Educational Benefit

Effective advocacy comes from research, planning and preparation. Successful advocates know what is important and what is not worth fighting about.

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What We Do

Educational Benefit, LLC helps parents to navigate the special education process that can often seem confusing and frustrating. By providing information, skill and tools, we assist parents in understanding their child’s unique needs and abilities while protecting that child’s right to a free and appropriate public education.

Federal law mandates that every student will receive a free, appropriate, public education in the least restrictive environment. Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) is an educational right of children with disabilities in the United States. FAPE is defined as an educational program that is individualized to a specific child, designed to meet that child's unique needs, provides access to the general curriculum, meets the grade-level standards established by the state, and from which the child receives educational benefit.

To provide FAPE to a child with a disability, schools must provide students with an education, including specialized instruction and related services, that prepares the child for further education, employment, and independent living.

FAPE Standard

The Supreme Court established two criteria in determining FAPE:

Have the procedures been adequately complied with (compliance)?

Is the IEP reasonably calculated to enable the child to receive educational benefit?

We have a responsibility to ensure that every individual has the opportunity to receive a high-quality education, from prekindergarten to elementary and secondary, to special education, to technical and higher education and beyond.

IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act) of 2004 gave us further conceptual refinements:

Having high expectations for all children

Ensuring access to the general education curriculum and standards in the general classroom, to the maximum extent possible

Preparing children with disabilities to lead productive and independent adult lives

Providing effective transition services to promote successful post-school employment or education

What Advocates Do

Gather Information

Advocates gather facts and information. As they gather information and organize documents, they learn about the child’s disability and educational history. Advocates use facts and independent documentation to resolve disagreements and disputes with the school.

Learn the Rules of the Game

Advocates take time to educate themselves about the local school and district. They know how decisions are made and by whom. Advocates know about legal rights. They know that a child with a disability is entitled to an appropriate education, not the best education, nor an education that maximizes the child’s potential. They know that “best” is a four letter word that cannot be used by parents or advocates. Advocates know the procedures that parents must follow to protect their rights and the child’s rights.

Plan and Prepare

Advocates know that planning prevents problems. Advocates do not expect school personnel to tell them about rights and responsibilities. Advocates read special education laws, regulations and cases to get answers to their questions. Advocates know how to use test scores to monitor a child’s progress in special education. They prepare for meetings, create agendas, write objectives, use meeting worksheets and follow up letters to clarify problems and nail down agreements.

Keep Written Records

Because documents are often the keys to success, advocates keep written records. They know that if a statement is not written down, it was not said. They make requests in writing and write polite follow up letters to document events, discussions and meetings.

Ask Questions, Listen to Answers

Advocates are not afraid to ask questions. When they ask questions, they listen carefully to answers. Advocates know how to use “Who, What Why, Where, When, How and Explain” questions to discover the true reasons for position.

Identify Problems

Advocates learn to define and describe problems from all angles. They use their knowledge of interests, fears and positions to develop strategies. Advocates are problem solvers. They do not waste valuable time and energy looking for people to blame.

Propose Solutions

Advocates know that parents negotiate with schools for special education services. As negotiators, advocates discuss issues and make offers or proposals. They seek “win/ win “ solutions that will satisfy the interests of parents and schools.

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