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How to Survive Your ARD Meeting

The ARD, or otherwise known as the admission, review, and dismissal (ARD) process, can be a complicated and often frightening experience to any parent new to this procedure. It was designed to let parents of special needs children in the public school system know their rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that was developed by the Texas Education Agency (TEA). Confused yet? I am going to take you through this process slowly and you’ll find that it is not as overwhelming as you might think.

What Does It All Mean?

Now that you know what the initials mean, what exactly is an ARD? The ARD meeting usually takes places twice a year. In the beginning of the school year and at the end so that you can discuss what will be decided upon for your child’s education for the following year. This meeting is needed for the placement of your child in the school’s special education program and also if any changes during the school year need to be addressed. The Individual Education Plan, or IEP, must be reviewed at least once a year. . But you may call an ARD meeting whenever you see fit. This is your child and you are in charge of his/her education.

Take One Step At A Time

Once you enter the room where the ARD is being held (typically an empty conference room or library), you will notice a several people present. These are:

A representative from the school district administration. This is usually the Principal, Asst. Principal or counselor.

A teacher from general education

A teacher from special education

The student’s parents, guardian, or someone you designate to be there in your place such as a grandparent or adult sibling.

The student, when appropriate. Most of the time an ARD meeting will be conducted during class time so this it is usually done without the child. Besides they do have a tendency to get long and boring for kids. A child is usually required when he/she is 18 years and is competent to understand the proceedings.

A representative of the special education assessment team. If you are in a small school system this usually means a representative from the local school co-p.

Other specific types of professionals for students with specific disabilities (for example, a professional certified in education of the deaf, when a student with auditory impairment is being considered), or when other specialized needs (for example, vocational instruction, counseling or Limited English Proficiency) will be discussed.

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However, if several of these individuals cannot attend and/or send in substitutes (that have never met your child), you have the right to ask for the meeting to be re-scheduled until the representatives can be present.

During The Meeting

Keep in mind one thing during your ARD meeting, and that is they are not out to get you. I know it can seem that way but this group of educational professionals is here for one reason and one reason only: to help your child.

The very first thing that will happen is the special education assessment representative will hand you two sheets of paper, usually yellow. These are the guidelines of the ARD and IEP. The district wants you to know, beforehand, all the rules and regulations before discussion concerning your child’s IEP begins. In fact, they will read this out loud for everyone to hear and ask if there is anything that you are not clear on. This is a wonderful time to ask questions concerning these procedures. After you have attended these ARD meetings for several years, you will have it practically memorized and can opt out of this. But, by law, they must give you a copy each year.

Assessment Report

This is when the special education assessment reports are discussed. They are the cornerstone for making all ARD meeting decisions. These reports describe your child’s educational competences and needs as well as recommendation. If you have had private testing done, this is the time to share that information with the school. I would suggest alert the school prior to the ARD and give them copies of the results of the testing. This way, it makes it easier for the district’s personnel to assess the information in regards to your child’s assessment. A comprehensive individual assessment must be done at least every three years to see what progress has been made. This is especially important when your child is progressing from primary to elementary from elementary to intermediate and so forth. This assessment may also (but not all the time) be done when a child is transferred from one school district to another if you might move to another town, county or state.

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Creating The IEP

The IEP is based upon YOUR child’s need and nobody else’s. The IEP addresses all of his/her needs which include academic (such as reading, writing, etc.), extracurricular activities, special services (such as speech therapy or special transportation) and other needs. If your child needs help to participate in a general education class, which are called modifications, this also must be listed on the IEP. Remember, the IEP is only for that school year, from the beginning to the end. This is not concerning anything in the future of your child’s education.

The IEP has several must-haves, which include:

It must state how your child is doing currently.

It must state steps or objectives that your child is to meet as he/she works towards his/her annual goal.

It must state the amount of time that your child will be spending getting each service in special education. This includes services such as speech therapy or counseling. It must be specific such as; “Bobby will have counseling 15 minutes twice a week.” If the ARD committee attempts to list it as a ‘as needed’, have them be more detailed. The IEP also must list ‘who’ is giving each service to your child, such as therapist or special education teacher.

It must set up a schedule for how and when the district will measureyour child’s progress and how you will be regularly informed of that progress. Even though goals and objectives must be reviewed every year, they can be reviewed as many times as you would like during the school year.

The ARD Minutes

This is not a normal “minutes of the meeting” type of agenda but a rundown of the issues and questions brought up at this certain meeting. These notes definitely should include:

Requests for services or other changes in the IEP that you bring up for discussion.

Any new proposals or offers of services or any other changes proposed by the school.

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Any statement of denial/refusal by the school or by you, the parent. And you can refuse anything you want during your ARD meeting.

Any relevant information or comments about the discussion and whether a decision was made or not.

The school district, the parents, or the student may tape an ARD meeting, as long as everyone involved know that a tape is being made.

An ARD report should be an objective and full account of the business conducted in the meeting.

The Signing

The goal of the ARD is to have parents and school district feel like equal partners in developing the IEP.

These forms include a signature page where the participants sign that they participated in the meeting. They also indicate whether they agree or disagree with the decisions. When you disagree with the IEP, you’ll be offered the chance for a recess of the meeting for not more than 10 days, during which all members will have the opportunity to get additional information they might need in order to reach an agreement. Before the ARD ends, members should agree on a time to reconvene. You will also receive copies of the ARD meetings.

Just Remember

If you, the parent, don’t like how your child’s school year is going, you have the right to call an ARD meeting for changes. You may even call an emergency ARD if you feel that your child is in immediate need.

ARD meetings can be intimidating but they can also be informative and helpful. This is to help your child in his/her future school career and make it an easy transition. But, bear in mind that you are in charge. Though the school district wants to help to the best of their abilities, it is you that knows what is best for your child. And that is the most important thing to remember when surviving your ARD meeting.

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