Though it seems that the 2017-2018 school year has just begun, the time to start thinking about 2018-2019 is now. Once the new year has begun, the DOE will begin to send out notices for IEP meetings. In addition, private schools will start the process of making admissions decisions for next year. To that end, there are a few things that families can start doing now and into January to ensure that they are fully prepared this spring.
Make sure that your child's testing is up to date. If you are even considering a private placement,
or are in a private placement, then it is advisable to get a comprehensive private evaluation for your child. If you have one, but it is 2-3 years old or older, it mostly likely will need to be updated. This is especially true if your child is very young, your child has made significant progress since the last evaluation, or if you are planning on moving him or her to a different placement for 2018-2019. Sometimes only an update is necessary, which is less expensive and less of an ordeal for your child, but either way, now is the time to have this conversation with your doctor(s) and/or attorney.
Make visits to any schools that you are considering for 2018-2019 now - both public and private. Private schools are accepting applications, and most still have open houses planned for the next few months. This is the time to gather as much information as possible. If you are considering public school, it is helpful to go to your IEP meeting with some information about possible schools/programs. It is generally more difficult to visit public placements than private, but it's always worth a try, and you may at least be able to speak to someone who can answer your questions. Tip: even if you are committed to a public school option, take a look at a least a few private schools. You may not be offered an appropriate program by the DOE, and by that point, all of the private schools could be full. Avoid that by keeping all of your options open now.
Speak to an attorney or advocate even if you are sure your child will be going to public school. You might be entitled to more than you aware of and it is a good idea to go into your IEP meeting prepared and aware of those rights even if you are not ready to fully engage an attorney at this point. Circumstances may changes down the road, and if you ever do end up having to bring a case against the DOE, it is important that your child's matter is set up correctly from the start. While the first day of school for 2018-2019 is months off, a 2018-2019 case begins as soon as the DOE contacts you to prepare for your IEP meeting (this includes conducting evaluations), which for many families has already occurred.
For additional questions about the 2018-2019 school year, or any other inquires contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 646-741-3030. We are here to help!