70 Children’s Legal Rights Journal [Vol. 38: 1 2018]
The courts could use this language to say that the level of benefit an IEP must provide the
student is one in which the student actually meets developmental goals. This is problematic
though, because as we saw with NCLB, schools respond by setting abysmally low standards for
children, to ensure that their numbers show progress. If the standard is whether the child has met
developmental goals each year, schools would be incentivized to set low goals for children with
disabilities. Even though Congressional findings suggest that having high expectations leads to
better results, if the school does not have enough available resources to help the child reach
maximum goals, requiring them to do so only takes what little funding they have for special
education and redirects it to paying for lawsuits when maximum goals are not achieved.
As discussed earlier in this section, however, the problem is less about ambiguous wording
than it is about a lack of resources. Until we as a nation decide that the investment in special
education from an early age provides society with a greater benefit than choosing to not educate
children with disabilities, Congress will never provide the money necessary to avoid IDEA
lawsuits. As a society, we can choose to pay for complete dependence on the public coffers once
the child becomes an adult, or we can choose to fund education for children with disabilities
now—knowing that proven early intervention techniques lead to more independent adults.
Ultimately, the way to solve this problem is through Congress fully funding the program it
C. Parental Resources
One thing that Congress cannot legislate is the need for parental involvement in their
child’s education. As one mother put it, “I am overwhelmed.”233 For parents with a child with
disabilities, one of their biggest hurdles to overcome is the paperwork.234 To even get to the process
of creating an IEP with the school district can take months. The process involves both independent
and school evaluations, requires countless documents, and must be met with active parent
involvement.235 It also involves an emotional toll that comes with adjusting your lifestyle around
accommodations for your child. While most parents would do anything for their kids, this can be
a stressful time. Further, as the child grows, there is need for constant adjustment. In addition to
the accommodations in a family’s lifestyle, there are also financial needs that develop.
To help alleviate some of the stress and possibly mitigate future disagreements down the
line, local school districts could offer educational programs to help with the miles of paperwork
that a family with a child with disabilities is faced with completing each year. Similar to the “Back
to School” and “How to Help Your Child Apply for College” informational nights, these evenings
or weekend seminars would provide parents with ( 1) face-to-face time with their child’s educators;
( 2) provide the ability to create a support group with parents similarly situated; and ( 3) start the
channels of communication with the school district on a positive note. At a minimum, schools
could provide a list of online resources for parents, as well as a list of resources, available in the
local community, i.e. therapists, aftercare providers specializing in children with disabilities, and
pertinent contact information for local and state departments.
233 McCafferty, supra note 197.
234 See generally Kristin Stanberry, The Process of Getting Your Child an IEP, UNDERSTOOD,
visited Mar. 8, 2017).