Families of students with disabilities often hire advocates to ensure that their children receive
appropriate and individualized education within the school system. The decision to hire an advocate
can stem from several reasons:
: Educational advocates are well-versed in special education laws, regulations, and
procedures. Families may hire them to ensure they fully understand their rights and options, as
navigating the complex special education system can be overwhelming.
: Advocates serve as representatives for the family and the student, ensuring that
their needs and preferences are effectively communicated and considered during the
Individualized Education Program (IEP) process.
Navigating the System
: Advocates can help families understand the educational process,
interpret assessments, and collaborate with school staff. This can be particularly valuable for
families who may not have the time, knowledge, or resources to navigate the special education
: In some cases, conflicts can arise between families and schools over appropriate
services and supports. Advocates can assist in advocating for the student's needs, mediating
disputes, and seeking solutions that benefit the child.
: Advocates help ensure that the school is meeting legal requirements
related to the provision of special education services. They can identify instances of non-
compliance and work to rectify them.
The role of an educational advocate in the school setting includes:
Information and Guidance
: Advocates educate families about their rights under the Individuals
with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and other relevant laws, helping them understand their
options and make informed decisions.
: Advocates work collaboratively with families, schools, and other professionals
involved in the student's education to develop and implement effective IEPs that meet the
student's unique needs.
: Advocates attend IEP meetings with families and provide guidance on developing
appropriate goals, accommodations, and services for the student. They help ensure that the IEP
is well-constructed and tailored to the student's specific requirements.
Monitoring and Follow-Up
: Advocates can monitor the implementation of the IEP to ensure that
the agreed-upon services and accommodations are being provided as intended. If issues arise,
they can assist in resolving them.
: If disagreements arise between the family and the school, advocates can
provide mediation and facilitate communication to find solutions that benefit the student.
Here's a scenario illustrating when an advocate can be a useful member of an IEP team during a
: Emma is a fourth-grade student with dyslexia. Her parents have noticed that her reading
skills are not improving despite receiving special education services. They decide to hire an
During an IEP meeting, the advocate fulfills several roles:
: The advocate educates Emma's parents about their rights and the services Emma is
entitled to receive under IDEA.
: The advocate clarifies assessment results and explains the various instructional
methods and accommodations that have proven effective for students with dyslexia.