Toolbox Tuesday and the parents don’t agree with each other….

Last week’s Toolbox Tuesday focused on Tool #9: Leadership at the Non-Consensus ARD Meeting.  An Alert and Loyal Daily Dawg Reader brought up an interesting twist on that: what if the non-consensus is between the parents?  Good question!

First of all, let’s remember that there is a hierarchy of sorts among the many people who may serve as a “parent” at an ARD meeting.  Biological or adoptive parents outrank stepparents, grandparents, aunts and uncles with whom the child lives, as well as POSSLQs  (Look it up).  The only person who outranks the biological or adoptive parent is a person holding a legal document giving them authority to make educational decisions for the child.  So if we are dealing with divorced parents, the divorce decree might give one or the other the authority. 

However, many divorce decrees give the parents equal authority.  Moreover, couples don’t have to be divorced to have strong disagreements. So let’s just assume that you are at an ARD with both mom and dad who are happily married to each other.  But they disagree.  Mom thinks the student needs special education and likes the IEP the district has proposed. Dad does not want anything to do with special ed.  What to do?

Each parent has both authority and rights. Each of them has the authority to give consent, each of them has the power to revoke consent, and each of them has the right to ask for a due process hearing. The school only needs consent from one parent, but it has to recognize the right of the other parent to seek legal recourse.  A call to your school lawyer would be a good idea. And your documentation of what decision the ARD has made and what it will do about it will be important.  Consent from either parent is sufficient for the district to go forward with the decision it has proposed, but the parent who does not agree may ask for a hearing and invoke stay put. 

Before you get to that difficult place it would be wise for the school to offer the disagreeing parents some time to reflect.  Everything will be better for the student, the family, and the school if the parents can resolve their disagreement and come to a consensus.  So offering some time and a quiet place to talk might be a good move.


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Tomorrow: difficulty in scheduling the ARD