As a teacher Parental/Procedural Safeguards were never really something that I worried about too much. As long as we got it to the parent I considered it to be fine. I will say that this was definitely one of my weaknesses as a Special Education teacher. Because in all transparency, we should be explaining this to the parents and making sure that they have a working knowledge. As a tutor and now advocate, I do my best to make sure that the clients know their rights and have a basic understanding.
The first thing you should know about Parental Safeguards is that they should be given to you at each Annual ARD/IEP meeting (or at minimum, once per year). You should receive a form to acknowledge that you have received them, but honestly, until your questions are answered you don’t have to sign. And you also have the right to ask your questions in the ARD meeting as well.
These are given to parents to ensure that parents are informed about the procedural safeguards under IDEA, meaning your rights and your child's rights. This also includes topics like when to file a complaint, prior written notice, parental consent, access to education records, availability of mediation, and much more. Hopefully, most of which you will not need since many can be worst-case scenario situations. However, it is good to know the basics, since this is your child’s education.
They should be written in understandable language, so while the task may be dull but shouldn’t be too difficult. You should also have access to them in your native language. If it’s not in your native language, the school must get written notice that you are aware of and understand the safeguards.
The first safeguard is that you have a legal right to participate in ARD/IEP meetings for your learner, and you are also able to call these meetings. Really, you’re the one in charge but most schools don’t want you to know that.
Second, you have the right to see and have an explanation of school records for your learner. You can also ask for corrections.
Next, the school must protect confidentiality like name, address, social security number, etc. With some exceptions. Also, while this may seem like common sense, the school must inform you before evaluating your learner and you have to give permission for this to be done.
In addition, the school needs to give you notice before changing your child’s placement. They can’t be in a general education class today and then be in a self-contained class tomorrow without your consent. Regardless of grades, behavior, etc.
Should you disagree with the results of the school testing you have the right to request it be done again, or by an outside source. The school must consider these results of the Independent education evaluation.
If you disagree with proposed changes, then you have the “stay put” protection. But this is a time-sensitive issue and you would need to act quickly.
Lastly, there are dispute resolution options. Should you disagree with the school you can negotiate and talk things out, use mediation via a third party, or go through due process. Due process is usually involving an advocate or lawyer who is representing you and it is overheard by a lawyer (the hearing officer) who acts as a judge in this instance.
You also have the option to file a complaint with the state or the Office of Civil Rights for the U.S. Department of Education. Should you need dispute resolutions, I highly recommend finding an advocate or lawyer first. I know parents are great advocates for their children, but we always want to make sure you have all the information you need.
As usual, these are not the only things covered in the Parental Safeguards. And I’m sure they vary by state. Please look up the ones that apply to you.
Here is the link for the Texas Procedural Safeguards with it translated into about 24 different languages. https://www.spedtex.org/index.cfm/parent-resources/procedural-safeguards/
I’m attaching this document, just in case someone needs to reference any acronyms or isn’t sure what I’m referring to Sped Acronyms and Glossary of Terms. Obligatory disclaimer, please remember this is based on my experiences in Texas and Louisiana. Laws can change so make sure you are referring to your district's and state’s policies and procedures.
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