Pathways Educational Consulting | Contact: 301-926-1081

  1. Learn about your child’s special challenges and needs. Go on-line and read as much as you can. Remember, you know your child best.
  2. Learn about the Federal laws that govern special education such as IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act).
  3. Start and maintain a paper trail. Put requests for school meetings in writing. Include in your request any topics you would like to discuss at the meeting. Keep notes about phone conversations and school meetings. You may even want to follow up meetings and phone conversations with correspondence reiterating your concerns and explaining your understanding of what actions will be taken.
  4. Use a three-ring binder to organize these meeting requests and other communications with your child’s school. Divide up the sections for communications (emails, letters); documents such as a 504 Plan and IEP; reports such as educational, psychological and speech/language testing; reports cards; your child’s academic work; and notes taken during phone calls and meetings.
  5. Be prepared for school meetings. Have a list of topics and concerns ready for the meeting. Give each staff person at the meeting a copy of this list. Be specific about your child’s needs.
  6. Always ask for copies of all assessment reports, draft of the IEP etc. Read them thoroughly and ask as many questions about them as you feel the need to ask.
  7. Be positive during school meetings and other interactions with school staff. Remember, you are part of the “team” working on your child’s behalf.
  8. Do not be late for meetings. Arrive promptly and bring your binder.
  9. Consult a professional advocate or consultant and have them attend the school meetings to assist you with your advocacy. The process can be very daunting. Get help if you need it.
  10. Stay on topic during meetings. Do not get bogged down with prior experiences with the school.
  11. Be positive! Work cooperatively with school staff. But don’t be timid. Stand up for your child.
  12. If all your concerns are not addressed during a meeting, ask to reconvene as soon as possible.
  13. Have regular contact with your child’s teachers. You can stay in touch via regular meetings, emails or daily/weekly notes. Show your appreciation.
  14. Review your child’s 504 Plan or IEP every month. Stay on top of things. Make sure the services stipulated are being implemented. If necessary ask for a school meeting to discuss your child’s progress or concerns you may have.
  15. Involve your child and ask what kind of help he/she needs. Bring your child to meetings if age-appropriate.
  16. Remember, you know you child better than anyone. You are your child’s best advocate!


Janet Lee,the founder of Pathwas Educational Consulting, has extensive experience serving as an advocate and navigator for parents of children with special needs in the Montgomery Country, Malyland public school system. Janet Lee prepares parents for Montgomery County Public Schools(MCPS) meetings and assists at these meetings in order to secure accommodations and when necessary, appropriate school placements. She has particular expertise in Individualized Education Programs(IEPs) and 504 Plans