The centerpiece of federal special education law, as set forth in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), is the individualized education program team. The team consists of parents, educators, administrators, and sometimes other individuals, who meet at prescribed times to decide whether a student is eligible for special education and, if so, to determine the child’s educational program and placement.

As the name implies, the team process is designed to be a collaborative one. Even among well-intended participants, however, differences of opinion can and do occur. When that happens, parents and school districts must advocate for their respective views. Advocacy is nothing more than the marshaling of facts and arguments in support of a position. Educational advocacy can run the gamut from gentle persuasion at ...

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