Do I Have to Sign?
Parents are asked to sign paperwork when services begin, when changes are made, and if services end. Let’s not stop there. Parents must sign before any assessments begin. Parents must sign that they attended meetings. Parents sign that they received a copy of special education rights. The reasoning is to protect everyone involved. It gives documentation to show who attended the meetings, shows parental consent for what is outlined in the plan, and documents what has occurred at the meeting.
Should I sign if I don’t agree?
You do not have to sign what you do not agree with. That being said- if you attended the meeting, please sign where it says to sign that you attended the meeting. If you received paperwork, please sign that you received it. If you do not agree with the findings or do not agree with the services offered, then do not sign where it asks if you are in agreement. There may also be an area to sign that you do not agree with the findings and you may have an opportunity to write a dissenting opinion.
What will happen if I don’t sign?
In general, the answer is nothing. Literally nothing will happen if you don’t sign. Services can not begin until the parent signs. Changes can not take place until the parents sign. Services can not end (in most states) until the parent signs. In most cases if the parent refuses to sign, everything will remain basically the same. Laws vary between states on this issue, so make sure to check your own state laws.
Is it okay to think about it overnight before signing?
Absolutely. If you aren’t sure, take some time to think things over or check in with an advocate. However, please do so in a timely manner, for the sake of everyone involved.
What if we do not come to an agreement?
There are times when parents and the school system do not agree. Usually, when all parties stop and listen to each other, an agreement can be made that is in the best interest of the child. Remember that schools have very strict guidelines that must be followed and there are restrictions to what a school can do.
Think about exactly what it is you disagree with. If you do not agree with the guidelines the school is following, then there is not much that can be done unless you are willing to go through an expensive and drawn out process in court that will still likely amount to no changes. In this case, it would be my best advice to work with the school to determine what can be done for your child within the guidelines.
If you disagree because you feel the school is not following state or federal guidelines, there are steps you can take. Start by discussing the area you feel is not being followed with the school or the special education administrator. Usually a resolution can be made by providing a second opinion at the cost of the school system or through the use of a mediator.
What is Erin’s advice?
Try to reach an agreement, where you can feel comfortable signing as quickly as possible. You don’t want to leave this open. If you need time to take it in to discuss it and then suggest some changes, that is within your right. However, I do not suggest refusing to sign for long periods of time. Those battles rarely end well for parents, the school, or the child.