Department of Special Education and Student Support Services provides oversight for 504 Accommodation Plans and Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). Their telephone number is 410-887-3660
Special Education resources for parents are available from the BCPS Special Education Resource Center either online or at 410-887-5443. There is also a BCPS ADHD Guide.
Step Six: Avoid These Dead Ends
Meeting after meeting after meeting with the school. It will not take a ton of meetings for you to get a sense of whether your local school is committed to providing the help and support you need for your child. If something feels “not quite right” – go with that feeling. The more quickly you escalate your concerns to the principal, school district, or outside organization (i.e. advocate, attorney) the more quickly you will see results.
Non-profit organizations. While full of good-hearted staff and volunteers, some non-profit and income-based programs lack sufficient staff to handle the volume of requests. You may find yourself standing in the back of a long line when you need help.
If your child is struggling, time is of the essence. If cost is an issue, work through the BCPS hierarchy. If you have the resources to hire private help -– a coach, advocate or attorney -- then do so. It will be worth the expense to have an expert working specifically for you.
Get comfortable with life outside your comfort zone. You may have to become the squeaky wheel so that your child gets the help and support he/she needs to be successful in school. Make sure your child feels your unconditional love. School struggles and being diagnosed with a “condition” can tank a child’s self-esteem and confidence. Make more time for cuddles and fun and don’t live and breathe ADHD. Make some time for you so you can decompress and recharge your battery. Consider joining a support group. It's a great place to find a compassionate shoulder to lean on and share information and ideas. Advocating for your child can be stressful, but remember that your child is counting on you. And, in my experience, prayer definitely helps!
Advocates and Educational Consultants
Please call the advocate or consultant for fees.
Weinfeld Education Group
Dr. Judith Greenberg
School Counseling Group
Dr. Sheila Iseman
Parent's Place of MD, Inc.
Education Consultants, Inc.
Dr. Arthera M. Shell, Ph. D.
Dr. Paula McCormick
Ellie Giles (301) 975-0764
Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA)
Kennedy Krieger Institute - ASK Program (410) 683-2237
Dr. Rose Harper (301) 578-8690
Special Kids Company
AMS Educational Consultation Services
Jerry Malin (410) 653-0899
Terry Koogle (410) 978-5417
Beverly Fleisher, PhD (301) 204-9400
ABCs for Life Success LLC