Frequently Asked Questions

August 2018

Dear Parent Consultant,

I had a difficult time working with my child’s school team last year. I am determined to make this year more positive and productive and I’m looking for help. What can I do to be more prepared and be a more active member of my child’s team?
Liam’s Dad

Dear Liam’s Dad,
It’s that time the start of a new school year right around the corner. With the lazy days of summer that allowed us to recharge I encourage you to follow a few tips to get the new school year off to a good start.

Review your child’s IEP. Pages 4 & 5 (present levels of academic and functional performance) are a good starting point for you to focus on. These two pages are the driving force of your child’s individual educational plan. They help the team design your child’s goals and objectives (page 7-based on number of goals may be more than one page 7). The next page to review carefully is page 8-accommodations and modifications section. It’s important that you know what they are and share if age appropriate with your child. If you are not sure what to do with this information feel free to call us and we can help guide you.

Set up a binder. If you haven’t done so already, organize your school records in a binder to keep everything in one place (IEP’s, report cards, progress reports, teacher’s notes, doctor’s notes, etc). You can also add a communication log sheet to keep track of phone calls, emails, notes sent home and meeting notes to name a few. Put it all in writing it’s easy to forget as the months go by, but you can always review your binder.

Organize your calendar. There will be lots going on with the start of a new school year, so the sooner you get into the habit of jotting down important dates the easier it is to keep yourself organized. Important dates to consider: Open House, Back to School Night and Parent Teacher Conferences, PTA/PTO/SEPTA meetings to name a few.
Follow the link for They offer a few worksheets that will be helpful as you prepare for back to school. As always, you can call or email CPAC if you have any questions or concerns.

Make it a great year,
Parent Consultant

June 2018

Dear Parent Consultant,

My daughter, Abby, is 15 years old and has just finished her freshman year of high school. At her annual PPT meeting last week we began discussing transition planning and beginning to prepare her for employment. She will be working on some pre-employment skills in her extended school year program, and I’m wondering what else we can do over the summer to support her in learning these new skills.
Thank you, Abby’s Dad

Dear Abby’s Dad,
It’s great that you want to support your daughter in learning new skills that will help her as she moves toward her future after high school. There are several things that families can do to help prepare students, and the CT CORE Transition Skills ( may give you a few ideas. For example, does your daughter know about her disability and how it impacts her in school? Is she able to make some of her own choices with and/or without adult support? Think about things she can do on her own that you may automatically do for her – like answering for her when someone asks her a question or ordering in a restaurant. Thinking about transition to adult life can be overwhelming for both students and families. We suggest picking one or two skills to work on at a time to reduce anxiety and stress for everyone involved. Most importantly, enjoy the summer!

Parent Consultant

May 2018

Dear Parent Consultant,

I am concerned about my son at school. He really struggles with anxiety and this often results in some challenging behaviors at school. He is academically pretty strong, no learning issues but the anxiety does get in the way of his success at times. He has a lot of trouble with deadlines which make him so anxious he freezes and can’t do anything. Tests and quizzes are the same. He also has very high expectations of himself so sometimes he just keeps correcting his papers and never feels like they are done. This is such a problem because it impacts his grades. He is really able to do the work, but he can’t really demonstrate that to the school. They know he is smart, so they tell me not to worry, but colleges do care about grades and his are terrible. He’s going to high school next year and I’m afraid he will just tank. What can I do? The school says he is too smart to qualify for help.
Sanjay’s Mom

Dear Sanjay’s Mom,
I’m sorry to hear of your son’s struggles. Intelligence or cognitive ability is not the only factor when considering whether or not a student qualifies for support. Section 504 eligibility is based on whether his disability, in this case anxiety, limits a life activity. Learning is a life activity and it sounds like there is a limit or negative impact from his disability on his learning. Section 504 provides a plan with a set of accommodations, which are things that help him to get around his barriers. Special Education qualification is really about whether the student has negative impact as a result of the disability AND the student must require specialized instruction to benefit from the general education curriculum. So, far it sounds like he might not need the specialized instruction to learn, but may need accommodations to help get over the hurdles his anxiety causes. So, one example of a possible accommodation for anxiety might be a planned break, or a card that allows him to take a break if he is feeling overwhelmed. Often a good strategy is to build some time with the social worker or school psychologist to help them when they are feeling especially challenged by their anxiety. Additionally, he may benefit from extended time on his papers or tests, or maybe he will benefit to take his tests and quizzes in an alternative setting? The first step is to request a 504 meeting and get some documentation from the doctor of his disability. At the meeting the team can discuss possible accommodations that might help.

Parent Consultant

April 2018

Dear Parent Consultant,

My son has been on an IEP for the past year. I am new to the special education world. I have heard about progress monitoring and I am not sure how it works with students on an IEP or for accommodations can you help?
Kyle’s Dad

Dear Kyle’s Dad,
Progress monitoring is used to assess students’ academic performance and to measure a student’s improvement or responsiveness to instruction. Progress monitoring also evaluates the effectiveness of instruction. If the rate at which a student is learning seems insufficient, the teacher can adjust instruction. Any accommodations the student needs for test taking, accessing education or learning should be applied.

You are already familiar with the goals and objectives that must be included in the Individualized Education Plan (IEP). A teacher who uses progress monitoring works with the goals in the IEP and the
State’s standards for the student’s grade level. The develop goals can be measured and tracked. The goals can be divided by what the student is expected to learn by the end of the year into shorter measurable steps.

The teacher can measure the student’s progress toward meeting the goals each week with weekly tests that have the same level of difficulty. After each weekly measurement, the teacher compares the student’s performance level to previous measurements, and to how much the student is expected to learn and actual rates of learning. The teacher tracks the measurements on a graph to show success of both the teacher and the student.

If the student is meeting or exceeding the expectation, the teacher continues to teach the child in the same way. If the student’s performance on the measurement does not meet the expectation, then the teacher changes the teaching. The teacher might change the method being used, the amount of instructional time, use different accommodations, use individual instruction versus small-group instruction.

Parent Consultant

March 2018

Dear Parent Consultant,

I am concerned about my child’s new school placement. He is transitioning to High School and when we toured it, we found that the special education classroom is segregated from the rest of the freshman classrooms, as is the entrance for the students who use special education transportation. By using this entrance and going to his class he will virtually never see the other kids except maybe at lunch, if he can tolerate the cafeteria. His Middle School class was in the same hall with the other kids and he was able to go in and out of his general education classroom and didn’t look any different. He is mostly in the one special education classroom but at the bell he could say hi to his friends and he felt connected to them. Now during the bell he won’t have anyone he knows in this hallway as it is mostly upper class courses taught in this hallway. This just feels wrong to me, am I over the top?
Rafael’s Mom

Dear Rafael’s Mom,
I cannot tell if you are over the top, but I hear your concern. In some cases, the separate entrance makes sense if it is appropriate for the child. Some children need a quiet way to enter the building away from the hustle and bustle. Or, a child in a wheelchair may be forced to use the only entrance with a ramp, if there is only one. However, if your child always entered and exited the elementary school with the other kids I would ask why he is being segregated when he doesn’t need such an accommodation in his day. It is absolutely appropriate to ask that he be allowed to enter with his peers. Think of this as a Least Restrictive Environment issue and he is being restricted despite not having the need to do so.
As for the classroom, that is a building and district issue, bigger than a PPT discussion. This might take some time to work out and you would need to approach the leadership of the district to explain your concerns. The leadership might include the Building Principal, Special Ed or Pupil Services Director and the Superintendent. It is also an issue that could go to the Board of Education. It is best to take the approach that you want to work with them to resolve this issue of Equity. I would also start by asking their rationale for putting the special education classroom so far from the typical children and truly listen to their answer. However, be prepared to share how it feels to you and your son to be so segregated coming from an environment that was much more integrated and comfortable in their lower grade schools. Finding other families who share your concern may help to make your point. Any time you wonder if discrimination is occurring, the Office of Civil Rights in Boston will help you to determine if your concerns are of a legal nature.

Parent Consultant

February 2018

Dear Parent Consultant,

My son is in kindergarten and has been experiencing behavioral difficulties at school. He does not receive any special services or supports at school. For the last two weeks, the Principal has called me every day to pick my son up at lunchtime, due to his behaviors. Yesterday, they told me he was suspended and I could not bring him back for 2 days. Is this legal? What can I do to help my son get what he needs at school?

Michael’s Mom

Dear Michael’s Mom,

I am sorry to hear that Michael has been struggling at school. First, because his behavior appears to be significantly impacting his ability to learn and be in the classroom successfully, I suggest that you request a Planning and Placement Team (PPT) meeting and request a comprehensive evaluation to determine if he eligible for special education services. As part of that, a functional behavior assessment (FBA) should also be done, to help the school team develop an appropriate Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP).

In general, Connecticut law does not any permit out-of-school suspension of students in pre-k through 2nd grade – unless the student’s behavior is of a violent or sexual nature. See

In CT, your child can be removed from the classroom up to 90 minutes and it is just called a “removal” anything over the 90 minutes is called a suspension. So, if the school tells you that you must take your child home and remove him from the school, that should be considered a suspension if it means he will be out of the classroom for over 90 minutes. If told to pick your child up and he would miss more than 90 minutes from the classroom, you should ask them if he is suspended first and get appropriate documentation. If he is not, you should not have to pick him up. Also, bear in mind, CT education regulations say: Provision shall be made for the prompt referral to a planning and placement team of all children who have been suspended repeatedly or whose behavior, attendance, including truant behavior, or progress in school is considered unsatisfactory or at a marginal level of acceptance.

This is a lot to process, so please do not hesitate to call our office and speak to a Parent Consultant if you have more questions.

Parent Consultant

January 2018

Dear Parent Consultant,

I am overwhelmed by all my daughter “stuff”. From papers, to evaluations, to meetings and keeping track of it all. Any suggestions to help organize the piles or myself would be greatly appreciated.

Logan’s Dad

Dear Logan’s Dad,

Well first of all know you are NOT alone. There is a whole bunch of parents that feel that exact same way. Secondly, you must, as cliché as sounds, take care of you. Start in small ways that are easier to implement, such as doing a simple breathing technique. You can try this: sit, close the eyes, focus right between the eyebrows and envision a bright golden color. Inhale long, slow and deep for the count of 5 and inhale the same. Do at least three times and extend as look as like. Picture that light getting brighter with every inhale and releasing all your worries into the light with every exhale. Just taking a minute to refocus makes a huge difference.

Another suggestions if feeling overwhelmed is do less! I know sounds counterproductive but go with me here. Give yourself permission to just do the absolute necessities to get through day…drum roll please…for one whole week! I know crazy right! Just let it go. I promise the dishes can wait, the to do list will always be there and leave the “stuff” alone for a break. During this reset time, sleep more, drink more water and indulge in that piece of chocolate or binge watch your guilty pleasure. It is so important to take a pause and even more important to recognize when it is needed but takes courage to actually take the time to do it. Be courageous!

Lastly, the “stuff”. There are several ways to organize it all from binders to boxes. Keep it as simple as possible for yourself. Play with it, pick your favorite color folders, get some fun colored markers for labeling, peek on Pinterest and there are even plenty of apps for tracking. Next, set boundaries. Pick one sections to tackle, what days, a time of day and most importantly how long will work on it. Example, evaluations, Monday & Thursday morning-ish for 20 mins. Then step away! Respect it is a process. It will take a little time but you will get there.

December 2017

Dear Parent Consultant,

My son attends an autism specific program in another town. The transportation company called me to say that due to a change in the bus route he would be getting home a half hour later, making his ride home over an hour. I think this is too long for him to be on the bus, is there anything I can do?

Atticus’ Mom

Dear Atticus’ Mom,

Please contact your Special Education Director, CT regulations state that your child’s travel time to and from a special education placement cannot exceed 1 hour without your agreement. This applies to placements in and out of district. If they have been able to get him home in less than an hour until now it is reasonable to expect that to continue.

November 2017

Dear Parent Consultant,

What steps can I take if I have a question or a disagreement about my child’s Birth to Three Program?

Patricia’s Mom​

Dear Patricia’s Mom,

As you may know, the goal of early intervention is to ensure infants and toddlers with disabilities to have access to high-quality early intervention services that will eventually prepare them to successfully transition to preschool and kindergarten; clarifying your questions and addressing concerns it’s necessary for this goal to be achieved. For this reason, do not wait. Your concerns are valued and you will find that open dialogue and an honest conversation can get you closer to the results you and your child need. First, it is important for you to identify the key personnel in your program that can answer your questions or help you resolve any concern/issue you may have. The quickest and most proactive way to resolve a concern is to talk with your service coordinator.

If you feel uncomfortable doing this you can speak to the program director of your Birth to Three program. If after doing this you still feel the problem has not been resolved you may contact the Family Liaison for Birth to Three. She will help you facilitate a solution to your concern. I want to highlight to you the fact that one of the rights parents have, is the right to file a written complaint or request a hearing. if after trying to get some answers you are not satisfied, you can file a formal written consent or request a hearing. For more information on how to file a formal complaint, visit: or call CPAC at 860-739-3089 we will be happy to help you.

October 2017

Dear Parent Consultant,

My son has reported being bullied by another student at school. At first I thought it was just playful teasing, but it seems to have escalated. This other student has targeted my son repetitively at recess for the last month. What can I do?

Billy’s Mom

Dear Billy’s Mom,

If your son is being bullied, you can file a written bullying complaint to your school’s School Climate Specialist, who will conduct an an investigation. Some school districts have a specific form for bullying and school climate complaints, but the key is to document your concerns in writing. Instead of just saying “bullying,” name the behavior. For example, “My son is being pushed and hit at recess every day.” The more specific details you can provide, the better. When, where, who, what, and how frequently, are important details to help the school investigate the bullying. The school will let you know whether or not they have verified that bullying has occurred.

One important thing to note is that they cannot tell you the consequences that the other student faces. The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) prevents them from sharing this information with you, just as it prevents the school from sharing information about your child with others. If you have any questions about this process, or if your son is a special education student and you have concerns that the bullying is resulting in a denial of FAPE (Free, Appropriate Public Education), then call us at CPAC and we can guide you. I have also included some resources below if you want to learn more about bullying.

September 2017

Dear Parent Consultant,

I recently attended a presentation about transition planning and the presenter mentioned two kinds of goals in the IEP. One was annual goals with short-term objectives and the other was Post-School Outcome Goal Statements (PSOGS). I’m confused. Why does the IEP have two different types of goals?

Confused Parent

Dear Confused Parent,

Yes, having two different types of goals in the IEP can be confusing, and this is a common question. We hope this helps:
Measurable annual goals and short-term objectives are used to estimate what outcomes a student is expected to achieve in an academic year. In Connecticut, you will find these goals and objectives on Page 7 of the IEP document. Most students have multiple goal and objective pages.

August 2017

Dear Parent Consultant,

My child is about to start another year of school and I want to know how we can prevent the downhill spiral she has each year. She is going in to 11th grade and every year she tends to start out fairly strong and as the year progresses she loses heart. She gets to the point where she just doesn’t want to go to school. The work gets more intense and social situations get more intense and she just becomes overwhelmed. She has been labeled a chronic truant and interventions have not really helped. We are forever trying to “fix” things after the fact and this year I want to be ahead of the issue. There are enough years of this pattern to show it is a pattern and I don’t know what to do to prevent it from happening again, can you help?

Maria’s Mom

Dear Maria’s Mom,

Unfortunately this is all too common a story. We do help families with this issue but every student has different things that create anxiety or overwhelm them. The best thing we can suggest is to call our office and discuss your child’s unique situation and we can help you to work with school staff to try some preventative measures. One thing we often suggest for high school students is that you and your daughter sit down with each teacher as early in the year as possible to discuss what this looks like and how she is feeling. Perhaps there are signs even earlier, before they get too out of control? Then when everyone is aware and keeping an eye out, the team may be able to catch it before it gets out of hand. There may be more hope in preventing the eventual school refusal situation if all of her teachers are aware of her struggles. We know for some students that feeling connected to staff, knowing that school staff genuinely do care if they are attending, or not, can help them feel more grounded and maybe reach out when they are feeling overwhelmed. Please call us to discuss brainstorming some ideas to share with the school team.

June 2017

Dear Parent Consultant,

My son is in fifth grade and glued to his iPad. I sometimes feel as though I recognize the top of his head more readily than his face. We have limits on the time he is allowed to spend online, but with summer approaching, I am concerned about regression as he spends 10 weeks playing video games.

Ryan’s Mom

Dear Ryan’s Mom,

I certainly sympathize with you! Separating a child from their video game is a feat worthy of an Olympic medal! Rather than completely removing the iPad, include access to some educational apps in addition to Pokémon. There are many opportunities for children to learn and have fun at the same time. Many are designed as competitive so Ryan could perhaps challenge siblings or friends.
An advantage to using an app as an educational tool is the privacy of the progress from friends. If Ryan is still struggling with comprehension and reading Harry Potter is still below his reading level, games can be a way to improve those skills without everyone knowing he’s not carrying a grade level book.

The website, offers a nice selection of free apps with additions available for a fee. They are all broken down by grade level.

If you are looking for apps beyond Apple only products, offers apps for android, and google as well as Apple. Good luck and join the fun – challenge your child on his progress over the summer.

May 2017

Dear Parent Consultant,

My son has been struggling with writing assignments in school, to the extent where he has developed severe anxiety and refuses to go to school. He is diagnosed with dysgraphia and dyslexia. His writing is slow and labored, and consistently unreadable. He has poor spelling , punctuation, and grammar. He already gets specialized instruction, Occupational Therapy, and extended time for writing assignments, but it just doesn’t seem to be enough. Is there something else we can do to help him keep up with writing assignments, perform better and reduce his anxiety?

Zachary’s Mom

Dear Zachary’s Mom,

I am sorry to hear about Zachary’s writing difficulties and the anxiety it is causing him. The good news is, there are things that can be added to his plan that can help! In addition to the supports he has in place, there are other accommodations that may be helpful, such as use of graphic organizers, sentence starters, and even breaking down writing assignments into smaller pieces. Some students can type notes for class, rather than write them, often using word-prediction software. Zachary may benefit from other assistive technology like speech-to-text software. Here is a great article that explains how assistive technology can help students like Zachary:

I hope you find these ideas helpful. If you have more questions or you want to learn more about getting assistive technology into Zachary’s plan, please call CPAC at (860)739-3089.

April 2017

Dear Parent Consultant,

I am feeling overwhelmed, emotionally and physically, caring for my daughter, Nina. Nina is 22 months old, has Down Syndrome and is in Birth to Three. She also has a few medical conditions. I am struggling to keep it all together. Nina is the joy of my life and truly do love taking care of her. However, I am feeling extremely isolated. Could you please offer any resources to connect with other families?

Nina’s Mom

Dear Nina’s Mom,

There are a few ways you can start to connect with other families. One is CPAC, we have a mentor program called Family Connections, where you will be matched with a parent whose child has finished Birth to Three. This is a great way to have some conversations with a parent that just “gets it”. Many parents can share resources and offer connection over a brief period.
For long term connection and support I would highly recommend you reach out to CT Down Syndrome Congress. They offer conferences and have an annual walk where you can meet many families. They also have social media links, which can offer quick access when you need to touch base.

Remember they are great resources at many of libraries. On the tough days, I find just taking a few minutes to stop at a coffee shop and sit down just to be around people sometimes is enough. I hope this offers some guidance. Best of luck on your new adventures & grab that coffee…who knows who you will meet in line!

March 2017

Dear Parent Consultant,

My son is a senior in High School and would like to attend his senior prom, but he will need assistance. He needs someone to feed him and help him with toileting. The principal said he can only attend if I go with him because they will not provide a paraprofessional for him outside of school hours.

Kirk’s Mom

Dear Kirk’s Mom,

Prom is a school sponsored activity that is open to all seniors. The district is required to provide the support your son needs to be included. It may not be his regular support staff so they should also provide training to ensure your sons safety while being fed and toileted. I hope he has fun, take lots of pictures.

February 2017

Dear Parent Consultant,

My son Aidan receives early intervention through Birth to Three; he will be three years old in the fall. Who is responsible for providing early intervention once he turns three and what can I do to prepare for this transition?

Aidan’s Mom

Dear Aidan’s Mom,

Since you child is enrolled in Birth to Three, it is possible that he or she is might be eligible for early childhood special education at age three. Your school district and the State Department of Education will receive your child’s information, along with your contact information. If you are interested in having your child receive early childhood special education services at age three, Birth to Three will submit a formal referral to the school district to hold a transition conference meeting. It is important to know that a transition conference should take place at least three months (90 days) before your child turns three but it may be as early as nine months prior to age three.

The school district is responsible to hold a Planning and Placement Team (PPT) meeting where the Team will decide whether your child is eligible for early childhood special education services. You are a member of this team. You will use information available from Birth to Three and the school may conduct their own evaluation with your permission. If Aidan is found eligible, the school district is responsible for providing special education and related services to your son. Finally, if your child is found eligible for services, the Team will develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for Aidan. This is expected to start on or before his third birthday.

To help you prepare for transition, I suggest that you start planning early. Transitions are easier when we plan them. There will always be some unknowns, and we can count on something unpredictable happening. Be prepared to share what you know about Aidan’s strengths and weaknesses and learn about your child’s rights. You can speak directly to one of our Parent Consultants to learn more about the Special Education Law IDEA, its mandates and protections for students with disabilities. Also, remember to be open. Enter the transition willing to learn new information and to be flexible enough to change. Talk about your expectations and identify your priorities.

January 2017

Dear Parent Consultant,

Although my daughter Kate has an IEP, she has been struggling in school for a long time. This past spring, we took her to Yale Child Study for a bunch of testing. The testing showed that she had a low IQ and is on the autism spectrum. When we presented this information to the school, they said they wouldn’t accept it and that she was not due for her big triennial testing for another year, her label of Emotional Disturbance and current program would remain the same. She has made no progress and we are really worried about her future. What can we do?

Kate’s Mom

Dear Kate’s Mom,

We are so sorry to hear that Kate has been struggling. We believe that armed with good, current information about her strengths, her areas of concern, and your goals for where you see her in the years ahead; Kate can do amazing things. This information is critical to planning an appropriate program and tracking progress.

The PPT is required to do reevaluations on your child at least every three years but must also consider doing new evaluations at any time if there is a reason, for example lack of progress. They are also required to consider all the information families bring to the table. Together, the team (which includes you) creates programming to help her reach these goals using current data and evaluation information. We recommend that you share a copy of these reports with the PPT ahead of the meeting and ask the folks at Yale to participate (even by phone) at the PPT to review their findings.

The conversation should focus on addressing priorities which utilize her strengths and thoughtfully address her weaknesses in-order to move her towards your ultimate goals for when she leaves school. If the school is unwilling or unable to conduct their own evaluations and will not accept the reports you submit, you can exercise your Procedural Safeguards which include Mediation, Due Process or even the right to another Independent Evaluation. Current evaluation information is the foundation of an appropriate program and it is crucial to measuring progress and meeting her individual needs.

December 2016

Dear Parent Consultant,

My daughter attends a Catholic school in a neighboring town. This year she started third grade and is beginning to have some problems. Is there anything that can be done?

Mairin’s Mom

Dear Mairin’s Mom,

Because you have voluntarily placed your child in a private school the special education laws work differently than if she was in your local public school, or even a magnet of charter school. For children placed by their parents in private school there is no right to a free appropriate public education. There are, however things that can be done. IDEA requires that local school districts identify children in their area who may have disabilities. This means that the local public schools must look at your child, meet with you and determine if she needs to be evaluated, and if so make sure she is tested to determine her educational strengths and weaknesses.

It is important to know that it is the town where her school is located, not the one where you live that must do this. They must then meet with you and people form her school to develop a plan to address her needs. They are not required to provide the education. They must however, spend a small percentage of the special education money they receive from the Federal Government on students who are in private schools. You do not have an individual right to any of that money, and because she is in a religious school it will be very important to make sure that none of the money is spent to further religious activities. All you need to do to start is to contact the special education department in the town where the school is located to get the ball moving.

November 2016

Dear Parent Consultant,

My daughter is 16, and at our last PPT meeting the team began planning for secondary transition. We agreed on some goals and objectives that address transition skills, but I’m wondering how I will know if she is making progress on secondary transition goals and objectives?

Faith’s Mom

Dear Faith’s Mom,

It’s great to hear that your daughter’s team has created goals and objectives to support her as she moves toward secondary transition. The process of monitoring progress on measurable annual goals and objectives that address secondary transition is not that much different than general goals and objectives. The process begins with a PPT to discuss transition planning and the creation of measurable annual goals and objectives addressing secondary transition. The district will use assessments to determine the student’s strengths, needs, and preferences and will use that information to determine the student’s Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance (see pages 3 & 4 of the IEP). The team will then create a transition plan that includes input from the student, Post School Outcome Goal Statements in the area of postsecondary education and training, employment, and independent living (if appropriate), and the course of study need to help the child reach his/her transition goals (see page 6 of the IEP). From there goals and objectives will be developed to address the student’s needs and support the student in eventually meeting their post-school goals. The district will then monitor the progress as they do with all measurable annual goals and objectives and will make adjustments based on that data.

October 2016

Dear Parent Consultant,

My daughter is in fourth grade. She gets special education services. We moved to this country ten years ago and my English is still not so good. Sometimes during her special ed meetings I do not understand what the teachers are saying. I can’t understand all the papers they give me. Most of the time I just nod my head and smile and sign the papers Is there anything I can do to be able to understand what is going on better?

Fatima’s Mom

Dear Fatima’s Mom,

Understanding what is going on in PPT meetings can be confusing for English speakers too, but please know that your school is required to make sure that you are able to understand what is going on in a language you understand. Tell your PPT chair and or special Education Director that you are having trouble understanding. If you need an interpreter the school is required to provide you with one. Also, you can request that copies of the documents be made available in your language, but they are not required under the law (IDEA) to provide them.

However, they need to ensure you have been “fully informed” and by providing the translation in your dominant language, if requested can demonstrate that you have been. If they cannot translate the documents they can at least have someone explain it to you in a language you understand. You are integral member of the team that helps design your daughter’s education program, so it is important that you are fully informed and are able to follow the information, and understand why the programs they are using are in place, as well as how they are working for your daughter.

September 2016

Dear Parent Consultant,

My child has been struggling with learning to read for two years. She has all of the red flags for dyslexia, including the genetic connection to family members who have been and her mother and two uncles were diagnosed with it when they were in school. I talked to her teacher, the principal and the SRBI interventionist and I am not getting anywhere. She has gone through tier 3 of SRBI for the last half of last year and the school staff still isn’t referring her to a PPT. She is very bright, and they say she could do more, if only she tried. But she does try, she tries harder than any child I’ve ever seen. She is smart, and she’s smart enough to know she’s not catching on like everyone else. What can I do?

Marguerite’s Dad

Dear Marguerite’s Dad,

It sounds like it is time you make an official referral to a Planning and Placement Team meeting to see if your child may be eligible for special education services. You can write a letter or use the state’s referral form to request this meeting. At this meeting you can request a comprehensive evaluation of your daughter for a learning disability. You may use the state’s frequently asked questions related to identifying and educating students with dyslexia. That will tell you which areas of reading need to be assessed so as to truly identify the disability, if it is there. If you request a PPT meeting, then at the meeting you can request and discuss the tests listed on the FAQ. The results of these tests will help you and the rest of the team to determine if she is a student with a reading learning disability and in what area she needs support to learn to read. This process is supposed to be completed in 45 school days.

August 2016

Dear Parent Consultant,

My son, Tyshawn, has just finished 9th grade. He has an IEP with the primary disability category of Emotional Disturbance (ED). He has some major behaviors, including some events that required police involvement. Tyshawn doesn’t make the connection between his behavior and the results. I’m not sure how he will hold a job if he doesn’t understand that life comes with work and responsibility, and I am afraid he will become a criminal if we don’t help him now. How do I help prepare my child for the demands of adult life? I am desperate and need help!

Tyshawn’s Dad

Dear Tyshawn’s Dad,

I hear your concerns and have a few ideas. Given Tyshawn will be going into 10th grade and should be 16, or approaching 16 soon, I would focus on his transition planning to make the changes you would like to see. By his 16th birthday, or sooner if needed, Tyshawn’s IEP needs to be revised to focus on planning for his transition to adult life with goals in the areas of employment, postsecondary education, and independent living (if appropriate). All of the issues you raise can be brought into this conversation with Tyshawn and school staff. Focusing initially on Tyshawn’s interests and whether he is thinking about any kind of additional education or training after high school, and helping him identify the steps needed to get there. Ultimately the discussion is about helping him plan for his own future; and to know what the path might be to help him reach the goals he sets. As a group you can figure out how to help him make those connections and discuss what he will need to do to be a productive and independent adult. This is a critical time for planning, and Tyshawn’s goals and dreams need to be at the center of the plan.

June 2016

Dear Parent Consultant,

We had our annual review for my daughter’s IEP and I strongly disagree with the IEP that the district proposed. I believe that she needs more services. What can I do?

Catherine’s Mom

Dear Catherine’s Mom,

Your Procedural Safeguards give you several dispute resolution options. First, we recommend meeting with the team again to discuss your concerns. The school should have provided you Prior Written Notice (on page 3 of the IEP) as to why they denied your request for more services. Prior Written Notice should state the action proposed or refused by the school. There should also be an explanation of why it was refused and on what evaluation procedure, test, record, or report they based the decision. There should be a description of any other options that were considered and reasons why those options were rejected. Prior Written notice is important because it has detailed information to help a parent understand why there is a disagreement. If you review Prior Written Notice with the team and are still unable to reach an agreement, you have the right to request Mediation or Due Process.

May 2016

Dear Parent Consultant,

I am in need of a parent advocate. I’m concerned that Julia has Asperger’s, in addition to ADD, and is in need of an evaluation. I don’t understand the process and what to say during meetings. During our 504 meeting, the school brought up whether I had taken her anywhere to get tested. What can I do or say to get help? We cannot afford an evaluation and I feel she needs one.

Julia’s Mom

Dear Julia’s Mom,

At CPAC, we understand how overwhelming big (and even small) school meetings can be: As parents of students with disabilities, we have sat at many PPTs and conferences ourselves. But we are here to help. We would be happy to talk to you about the steps you can take to make a referral to the school, what to expect at the meeting and beyond. Call us, we are here Monday through Friday between 9:00 – 4:00 and can schedule a mutually convenient time to connect.
In the meantime you may make a written referral to the school to request a PPT to discuss your concerns and what information is still needed in order to determine an appropriate program for Julia. If the Team decides that it is not going to order the evaluation you may then request an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) at their expense. They must then either take steps to help you find someone to perform the evaluation, or file for a due process hearing in which they must prove that the evaluation is unnecessary to enable them to provide Julia with FAPE.

To do this, you can use the referral form in the Parent’s Guide to Special Education.

For more information on the referral process, please check out our website:

April 2016

Dear Parent Consultant,

My son is in the second grade, and has an IEP identifying him as having ADHD. Last Friday the school told me that I needed to come pick up my son. When I did, they told me that he could not return to school until I attended a meeting with the vice- principal in two weeks. I asked if he was suspended, and they told me “no, he just can’t come in until we have a chance to talk about him and this problem

They told me he was late to class and when his teacher sent him to the office because he didn’t have a pass my son was belligerent and borderline aggressive. Can they do this? What can I do?

Nate’s Dad

Dear Nate’s Dad,

Wow there is a lot going on there, and you and your son have many ways to protect his rights. First, despite what they told you if a child is removed from school it is legally considered a suspension. Further, Connecticut has decided that students in Kindergarten through 2nd grade should not be subject to out of school suspensions, unless the student is engaging in behavior that requires discipline and poses a danger to people or property. That means you have a right to hear how borderline aggressive behavior meant a real threat to the teacher or his classmates.

As important, as a child with and IEP your son has additional rights. Any time a student is suspended for more than ten days in a school year Connecticut considers it to be an expulsion. Since he was sent home on Friday and the administration can’t meet for two weeks it means he will be out for more than ten days. That means two things, the IDEA considers an expulsion to be a change in your child’s placement, something that only his PPT can do. So before he has been out for ten days the school must conduct a PPT that includes a manifest determination hearing. That is a hearing to determine if your child’s behavior was the result of his disability. If it is then they cannot expel him. They must immediately conduct a Functional behavior assessment to determine the cause of his behavior and to allow the PPT to develop a program that will help him correct it. That plan becomes part of his IEP.

If the Manifest Determination Hearing finds that his behavior is not the result of his disability then he can be expelled. But the story does not end there. He is still entitled to a free appropriate public education. So a PPT, usually the one that conducted the hearing must create a program that specifies what regular education, special education and related services he will receive, and where he will receive them.

March 2016

Dear Parent Consultant,

We just held our annual PPT for my son Jake and when I received the IEP in the mail, my request for an independent evaluation was not recorded anywhere within the IEP. I’m confused as to why it is not recorded there as I thought that we have decided we would be moving forward with this? I feel strongly that this is important information for us to collect in order to plan for the most important program for Jake. What should I do?

Jake’s Mom

Dear Jake’s Mom,

We understand your confusion. In the IEP, on page #3, the Prior Written Notice (PWN) under actions proposed and/or actions refused, this conversation about your request for an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) should be documented with the reasoning for the proposed actions.This is true of any request you might make. If the district has agreed to the request for an IEE, they would record the kind of testing to be done and they may provide you with their written criteria for evaluators. If they refused your request, this too should be documented and would require the district, without delay, to file for due process hearing to show that its evaluation is appropriate. You can find more information about IEE in Procedural Safeguards Notice: . We recommend emailing or writing to the person in charge of your PPT meeting and asking him or her about the missing information and requesting that the IEP be changed to include the request and the team’s agreement. If needed you can ask for another PPT to specifically discuss and record your request for the IEE. Please don’t hesitate to call us if you need help.

February 2016

Dear Parent Consultant,

My child was identified with dyslexia two years ago and has made almost no gains in his reading skills since then, despite receiving many hours of special education instruction. When I ask the school what else can be done, they indicate they are doing all they can and he has many hours of instruction. I cannot let my child continue to fail and I don’t know what else I can do. Do you have any suggestions?

Mario’s Dad

Dear Mario’s Dad,

I may have a few ideas for your team to discuss. One question I have for you to ask the team is what approach they are using to address his dyslexia? Using a research based approach is the best way to expect and get results. That approach must be used as it was designed. What I mean by that is that often parents report that they are told “we are using various programs to help him, little pieces of different reading programs” that is not often going to be as any research based program is designed. A research based approach must be administered “with fidelity” or true to the original plan. Ask your team which approach they are using and whether it is being used as designed and consistently applied. Additionally, is the teacher well trained in the use of this program? Is there a certification process and is he or she certified? A true research based program will include ongoing data collection to see how the child is progressing, ask for this data as well, current and in the future. Also, you can ask that if this approach has been so unsuccessful for so long, have we changed the approach? Ongoing progress monitoring is key and changing interventions that are unsuccessful is also key to helping students succeed. I hope this gives you a place to start your next conversation at the PPT about your child’s lack of progress.

January 2016
Dear Parent Consultant,

My daughter is in fourth grade and is not having a good year. I believe that the people in her school just dont’ know what to do with her and it is not working. What do I have to do to get her into a special education outplacement?

Maria’s Mom

Dear Maria’s Mom,

Well, there are many steps that need to happen before a student should be considered for an outplacement. The IDEA requires that a student be educated in the class where she would be if if she did not have a disability unless it is not possible for her to receive an appropriate education there. They are then required to have a range of options for her placement including things like separate classes in the local schools, resource rooms etc.. Private placements are considered very restrictive settings and the Planning and Placement Team members are expected to choose the Least Restrictive Environment for the student, based on the child’s unique needs. Therefore, careful consideration should be given to what those needs are and in what setting they could be met that still affords them maximum access to general education peers and curriculum.

You can start your thought process on this by asking yourself: what specifically was the reason she “is not having a good year”? How do you know that, what data is there to support that? Is she reaching grade level benchmarks? How is her behavior? Does she have positive relationships with peers and adults at school? Is she making progress and mastering her IEP goals? Look through any emails or notes you have from school staff, is there information there that shows they agree she is not being successful? In addition, talk to them about her current level of success in her program. Are there things that can be changed in her current program to improve her success? Has the team tried everything they can think of to do? Before moving her to an out of district program, placement in district in a more restrictive setting like a resource room or self contained classroom should be discussed.

After you review all the existing data and discuss this with the school staff you will have a better sense of the most appropriate setting for your child. You may want to consider asking for placement in an out of district private placement if you find data that supports her needs are not being met and the district has provided all they possibly can, therefore concluding she requires a more restrictive setting.

December 2015
Dear Parent Consultant,

I recently attended a PPT for my son who has been identified by a developmental specialist as having autism. At the PPT I requested that his primary disability category on the IEP be changed from developmental delay to autism and the team refused. They said that medical diagnosis is not the same as an educational label and they didn’t think he really had autism anyway. Can they just disregard his medical diagnosis and determine he doesn’t have autism because they don’t feel he has it?

Steven’s Mom

Dear Steven’s Mom,

You ask a very important question. On one hand, they are correct; a medical diagnosis is not necessarily the same as a primary disability category. The medical diagnosis, however, can be used as one piece of data when determining an appropriate disability category chosen by the entire team. Keep in mind that it is not necessary to have a diagnosis at all in order for the team to apply an educational label. The second part of your question about ignoring the diagnosis is a little trickier. The decision about which disability category to choose should be based on evidence, or data and which reflects the foremost concerns of the student. If they disagree with one piece of data (the Dr.’s diagnosis) they should attempt to provide alternative, high quality data that supports their belief of the child’s true needs, opinion alone should not be the foundation for that decision. It is a good practice for the team to use descriptive terms from accurate and current evaluation reports which show how the unique needs of the child impact their educational performance, and from there an appropriate category should be chosen. It is important to note is that the IEP is to be developed reflecting ALL of the child’s unique needs, regardless of whether it is related to their primary disability category or not. Having everyone in agreement from the beginning on what the child’s unique needs truly are will go a long way in preventing disputes down the road.

November 2015
Dear Parent Consultant,

My daughter is scheduled to receive speech services for 45 minutes twice a week as written in her last IEP. Her Speech Language teacher has been out on maternity leave since September and it is now December and there has been no one to provide her speech. I have spoken to her teacher about my concerns but she says they cannot find anyone. She really needs this support. What can I do?

Trish’s Mom

Dear Trish’s Mom,

We understand your concern. The Planning and Placement Team (which includes you) determined that Trish needs speech and language services in order to make progress on her IEP goals. Have you discussed your concerns with the entire team, including your district’s Special Education or Pupil Services Director? Some related service providers, especially speech and language therapists, are in short supply but the services still need to be provided. You and the team should talk about additional steps to identify a qualified therapist; this may include contracting with an independent therapist in the community. Some places to suggest might include a hospital, your local Regional Education Service Center (RESC), Birth to Three providers, or private providers.
You should also talk with the team about how the missing therapy or instructional time will be provided; this is usually referred to as compensatory services. If you are unable to reach agreement about how the missing services will be provided, you may want to consider dispute resolution options. In this situation you could make a written complaint to the State Department of Education, Bureau of Special Education, or request mediation.

October 2015
Dear Parent Consultant,

My son Alex is in second grade and has been struggling since kindergarten. He is having a hard time reading basic words and even writing his name. He has begun complaining about going to school and lately his teacher has called us concerned about him not following directions in the classroom and goofing around. He had difficulty last year and we had some meetings where they talked about screenings and trying different interventions but this year just seems to be worse. He is a bright boy who is eager to please but he just doesn’t seem to be getting it. How can I help him?

Alex’s Mom

Dear Alex’s Mom,

We’re sorry to hear about Alex’s struggles but glad you contacted us. It sounds like you may need to make a formal referral to his school requesting some specific information about where he is having difficulties. To do this, you can use the referral form in the Parent’s Guide to Special Education.

We would be happy to assist you in filling this out. Upon receipt of your referral, the district will schedule a PPT (Planning and Placement Team Meeting). At the PPT, you and the school will meet to talk about what information you already have about how Alex learns and what other information is needed in order to plan for his needs. For more information on the referral process, please check out our website:

September 2015
Dear Parent Consultant,

The school keeps telling me that my child is not making progress meeting his objectives and they keep trying to lower the performance criteria. I do not think it is right that they keep lowering expectations for him but they tell me I am being unrealistic. How do I know if I am expecting too much for my child?

Brian’s Mom

Dear Brian’s Mom,

It is a reasonable expectation for you to see your child continue to grow and make progress every year. Your child’s goals should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Action Based, Relevant, Time Sensitive) and based on current evaluation data (classroom assessments, DRAs, standardized testing). The school should be using scientifically researched based instructional methods when teaching your child- methods of teaching with proven results. If the PPT feels that the goals were important enough to address in the IEP, the team should look at the goals and objectives to find out where there are specific problem areas in achieving them. Things that the team could consider are the type of intervention, the frequency of the interventions and how they are provided (ex. group size, location etc.). More intensive instruction and more frequent progress monitoring may be required to reach these goals. If this approach is unsuccessful, perhaps personnel with expertise in the area of concern should be brought in to support the team.

August 2015
Dear Parent Consultant,

My 7 year old son receives special education services but I really don’t think he has made any progress this past year. I’m not sure what kind of supports he is getting in school and when I go to the meetings things happen so fast I’m not sure what’s been decided. I would like an advocate to go into the school with me to get him what he needs. I feel overwhelmed.

Drew’s Mom

Dear Drew’s Mom,

We’re so glad you contacted us!
At CPAC we, too, are parents of children with disabilities and know how overwhelming it can be as an active participant in your child’s education. But we believe that you, as Drew’s mom, know him best and can be his most effective advocate now and in the years to come. Your involvement is not only important to his success; it is expected under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), the federal special education law. We can help you understand the steps to take, develop the questions to ask and work through your concerns, while promoting regular communication with his school team. Learning about what the law expects and how to work together to ensure that Drew is receiving an appropriate program is an ongoing and empowering process and we can support you. It is always a good idea to bring someone like a friend or family member with you to your PPT meeting to help you feel calm, focused and help make sure you get all your questions are answered. So pull out his most recent IEP (Individualized Education Program) and call or email us.

June 2015
Dear Parent Consultant,

This year was really tough for all of us. Anytime I tried to share resources or ask the school team questions they thought I was trying to tell them how to do their job. I wasn’t trying to do that, I just wanted to help them understand my daughter’s needs better. She wasn’t being successful and I know none of us wanted that, so I thought I was being helpful. What can I do differently so that the team understands that this is not a judgement of them? I don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want to learn more in order to be more effective in their job?

Sammy’s Mom

Dear Sammy’s Mom,

This is something we hear very often. I know your intent was to help your child, but as you can see from your last sentence, when you share these resources the teachers might feel that you believe they are not effective in their job, and that is why they may be defensive. However, it is also a very positive thing that you want to be a part of the team and share information that might be meaningful. So, the question becomes; how can you do that without putting them on the defensive? We often recommend trying to meet with individual team members, or as a group, as early in the fall as possible. Be proactive and preventative in your approach. Let them know you want to be involved, that you often research useful information to help your child and ask them – What is the best way to share new information should you have something valuable to share? And listen to them. Also ask how you can have ongoing meaningful communication with the team members all year. You want two-way communication regarding your child’s education. Lastly, be thoughtful and respectful, don’t overload them with emails or new resources, and share relevant information assuming the team has agreed and is open to it. Having positive relationships with your child’s team is one of the most important things you can do to promote success for your daughter.

May 2015
Dear Parent Consultant,

I am writing about my daughter, Michelle, who is 15 years old and a freshman in high school. She has a learning disability and struggles with anxiety. She receives special education services. Her annual Planning and Placement Team meeting (PPT) is coming up. While trying to schedule the PPT with her special education teacher, she mentioned that Michelle should attend the PPT meeting. When I disagreed because I have concerns about Michelle’s anxiety around attendance at meetings, the teacher told me it was the law and that Michelle was REQUIRED to attend. I did some research and cannot find any place in the law that says that students are required to attend. Am I missing something?


Dear Michelle’s Dad,

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) indicates that a child with a disability should be included as a member of the IEP Team (or PPT in Connecticut), whenever appropriate. Additionally, if the purpose of the meeting is to discuss postsecondary goals and transition services then the district must invite the child to attend. There is a place for the district to record this information on the Transition Planning page of the IEP (Page 6). You will also see that there is a place on the Transition Planning page to record how the student’s preferences/interests were determined. IDEA does not indicate that the student is required to attend, but it is best practice for the student to attend at least some of their meeting. Attending their meeting is a great way to learn and practice self-advocacy skills and aligns with the CT CORE Transition Skills (

    As a way of beginning the process, here are some suggestions for ways students can participate in their meetings:

  • Attend the first or last 20 minutes of the meeting and share their likes and dislikes.
  • Work with a teacher or family member to write an essay about preferences/interests to read or have someone else read in the meeting.
  • Make a poster or PowerPoint presentation representing preferences/interests or record a short video to be played during the meeting.

It’s never too early to begin. Even a preschool student can attend their meeting for a few minutes to share what they like about their program.

For more information please contact CPAC.

April 2015
Dear Parent Consultant,

Last week I spoke to my son’s principal about his program for the summer. He told me that they only offer a half day of school for 4 days a week for six weeks in the summer. I do not feel that that is enough support for Will. He has made slow progress in meeting his IEP goals this year and I do not want to see him fall further behind. What can I do to help ensure that he is getting the help he needs this summer so this fall he can start fourth grade on the right track?

Will’s Mom

Dear Will’s Mom,

Services that are needed beyond the regular school year for students who receive special education services are called ESY (Extended School Year Services). Decisions about the need for ESY services are made by the PPT (Planning and Placement Team), which includes you as a parent. I would recommend making a written request for a PPT meeting to discuss this as soon as possible. The PPT conversation should focus on Will’s individual needs and the information you have about how he learns. The Team should consider factors such as: his overall performance and progress this past school year on his IEP goals, specific skills that need continuous attention and how his learning is impacted during school breaks or vacations. If the PPT decides that he needs specialized instruction during the summer in order for him to continue to receive an appropriate program (or FAPE), services and supports must be documented in his IEP (Individualized Educational Program).
For more information about CT’s guidance about Extended School Year (ESY) services, you may want to review the following topic brief: Topic Brief ESY

March 2015
Dear Parent Consultant,

My child is six and is attending a local magnet school. The school has very high academic standards, which I like, however they continually call me to complain about my his behavior. He has been in the school for four months and they have called me 10 times to pick him up because of his behavior. Some days it is just after lunch, but other days it is right after he gets there. He is not going to learn if he is not in school. What can I do to get him help with his behavior?

Zaire’s Mom

Dear Zaire’s Mom,

There are several things that can be done to try to help Zaire improve his behavior. However, you are correct, if he is not in school he can’t learn. Not only will he miss out on academic instruction, but he also needs to be there to be able to work on improving his behavior. It is important for you to understand that a child can be removed from classroom activities for up to 90 minutes based on their behavioral issues, but any time beyond that should be recorded as a suspension. The number of times that you have been called to pick him up should be a red flag to the school. Has there been a meeting of school staff to discuss the issue and come up with a plan to address the behavior? If not, then that should be the first step. If that has been done and there has been no change to his behavior or them calling you, then “A prompt referral to a planning and placement team (PPT) is required for any child who has been suspended repeatedly or whose behavior, attendance or progress in school is considered unsatisfactory or at a marginal level of acceptance.” This is from the Parent’s Guide to Special Education in Connecticut. At this meeting, the team will discuss whether evaluations need to be completed on Zaire in order to understand why he is having challenging behaviors. A Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) is one way to assess the reason he is having these behaviors. Once that is more completely understood, the team, which you are a part of, can develop a plan to address the behaviors in a positive way. Preventing the behaviors or replacing them with more positive behaviors is the goal.

February 2015
Dear Parent Consultant,

My son is turning 6 and the school told me we have to change his primary disability category from Developmental Delay. They told me they were thinking it would become either Intellectual Disability or Autism, how are we supposed to know what it should be?

Khalil’s Mom

Dear Khalil’s Mom,

Deciding on Khalil’s primary disability category for the purpose of his Individualized Education Program (IEP), like all other decisions relating to the IEP, is a Planning and Placement Team (PPT) decision, which includes you. The new disability category should reflect his primary concerns. The PPT needs to have current information in the form of standardized assessments, classwork, and input from parents, teachers and professionals who work with him. You can ask the school ahead of the PPT meeting to review any of this information so that you may have time to consider what it says and ask any questions you may have. It is important to keep in mind that the disability category selected is not what drives Khalil’s IEP. The IEP and its goals are developed based on his unique needs and how they impact him at school. Just because the disability category changes, does not mean the focus of the IEP should change. Your child’s needs remain the same and so should the focus of the IEP.

January 2015
Dear Parent Consultant,

My daughter has been having difficulty waiting for and taking the bus into school with some of the other kids. Sometimes it can get physical and I am really worried about her safety. She has ADHD and has an IEP for help with her delays in socializing with her peers at school. I was wondering if there was anything that could be done to help her in this situation?

Larissa’s Mom

Dear Larissa’s Mom,

I am so sorry to hear about this. Unstructured times, such as this, can be very difficult for our kids. This sounds like a situation in which an emergency PPT should be called to look at what kind of supports can be put in place for your daughter to ensure her safety. Since her IEP already recognizes the fact that she struggles with social situations this should help focus the conversation on what can be done to ensure that Larissa arrives safely at school and ready to learn. Perhaps a bus monitor can be put in place, a different stop can be arranged, or even a different bus. You may also want to suggest a goal added to her IEP to help develop skills and strategies to directly address the social skills she needs to deal with this situation.

December 2014
Dear Parent Consultant,

I am concerned that my child is not making the progress he should be making on his IEP goals. There are still 5 months until his annual PPT and I really do not want to wait until then to speak with his school team about this. I have read that we cannot change his IEP without a PPT meeting but I really do not want to waste the next 5 months doing something that doesn’t seem to be working. What else can I do?

Girard’s Grandmother

Dear Girard’s Grandmother,

The good news is that you do not have to wait! The annual Planning and Placement Team (PPT) meeting must be held each year, but an additional PPT meeting can be requested when any team member has an issue requiring team discussion. As an equal member of your child’s PPT, you have the right to make this request and bring the team together to discuss possible changes that need to be made to your grandson’s program. Although a PPT meeting can be requested at any time in the school year, it is important to note that the purpose of a PPT meeting is to discuss issues related to the child’s IEP. In your situation, this seems to be the case, as the team may need to revise his goals, their interventions, or perhaps his accommodations. When a topic needs to be discussed that will probably not change the IEP, a parent could ask for a team meeting, which not a PPT meeting.

September 2014
Dear Parent Consultant,

My son Max, who has ADHD and has an Individualized Education Program (IEP), needs some help to lessen his hyperactivity in the classroom. The teacher complains that he is always tipping his chair back or bouncing in his seat. I understand this is distracting to the teacher and the other students, and definitely has a negative effect on his learning. I suggested adding fidget toys or a wiggle seat to help reduce this issue. He may not need both of them, but I thought we should try them to see if they would work. The response I got from the teacher is that if she did that for him, she would have to do that for everyone, and fidget toys are not allowed. He really is not able to control his activity level, and I’m not putting him on medication at this age, so what else can we do?

Thank you,
Max’s Mom

Dear Max’s Mom,

Since Max is has an IEP, he is entitled to FAPE – a Free, Appropriate, Public Education, which is based on his unique needs. This includes individualized accommodations, which help him to access his learning environment. Therefore, he can have accommodations that the other students do not have if he needs them to benefit from his education. The first step is to see if he truly does have a need for these accommodations or supports. A Planning and Placement Team (PPT) meeting discussion is the place for this to be decided. At the meeting, the team (you included) should review his classroom performance to see if the effect on his learning shows the need for this level of support. The teacher’s complaints seem like a good place to start the discussion. The decisions made at PPT meetings about which supports are put in place are based on the needs of the student, so statements like “we don’t do that here” cannot be used to deny the student a necessary support. Once the team decides on his needs and the best way to support them, this is written into the IEP, as well as any accommodations that are being added.

August 2014
Dear Parent Consultant,

My son’s school team was considering using a consultant to work with him for behavior issues in school. I did not agree with the individual the team suggested but the school shared information about my child with the person anyway. Isn’t this a violation of my rights under FERPA?

Joel’s Mom

Dear Joel’s Mom,

The situation you have described could be allowable under the FERPA provision giving school’s authority to share information about your child with a person who they determine has a legitimate educational interest. FERPA allows schools to define individuals who may have a legitimate educational interest if they fulfill a function that would be performed by a school official. School official could be defined by the school to include consultants or contractors. We understand your concern and many parents may not be aware of this provision which does not require parental consent. FERPA does require each school system to notify parents annually about their rights under FERPA, including the right to share information with those who may have a legitimate education interest.

June 2014
Dear Parent Consultant,

My son attends a charter school in our community. He is in kindergarten and has had a great deal of behavioral struggles. I have asked for help but he just keeps getting suspended. The last incident he had was his fifth suspension. We received a letter that said he cannot continue to attend the school if he has a sixth incident. He is not improving so I think this may happen, what can I do?

Thank you,
Malik’s Mom

Dear Malik’s Mom,

A charter school is a public school too and has to follow state and federal laws. In the Parent’s Guide To Special Education in Connecticut it says: A prompt referral to a Planning and Placement Team (PPT) is required for any child who has been suspended repeatedly or whose behavior, attendance, or progress in school is considered unsatisfactory or at a marginal level of acceptance. This means that before the school takes any action to remove your child the child should be considered for possible eligibility for special education services, which may help him with his behavioral challenges. You may also refer your child to a PPT to request an evaluation to see if he may need special education services.

Additionally, any child being considered for expulsion from a school is entitled to an expulsion hearing, by an impartial person, where they may defend themselves against this decision. The only exception is a child who engaged in behaviors related to weapons, drugs or serious bodily harm, that may result in a removal for up to 45 days, without a hearing.

You may also want to view the following resources for more information:

May 2014
Dear Parent Consultant,

My ten-year-old daughter has severe anxiety and I am having a hard time getting her to go to school. I have talked to her teacher and the school nurse and a friend of mine has suggested that a 504 plan might be helpful. What can I do before this situation gets any worse?

Anna’s Mom

Dear Anna’s Mom,

Before anyone can plan what to do, everyone needs to understand what is causing the problem. A 504 plan may be helpful depending on what she needs. Any plan should be based on what we know about the child and the problems they are experiencing. In order to determine eligibility for a 504 plan, the group needs to discuss what information they already have about the student, and what additional information needs to be gathered through evaluation. A doctor’s note is not required but it can be a good start to the conversation about her needs. Section 504 requires school districts to individually evaluate a student before classifying the student as having a disability. These assessment results will help to determine eligibility and inform the process about what supports may be helpful for your daughter regarding her educational needs. Keep in mind that an education includes more than reading and writing. It may also include many functional skills such as working with other kids, participating in extracurricular activities, being able to cope in stressful situations, among others.

Here are some additional FAQs on Section 504 from the US Department of Education.

April 2014

Dear Parent Consultant,

If my child qualifies for Extended School Year (ESY) services, what should those services look like?

Steve’s Mom

Dear Steve’s Mom,

Like all special education decisions, the program and services to be provided need to be based on the student’s individual needs. Options include, but are not limited to, academic support services to maintain skills in areas such as math and reading; home instruction or consultation to provide parents support and materials to prevent regression; individual or group instruction; and social or recreational services to enhance or maintain Individualized Education Program (IEP) related skills. This year, due to a Second District Court ruling on April 2, 2014, ESY is considered a continuation of the school year and the same “least restrictive environment” that applies during the academic year should apply for their extended school year program.
For more information related to a student’s right to least restrictive environment in their extended school year program read Important Federal Appeals Court Ruling on Summer Services.

March 2014
Dear Parent Consultant,

My child has ADHD and is really struggling with difficult behaviors in some of his classes. He has repeatedly been taken out of class and has even had two suspensions because of his outbursts. I am worried he is missing too much and will fall behind. What can we do?

Kyle’s Dad

Dear Kyle’s Dad,

It may be a good idea to request a functional behavior assessment (FBA) for your child, to look possible causes of the behaviors. Are there certain activities or times of day that seem to be most problematic? Are accommodations from the IEP in place? Are these classes in areas he is already struggling? It would be interesting to know how he is performing in the classes he is not getting written up in. An FBA assumes that his behaviors are serving a function for him and by investigating what happens before the behavior, during and then afterwards, it may be possible to teach your son an alternative way of dealing with a difficult situation.

February 2014
Dear Parent Consultant,

At the PPT last June, the team discussed having a paraprofessional for my son who is in 2nd grade. It is now November and there is still no paraprofessional assigned to my son. What can I do?

Cody’s Mom

Dear Cody’s Mom,

You use the word discussed, it’s important to check your IEP on either the notes page or the accommodations page to confirm that there is to be a paraprofessional assigned to your son. If you find it recorded there, a good next step may be to write an email or letter to your special education supervisor to find out where they are in the process of assigning one. If you bring your concerns to the administration and you still do not have an acceptable response, your next step can be a complaint filed with the State Department of Education. (If, in reviewing your IEP, you do not see any record of agreement for a paraprofessional to be assigned to your son, it may be a good idea to make a written request for another PPT to further discuss why this conversation was not included in the IEP.

January 2014

Dear Parent Consultant,

A friend told me that my child who is only 12 should be attending her PPT meetings. I think he is too young. When should children with disabilities start to attend PPTs?

Jonah’s Dad

Dear Jonah’s Dad,

Having the student attend their PPT meetings as early and as often as possible is a great idea. After all, it is all about them and great practice in beginning to self advocate. How the student participates should be a thoughtful conversation among the PPT team, with consideration for the student’s strengths and needs. A younger child can attend for the first few minutes of the meeting to speak about things they enjoyed that year and tasks that were difficult. A child who may be reluctant to speak to so many grown-ups can create a short video or write down thoughts and present them to the PPT and maybe come in to answer questions. All students must be invited to their PPT when they are 15 years old.

November 2013

Dear Parent Consultant,

The school keeps telling me that my child is not making progress meeting his objectives and they keep trying to lower the performance criteria. I do not think it is right that they keep lowering expectations for him but they tell me I am being unrealistic? How do I know if I am expecting too much for my child?

Brian’s Mom

Dear Brian’s Mom,

It is a reasonable expectation for you to see your child continue to grow and make progress every year. Your child’s goals should be SMART (Specific, Measureable, Action Based, Relevant, Time Sensitive) and based on current evaluation data (classroom assessments, DRAs, standardized testing). The school should be using scientifically researched based instructional methods when teaching your child- methods of teaching with proven results. If the PPT feels that the goals were important enough to address in the IEP, the team should look at the goals and objectives to find out where there are specific problem areas in achieving them. Things that the team could consider are the type of intervention, the frequency of the interventions and how they are provided (ex. group size, location etc.). More intensive instruction and more frequent progress monitoring may be required to reach these goals. If this approach is unsuccessful, perhaps personnel with expertise in the area of concern should be brought in to support the team.

October 2013

Dear Parent Consultant,

I am concerned about my daughter’s progress in school. How can I tell if she is learning and making progress on her IEP goals?

Ayla’s Mom

Dear Ayla’s Mom,

This is a question we often get from parents.    If you look at your child’s IEP, especially the goal pages (usually page  #7) you will see an overall goal, and short term objectives.  Each one has PERFORMANCE CRITERIA and an EVALUATION PROCEDURE.  So, for example, if this was Ayla’s learning objective:


When given a word problem involving fractions, Ayla will solve the problem correctly by reading a word problem and choosing the correct operation.


How will you know when your daughter has mastered this objective?

 For this objective, one might select :

Quizzes/Tests (#4) from the Evaluation Procedures;

Frequency/Trials (code E) from the Performance Criteria table;

75% or 3/4 for the %/Trials, etc. line.

This would indicate that this objective will be successfully met when multiple quizzes and tests, reviewed by the teacher, show that the student can read a written problem containing fraction concepts, choose the correct operation, and solve the problem correctly, for 3 out every 4 problems given over time.*

It is helpful to have a conversation directly with the service provider so that you can understand what this will look like in the classroom and data.  Sometimes it is hard to make sense out of data without a clear understanding of how it is being collected.  If you can meet with the service providers to understand how your daughter’s learning is being measured, you will be more informed and able to see for yourself her level of progress on each objective.

The school will give you periodic reports of progress using the key from the goal page of the IEP. The key on the bottom of this page has terms like “M” (Mastered) “S” (Satisfactory – LIKELY TO ACHIEVE), “US”(Unsatisfactory – UNLIKELY TO ACHIEVE GOAL), etc.  The service providers make their decision on which code applies to each objective. They do this based on the data collected over time, as we have just described.

*Example is adapted from CSDE, Bureau of Special Education, IEP Manual, Revised March 2013


SAMPLE QUESTIONS for your discussions with service providers:

  • How often do you collect data?
  • How do you track the data?
  • What is the tool you are using to measure the data for IEP goals/objectives?
  • What does this look like in the classroom?
  • How do you know if it is ENOUGH progress to get her to goal by the end of the year?
  • What do you do differently if not enough progress is being made?

It is important to be informed so you can be part of monitoring your child’s progress.

It is important that you understand how each IEP goal and short term objective is being measured, and how your child is progressing on each one.