Annual case reviews are a yearly requirement for students in special education to review the individual education plan (IEP). Counselors are sometimes asked to serve as public agency representatives (PAR) for these meetings.
- It is important to know the laws and rights of parents if you are asked to be a public agency representative.
- Including counseling minutes in IEPs Counselortalk April 2018
- Who serves as PAR Counselortalk April 2018
- Be sure that what you are committing the school to is reasonable and in the student’s best interest. Also, know that there are some students that you should have the principal as the PAR. While it is good for me to be there to share how they are on track (or not on track) towards graduation, if a students situation is particularly difficult, I make sure that the principal is in the room as well. There are times a decision needs to be made by an administrator such as when additional dollars are needed, personnel, etc. or when I cannot answer a question that is asked. If that is the case, I let the committee know I will need to ask the principal. There are times it has been written into the IEP “pending administrative approval”. If our staff expects ahead of time that a conference necessitates the principal being there, the conference is scheduled so the principal can attend/serve as PAR.
- The main thing I learned is that if the meeting is getting stalled and there is not a consensus then I can choose to reconvene. I don’t have to make a decision that day. Also we have created a cheat sheet for parents that shows all of the acronyms we use in an IEP (Individualized Education Plan). Also it can be important to have a staffing ahead of time on certain students where you meet as a team without the parent.
- Case conferences are time-consuming and take away from other activities but they are a great way to connect with parents and often you can learn things you wouldn’t otherwise know about a family situation. Also, we are well-suited to help explain graduation requirements and to facilitate difficult conversations. We can bring a unique perspective to the committee.
- I actually like doing the PAR because it gives me the opportunity to advocate more heavily for my students. Many parents do not understand fully what the student may or may not need in terms of education and sometimes, the parents themselves have difficulty due to a disability of some sort. Unfortunately, sometimes the people that put the IEP together are the ones that are servicing the student. So, sometimes this is a problem because they are hesitant to raise the minutes because that increases their already overtaxed workload. However, my job is to make sure the students are receiving what they need.
- We were provided with some helpful “things” to say when the parents is becoming unreasonable. For example:
- “Based on the student’s needs….”
- “We will need to gather some data on that then reconvene”
- “Let’s try this for 6 weeks then revisit the effectiveness”
- “Most students benefit from technology, but an IEP is for services that are required for him to receive FAPE”
- “What is the rational for requesting this?”
- “My sense is that not everyone agrees with this decision. Does anyone else feel this way too?”
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