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#WebinarWrapUp - Our Top Takeaways From Our Webinar With Special Education Attorney Matthew Storey

Updated: Oct 29, 2021

Hi there! It's Melissa here, with the ABLT, Inc. BRIDGE Project Team. Today's webinar with Special Education Attorney Matthew Storey just ended and so many of you sent questions via our social media, the zoom chat, and even popped on camera during the webinar to ask your questions. I personally have two pages of notes from the webinar and a few screenshots of tips I didn't want to forget to share - today was great!

Since the beginning of the series, we have had some awesome organizations, speakers, authors, and leaders join us for the Wednesday Webinars!

We are so grateful for the opportunity to share the awesome resources available to San Diego County and beyond. From the webinars, we know that so many of you have been able to get the tools that you need to be better advocates for your children as well as information that gives you the confidence to know that you are on the right path. Even if what you've learned lets you know you need to change directions with your approach to obtaining supports and services, you've given us that feedback, too!

We understand that you often have questions specific to your child, your family, and your stage in the very individual journey of being a parent of a child with disabilities.

With that in mind, please continue to reach out to us (right here on the website) using the chat feature, on our Facebook page messenger, our Twitter, and even our Instagram DM's - we'll always listen to you (even if that is all you need), answer your questions honestly, and get you connected to resources, supports, partner advocates, (or attorneys if you need them) and help you get the help your child and family needs.

If you have missed any of the webinars, check out the video replay page. The slides from today's presentation, along with the video will be available on the page this Friday.

Now on to our takeaways from our webinar with San Diego Special Education Attorney, Matthew Storey...

During the webinar, Attorney Storey defined compensatory education and what it means to the kiddos who are experiencing post-remote learning challenges now that some have returned to the in-person learning environment. He talked about how and when to ask (not demand - more on that later...) an Independent Education Evaluation, what to keep from the previous meeting(s) (as well as what to review before your next IEP meeting), and finally, how we should be requesting changes we suggest to the IEP plan.

  1. Don't feel like you have to sign it at the end of the meeting.

So your IEP meeting just ended... You're still sitting in the room and they hand you a freshly printed copy of what you (believe) you just discussed and agreed to. The team asks you to sign it; like right then, and there. Guess what, you don't have to. Attorney Storey recommends taking the IEP home, getting a highlighter, and diving into the document. Read every, single section on every single page. Highlight the terms or concepts you don't understand, then follow up with an email to the school with questions. Once you fully understand, then sign the IEP and return it.

Even as you are in the meeting have a piece of paper and have something to take notes with. If you do not feel comfortable or you are too nervous to ask questions during the meeting, add those things to an email as well when you are following up before you sign. Do not sign the IEP until you understand it. Also, feel free to ask for a paper copy to be mailed if you aren't comfortable with signing an electronic version.

2. You should know the baseline (where your child is at currently) and the measurable goal.

The 'baseline' is where the teacher/staff have measured and reported your child is starting from (their present level of performance or PLOP); the goal is where you'd like your child to be. Whether that timeline to meet the goal is within that school year or beyond that school year should also be identified in your final IEP document also. Essentially, if a student needs it (whatever the "it" is), to make progress, they (the school) need to provide it. If they cannot, more often schools are responsible for paying for those services.

Attorney Storey recommends making suggestions, though, not demands. Make ALL your requests in writing. If it's not written down, it doesn't exist! You can make requests at any time, just as you can request an IEP meeting at any time. Once you make a request, you may be denied, but go on and request an IEP meeting in writing. That way you can begin with, "this is why we are requesting this...".

Note: Many of you sent in your questions regarding supports for your child transitioning back to in-person learning and you feel last year was a wash or simply there were missed opportunities to progress towards goals due to being in distance learning. There were also some of you who still aren't comfortable with your child returning in person and you want to know how to ask for help for your child remaining in distance learning.

Attorney Storey shared that compensatory education is available to districts throughout the country to help in understanding PLOP, and what may have changed due to our new normal. Understood's website does a really great job of explaining compensatory education services on this FAQ article. This is a great site to bookmark to get an understanding of how to get this and other supports/services started for your child. You can also request an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) to get started. Let Attorney Storey know if you'd like the list of IEE providers; send him an email to

3. You can request an IEP meeting at any time (one more time, just in case)

Every 3 years, your child should be reassessed, but what if something is happening, and it is not time for the assessment or maybe you have already had an IEP meeting, but you are thinking: this is new, or this hasn't happened before?

If you notice there is no progress being made towards a goal, or even sensing some regression (meaning your child is returning to a previous state where they once were showing progress towards a goal, but not anymore), request an IEP meeting and ask why. When I am talking with parents, I also suggest keeping a journal on what you're seeing at home, the good, the bad, something that is improving, or even what you want to remember to ask about at the next meeting - write it down. Get in writing what the SpEd team says they are going to change to address the lack of progress or regression.

Now if you're like most parents, and you don't think you can write notes fast enough during the meeting, or even if you just want to be sure there is nothing you missed, you can always send 24 hours written notice to audio record the IEP meeting via email. Be sure you take a look at the 1-2 assessments and the last 1-2 IEP documents, so you are ready, or need to have any of the information in mind during the current meeting. The BRIDGE team is even available to do this with you.

Note: You can take whoever you want to an IEP meeting; virtually or in person. You can provide a notice in writing, but you don't have to. It is a courtesy.

I am, or anyone with the BRIDGE Project is always available to attend those meetings with you or even to help you understand the IEP document. Attorney Storey also suggested special needs parent groups on Facebook or forums for parents of individuals with special needs.

"If you post in those groups that you need someone to attend a meeting with you, you'll get a lot of responses from other parents willing to attend with you."

We also talked about the myth that accommodations disqualify your child from 4-year university attendance, test modifications, least restrictive environment (LRE) and what that means, honor students in special education, Child Find, aligning goals with services, and more.

There were so many nuggets in today's webinar that I fully recommend watching the replay this Friday when it's on the replay page.

In our next webinar, we will hear from CSA San Diego County on knowing your housing rights and where you can go as a member of (or having a child who is a member of) a protected class and you need help. Click the 'register now button' to RSVP for FREE

The BRIDGE team is hopeful that you find each of these webinars useful to you and your family. We also hope you know we are here to help if you have questions. If you need to reach me directly or anyone on the team for help, email us @

See you all at the next webinar,

Melissa Ramsey

ABLT BRIDGE Project & Media Coordinator


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