A CSE meeting is basically an opportunity for parents to get together with their school district and customize an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for their child. The most disturbing thing about CSE meetings is that the schools have all of their people (teachers and psychologists, special education director, a parent advocate), and there’s only one person who’s there for the child and that’s their parent. And the one person who knows very little about the “process” is the parent. So it’s really not a fare or an equal representation of knowledge on both parties. The parents know very little, the districts know everything and it’s really a one-sided conversation that they know what’s best for the child. What is interesting is that most CSE meetings the parents are not educated on what they are entitled to. And they often walk away from the meeting feeling that they got what’s best but they were not aware of what they were entitled to. And sometimes it gets a little heated and not always do the parents walk away feeling that this is what’s best for their child. And this is an opportunity for them to advocated for their child’s education. And it varies between districts as to what the main purpose of that meeting is. Sometimes it’s to save money, other time in the best interested of the child and sometimes it’s a combination of the two. But the purpose of that is for the parent and the districts to come together and create a plan that is most advantageous for the child, and from my experience that is not always the case.
In order to advocate appropriately for their child, I think the most import things for parents to know before going to a CSE meeting are: 1) know what their rights are; 2) know their child’s disabilities; and, 3) know some of the cutting edge therapies that are out there. There are many different resources for parents to be aware of to further educate themselves on what they’re entitled to and what is in the best interest of their child. The most profound part of it is – I always speak to mothers and when the mothers feel that something is not right, and it’s their instincts, but everyone’s telling them it’s alright and everything’s fine, and they know it’s not right – for the parents to go with their instincts. If it doesn’t feel right – go with your instincts. Don’t accept mediocrity.
Until next time,
Kevin Gersh is the Founder & CEO of Gersh Academy and The Gersh Experience, schools for children and young adults on the Autism Spectrum and other neurobiological disorders (ADD, ADHD, Asperger's syndrome, Tourette's syndrome, and Obsessive-Compulsive disorders).