Toolbox Tuesday! The Three Questions

I’m wondering if you are completely finished with ARDing for the year. Maybe you are, but there is also a good chance that there were a few meetings that failed to come to a consensus, and you are now preparing for a second shot at it. That’s what our regulations call for—unless the ARD is about disciplinary action or an immediate safety concern the non-consensus ARD should conclude with a plan to recess and re-convene. In the Toolbox we offer some specific suggestions for how to handle the non-consensus situation.

The starting point is the assumption that consensus is always a possibility. In that sense, ending a meeting in non-consensus is a choice you didn’t have to make. In the Toolbox, we encourage you to ask yourself “the Three Questions” before allowing the meeting to end with “we just don’t agree.”

Question One: Is this worth fighting over? As I hope the Daily Dawg repeatedly illustrates, special education disputes can be lengthy and costly in every sense of the word. They cost time, money, energy, and morale. They often damage the relationship with the parent. So we need to think hard about this question.

Question Two: Are we legally defensible? The parent has some options after a non-consensus ARD and the school is required to make sure that the parent understands what those options are. The parent can seek mediation, file a complaint with T.E.A., or ask for a due process hearing. If they go that route, you will want to be sure that the district has complied with its legal obligations. This will typically involve your school lawyer spending some time reviewing documents and talking to staff. It’s not enough to just look at the paperwork from the most recent ARD. A legal dispute is likely to involve a review of the past couple of years. This should influence your answer to the first question: is this worth fighting over?

Question Three: Are we united? Special education decision making does not flow down from the highest ranking administrator. Decisions are made by the members of the ARD Committee. So before ending a meeting in non-consensus, let’s be sure that the members of the team believe that the school’s proposed program will be beneficial to the student.


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Tomorrow: the disabled vet lived 1.9 miles from the school. Can we give her a break?