I have read all the ideas posted to date and there are some really good ones and some not so good ones. But they all have one fatal flaw. We can ask for all the legislature, required training, and required services we want, but until there are swift and financially weighted consequences in place when there is a dispute regarding services, there will always be a systemic failure in the support provided to disabled individuals.
For example, I advocated for 6 years for an “appropriate” education that included vocation training and was told that his program was fine and “not to worry”. Even though the VR case manager was at all high school IEP’s, upon graduation they did an evaluation and told me my child did not have the necessary skills to qualify for VR services. The only consequences in this case were to my child, none of the organizations that failed to do their job lost any funding. In addition, I advocated for 4 years to have my child enrolled in electives based on his interests, only to be denied because electives are a placement decision which is decided by the IEP team not by the interest of the student. Again the only consequence was to my child – the school still received their state and federal funding.
We also need a grievance process that takes 60 days instead of a year or more. The consequence to the school or other agency not finding a resolution in the allotted time would be an automatic judgment for the plaintiff. Parents should be guaranteed the right to legal representation, just as criminals are, rather than the current requirement that states provide a list of legal assistance organizations. The grievance process also needs to include reimbursement to parents/guardians for their time and travel. If parents/guardians have to attend hearings, meetings, mediation they do so without pay or by taking vacation time from their job while the “professionals” are being paid to be there as it is part of their job.
If anyone would like to contact me my email is firstname.lastname@example.org