Negotiating the Maze - Strategies For Effective Advocacy In Schools

Negotiating the Maze Cover

Guide by Ed Mahony of Mahony Advocacy.  Advocacy is about securing, protecting and advancing the rights of one’s self or others. Special education students have rights. The Ministry of Education has enacted legislation and regulations to support the education of special needs children. School boards are responsible for implementing programs in compliance with current legislation and regulations.

Parents, however, may have to strongly advocate to ensure that their child’s rights are met at school. It is the parent’s right and responsibility to see that their child has an appropriate educational program, and it is certainly acceptable for parents to advocate for their child. A parent’s relationship with the school/school board is not a social relationship. It is a business/legal relationship with the goal of getting the most appropriate education for your child. 

Most effective parent advocates share a combination of important knowledge and skills:
• An understanding of special education regulations and rules
• An understanding of special education law
• A sense of procedural advocacy
• A realistic sense of what they want and how to work with staff to achieve their goals