Many parents feel as though they do not want to attend a CSE meeting alone, which is more than understandable. The CSE, unfortunately creates an environment of intimidation and in some instances hostility.
Therefore, hiring an advocate who knows the case backwards and forwards can only be an asset.
Hiring an attorney to attend the CSE turns the environment into an adversarial situation which you do not want. The district will have it’s back up and more likely than not, will not work with you to attain the goals that you have set forth for your child.
Additionally, if you hire an attorney to attend the CSE meeting with you then the district will also have their attorney in attendance. If you have not attended a CSE meeting at all or not with any representation, such as an advocate, then I would not advise having an attorney at your meeting.
The CSE schedules meetings with a sizable amount of notice.
If you feel as though you cannot attend the meeting alone and need an advocate then PLEASE contact one immediately. If your child has had difficulties and there have been red flags prior, then you are going to have to play catch up. This is not fair to the child.
My one question is "Where have you been?!"
I have had many parents contact me last minute (within 1 week of the meeting or less) to attend their child’s meeting. This will do a tremendous disservice to your child as the amount of preparation involved is substantial.
The CSE is something that is to be taken very seriously.
Your child’s future is contingent on the outcome of the meeting. DO NOT dilly dally when it comes to your child’s future. They are counting on you. Please keep in mind as well, if the advocate is top notch then they may not be available as their calendar will book up quickly.
If your child has had problems either recently in school or for a while, then hire an advocate immediately.
If you have had an advocate and that individual has not been effective, then don’t be wishy washy, find someone else who is qualified.
If you have never gone into a CSE meeting before, then absolutely hire an advocate to attend. This sets the tone for the relationship you will have with the school moving forward. If they see that you are being proactive, then they are less likely to take advantage. Of course, this is not a guarantee but in all my years of working as an advocate, the school takes a family far more seriously when they see that are totally invested in the child and are on top of things from the beginning.
More times than I can recall, I have had parents contact me to JUST attend a CSE Meeting.
There is a feeling from parents that if they have the presence of an advocate then that will be enough for the district to stand up and take notice and therefore agree to what the parents are requesting.
NOTHING could be further from the truth! If you contact an advocate and they are more than willing to attend with no information or very little (perhaps based on what you tell them as a parent), BEWARE!
Personally, I do not JUST attend a CSE Meeting. My business has a process to follow whereby all the information is gathered from the parent during the Open Opportunity Session and then if advocacy hours are needed, they can be purchased and implemented.
For instance, if you were in a car accident and as a result became injured, would you expect the attorney to represent you in court against the defendant with only the information that they gathered from a conversation with you?
Of course not! They would have to do a great deal of reviewing documents (discovery) from physicians, hospitals, therapists, police report, etc. in order to put a case together. If the attorney did not do this then he/she would not able to represent you properly and your case would be very weak. Therefore the chance of you winning would be quite minimal. Why take a chance with your child? There is no difference between this scenario and hiring a great advocate who will represent your child as if their practice depends on it.
A phenomenal advocate requires the following to be fully papered to attend a CSE Meeting.
These items are non-negotiable and if they tell you otherwise, then find someone else immediately.
- The child’s file from any schools that they have attended or currently attend.
- The child’s file from any physicians that they have seen or currently see.
- The child’s file from any therapists or mental health professionals that they have seen or worked with.
- Any notes that are available from outside sources where the child may have attended, been enrolled in (extra curricular activities, etc.)
- All testing results from all individuals or facilities when the chid began the process (diagnosis, medications, etc.)
In order for an advocate to truly take on a case, these items must be furnished. There are many hours involved to prepare for the CSE meeting. The advocate needs to read through all files, look at all testing and diagnoses as well as, in some cases, speak to specific individuals in order to get a first hand look as to the child and why they are at the point they are now (while taking notes to refer to during the meeting).
Additionally, if the case is to be handled properly, emails need to go out to specific individuals, communication needs to become a part of the pre-CSE meeting along with forming a “relationship” with the individuals that will be seated at the meeting. This information will form a design of where the child is and where they should be going. This design will encompass what is needed for the child to move forward and progress therefore allowing him/her to attain their pinnacle level while doing so in the least frustrating way.
I implore you! As a parent, do your homework. This is your child’s present and future. You have an obligation to do the right thing for him/her. Do not let your child down!
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