Education, Schools, and Government

An IEP is being written for my learning-disabled child, how can I best contribute to this?
When a child has been evaluated and determined to qualify for an IEP, parents are considered an important part of the IEP team. Team IEP meetings will be scheduled with parents during which your child’s IEP evaluation will be discussed and suggestions made about appropriate measures to take to tailor the school experience to your child’s abilities. On the IEP, goals and timing will be specified with methods recommended to meet those goals and timing. Appropriate parental suggestions for IEP inclusions should be considered and if you aren’t sure what IEP goals or methods to suggest, make a list of what you see as your child’s biggest school challenges and your personal educational goals for him or her in the immediate future. Your list might help the other IEP team members determine possible corrections to the proposed plan. To help generate ideas about how to best help your child, school IEP team members can also be quizzed about past IEP plans they’ve put into place for other children. Once the IEP is in place, you’ll get an updated assessment of where your child is related to IEP goals with each grade card.
My child’s IEP doesn’t seem to be appropriate, what rights do I have to request correction?
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the primary federal law that governs IEPs and the special education process. IDEA guarantees that parents can request a meeting with their child’s IEP team to discuss concerns whenever they become apparent. If the school IEP team and the family are disagreeing about the best course of action for the plan, short-term or trial changes to the IEP can be suggested. Compromise and cooperation from all IEP team members (including parents) is vitally important in preserving as positive a relationship as possible between the family and the school. Parents do have options for addressing issues that are not able to be resolved by the IEP team. These options are mediation (where an outside party leads a discussion between the school and parents); educational due process (where a hearing officer hears evidence about the issues and makes a decision); and filing a complaint with the State Education Agency (SEA) if the school has violated some requirement of IDEA. Further information about IEPs and IDEA can be found at local special education offices or the state agency on education. Education attorneys can further advise you of the rights and options provided to parents and children by IDEA.
My son was expelled for fighting though he didn't start the fight. What can I do?
Zero tolerance policies against weapons were enacted in all schools following the Gun Free School Act (GFSA) of 1994, which required a one-year expulsion if a student was found in possession of a firearm. Many schools extended the reach of GFSA to include policies that stated zero-tolerance against violence, weapons other than firearms, drugs, alcohol, and other behaviors in violation of school policy. In Ohio, law permits a one-year expulsion only when a student has been found to be carrying a weapon. States, cities, and school districts are different in their interpretation of situations related to enhanced zero-tolerance policies and allowances for challenging an expulsion based on zero-tolerance. An education attorney can advise you of your child’s rights related to expulsion and zero-tolerance policies for your school district.
A city truck damaged my driveway during trash pickup, what can I do to get the city to repair it?
Reporting the damage to the Public Services department of the city where the damage occurred is a good first step. Generally speaking, cities have immunity from civil lawsuits for certain types of acts occurring in the course of carrying out government business (police, fire, services, etc.). Minor damage cases are generally tough to prove when there are no witnesses, only best guesses as to how the damage occurred. Many cities, however, informally deal with individual problems as a means of maintaining good relationships with their residents and also reducing legal costs to defend claims. Homeowners’ insurance policies will often cover property damage but a city might be willing to pay a deductible or some portion of a claim even though the city may have immunity. It is also possible that the city will refuse to pay for the damage if the claim is minor and/or related to damage from an act of nature or damage occurring during the regular course of business. An attorney with public law experience can advise you about your best options for handling the property damage claim.
Am I allowed to vote with an absentee ballot for any reason?
In most states, anyone eligible to vote may now vote by absentee ballot. In order to do so, consumers can request an Absentee Ballot Application from the Board of Election which they then complete and return. A letter can also be sent requesting an absentee ballot and the Board of Election can advise you about what information to include in the request letter. Once the absentee ballot is received by you, it must be returned or mailed back to the Board of Elections within some specified amount of time previous to the election.