Parents

Working With Your School

Establishing a good working relationship with your school is crucial to your advocacy for your child with school avoidance.

Your school is part of your team to help get your child back to school.

Teachers in hallway

Working With Your School

Communication, Coordination & Understanding Your Rights

When parents start seeing signs of school avoidance, it’s time to let the school know. You may be unsure if this is the start of an ongoing problem but remember earlier interventions = best outcomes. So, it is worth it to let the school know and see how they may be able to help at this time.

Retroactively looking for help with no notice to the school district can negatively influence possible future support and intervention services.

The following sections cover how to work with your school and your protections under federal and state laws.

Families With School Avoidant Children; Understanding Your Rights

As you work to get your child back to school, you will be engaging with school staff for their assistance. The good news is that there are federal and state laws to protect your child’s rights to a Free Appropriate Public Education. Your local school district also must detail its guidelines and timeframes, so use this information as your roadmap.

Learning Your Rights is an Important Factor For Getting The Proper Help For Your Child's School Avoidance Because:

  • It is often misunderstood; schools may think your child is oppositional, lazy, or manipulative. Sometimes they blame the parents, thinking they are ineffective, permissive, or indulgent.
  • It is a hidden disability (if caused by an emotional disorder or learning difference). It is easier to understand a physical disability. We see it with our eyes. But we cannot see what is going on inside the brain of a child with school avoidance. 
  • It causes confusion with attendance policies. (yes, schools can modify their attendance policies to help get a child with school avoidance back to school).

Some schools are unclear or inexperienced about how to help get your child back to school.

The factors above leave room for misinterpretation, misunderstanding, and mistakes when schools need to adhere to:

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
Federally mandated under the U.S. Department of Education

Section 504
Federally enforced by the U.S. Department of Education and their Office of Civil Rights (OCR)

Who at School Will Be Your First Point of Contact?

When you seek school assistance for your child with school avoidance, your first point of contact depends on your specific situation.

It is your right at any time to:

Request a meeting with the School-Based Intervention Team (a/k/a Student Intervention Team, Intervention & Referral Team, and other similar names). If you cannot find this group, they are known as the Response To Intervention Team (RTI).

  • Request a meeting with the 504 administrator.
  • Request a meeting and/or evaluation with the Child Study Team (accommodation team, student support team, the support team in the special services / special education department.

All requests for assistance should be made in writing. This documents your request to ensure a timely response, actionable assistance, and protects your rights.

Procedural Safeguards; Your Child's Rights

Fostering a professional, courteous and communicative relationship with your child’s school staff will help as you work on strategies to help get your child back to school. But you still must operate knowing that you know your child best. You are your child’s number one advocate.

You should find your state’s

  • handbook for special education parental rights 
  • your state’s school-based intervention guidelines (sometimes listed as Response To Intervention (RTI) guidelines).

Attorney Jose Martin notes; Even if you determine a 504 plan or IEP is what your child needs, you can request assistance from your school intervention team while waiting for responses, requests, decisions, and implementations from the 504 team or your child study team regarding an IEP.

We know how important it is to get assistance and interventions as soon as possible for school avoidance. So, consider getting help from the intervention team while you proceed along toward your other options (504, IEP).

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