The Impact of an Advocate on a Special Education IEP School Team

The reauthorization of The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) of 2004, stressed the importance of involving and increasing parent participation in the special education process including Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings. Along with that increase came an increase in disagreements and conflict, causing more parents to reach out to paid advocates. This study seeks to identify the impact of a paid child advocate on a school IEP team. There were 13 participants in the study, which included (2) administrators, (2) general education teachers, and (9) special education teachers. The study used a qualitative interview design, which consisted of 10 questions. The themes derived from the interviews were: adversary and stress, lack of time, lack of knowledge and helpful. The goal of the study was to identify the impact of a paid advocate on an IEP school team and to identify best practices for creating a collaborative and child centered IEP involving an advocate. A variety of collaborative best practices and recommendations were derived from the study.