Ideally, your child had his or her annual ARD during the previous school year. This way, the student’s individual plan is already in place for the first day of school.
Sometimes, that is not possible. Maybe your family moved school districts during the summer.
Some children have had medical setbacks during the summer which need to be addressed. Maybe, the medical condition has changed for the better or a new diagnosis has occurred. It could simply be that the annual ARD (Admission, Review and Dismissal) is due because the meeting could not take place before the school year’s end.
Whatever the reason your child is having an ARD, be ready.
1: Know your rights.
Parents can request meetings prior to an annual ARD. If there are questions, a staffing with parents can help answer questions and concerns. Plus, parents’ input on the proposed IEP (individual education plan) helps the teacher address any pressing concerns of the family.
No one likes unwanted surprises. As a teacher, I always remind the parents that they can always request another meeting to revise the IEP if they feel it is no longer in their child’s best interest.
2: Ask for a copy of the child’s education plan ahead of a meeting if you can’t find last year’s copy.
Parents are most comfortable knowing what is going to happen before going into a meeting. Learn to read your ARD document. If you don’t understand what is being presented, don’t be afraid to say so.
The annual meeting includes more than just the individual education plan. You will see various supplements, depending on the child’s disability. For example, a child with autism will have an Autism Supplement. The Prior Written Notice (PWN) is one of the newest additions to the documents, which allows for the annual ARD recommendations to immediately take place. That new service can be something as simple as starting transportation for their child.
3: Be on time for your ARD meeting.
Very often, schools schedule more than just one meeting on the same day when staff and families meet for annual ARDs. Be at your meeting on time so that other families’ meetings can be on time too.
If you have a limited time window, let your teacher know. The school needs to be on time too. Some parents with limited time may prefer to have the meeting without them. That is a parent’s right.
You might prefer to do a meeting by phone. The teacher can send the documents home later that day for signature or go over the meeting’s documents with you later that day.
4: Consider bringing a friend or family member to the meeting.
Ideally, the child’s parents will both come to the ARD meeting. That helps the teacher and family better respond to the child’s needs. Often there is so much material presented that it may be overwhelming for a family.
Your child’s teacher along with a general education teacher and service providers will be present at the meeting. Write down any concerns prior to the meeting to get your questions answered. If you have questions later, just call your teacher.
If need be, a meeting can be called to go over additional questions.
Pamela Gross Downing, a special education teacher, can be contacted at email@example.com