Attending your first IEP meeting at the grade or middle school level can be quite overwhelming. Parents who have children with special needs need to be keenly aware of their rights under the IDEA act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act that protects your rights and the rights of your child. Although individual school districts like Charlotte County and Sarasota County are required by law to provide you with a document that says your rights, most parents have little knowledge about the specifics of these rights.

The school districts who face continued cutbacks and reductions in services may find it difficult to provide what is required for your special needs child. This is not your primary concern. Your primary concern is that your childs needs are met. They are entitled to a free and appropriate education under the law.  

Be aware of this and don’t be afraid to stand up to the school district. It is your responsibility to be the advocate for your child. It is going to be one of the most important things you will ever need to do.

Another point to consider with your developmentally delayed child is the option of having a 504 plan instead of the traditional IEP plan. Be aware that many school districts will try to tell you that this plan affords you the same federal rights. It does not. Insist your plan is an IEP plan and protect the rights of your child.

More information on your rights in regards to the IDEA act can be found by doing a google search and typing in the word IDEA.

Lynette Henk can be reached by calling 941-216-5727, emailing her at lynette @ or by visiting her website