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TxSpot | School-Based Therapy > Blog > Posts > Lawyer or advocate at the ARD?
November 02
Lawyer or advocate at the ARD?

Denice Tucker, OTR
Manager, School-Based Therapy Services, Harris County Dept. of Education

Have you ever been in an ARD meeting and the parent brings an advocate or lawyer?  How do you feel?  Nervous, anxious, scared?  Very real emotions, but here are some points to consider.

 
·        Parents can invite anyone they choose to the ARD meeting – you have no control over that. You can only control how you respond. Try to remember the parents are doing what they believe is in the best interest of their child.
 
·        Make a practice of addressing ALL members of the ARD committee when speaking. Lawyers and advocates may be intimidating, but they are not voting members of the ARD committee. Advocates and lawyers are generally paid by parents to seek solutions the parents desire, and they may use adversarial methods that promote discord to do so.
 
·        Prior to the ARD meeting, make sure you have thorough knowledge of the student, collect progress data to share with the team, and take some time to consider questions or concerns that may come up during the discussion.
 
·        Prior to the ARD meeting, it is a good idea to practice articulating your role as a related service provider in the educational setting and explaining your recommendations for service. Role play can help you prepare for responses to concerns that may arise.
 
·        When others disagree, don’t be afraid to reaffirm your position if you feel the data supports your point of view. However, be open to changing your mind if you hear relevant new information..
 
·        Ask questions of the parents, advocate, or attorney using language such as “Help me understand your concern,” or “What do you envision I would be doing?” Listen carefully, and then craft your response, respectfully explaining how you (and/or others) are or will address the concerns.
 
·        Limit your explanations and comments to the questions asked -- be brief and to the point.
 
·        Speak only when spoken to-don’t invite controversy by saying something that doesn’t need to be said.
 
Take a deep breath and relax when questions are directed to you, it’s not about you.
 
11/2/2015