is a special education Advocate?
A special education advocate is a non-attorney professional
with training and expertise who can assist parents in securing
educational rights for their child with disabilities.
Why hire an advocate?
The process of securing appropriate educational services can
be intimidating, time-consuming, and emotionally-draining.
Parents wish to participate in the decision-making; but often
feel frustrated, overwhelmed and outnumbered at the Planning
and Placement Team (PPT) meetings.
An advocate can help the parents to make sense of the process;
first and foremost by explaining that the parents and the
child have educational rights. At the most basic level, the
child has the right to a free and appropriate public
education (FAPE) and the parents have the right to participate,
on an equal footing with the other members of the team, in
the decision making process that determines the specific educational
program for the child.
An advocate works with the parents in gathering information,
organizing documents, making requests and negotiating with
the school. The parents remain in charge, with the advocate
providing the technical skill to navigate the system.
The ultimate goal of the special education advocate is to
provide the parents with the tools necessary to confidently
and competently advocate, on their own, for their child. The
parents know the child best. The strategies, the negotiating
skills, and the law can be taught, over time, so that the
advocate will no longer be necessary. And eventually, the
parents can teach the child self-advocacy skills, so that
independent living and self-sufficiency can be realized.
East Avenue, Suite 104, Norwalk,
Advocacy Office of Gerri Fleming, LLC concentrates on matters
related to special education and disability protection for
children and young adults. The office is located in Norwalk
in lower Fairfield County, but serves all of Connecticut.
Gerri Fleming is available for consultations on special education
issues under IDEA, FERPA, and section 504. She can also provide
information on Birth to Three services, ADA issues, OCR complaints,
disability harassment/bullying, and transition. Gerri Fleming
is a non-attorney special education advocate providing information,
not legal advice or counsel.