Facilitating Hispanic monolingual parent participation during the IEP process

In California, numerous Hispanic monolingual families with children who qualify for Special Education services experience various types of barriers that prevent meaningful participation in their children’s education and IEP development. Barriers include linguistic differences, lack of accurate and accessible information that results in an incomplete understanding of the U.S. education system, poor quality of interpreters, as well as a mismatch between parent culturally-based views of disability and the academically based views of disability by American educators. As a means of identifying any gaps between theory and practice, the researcher specifically observed the experiences of Hispanic monolingual families during the IEP process. The research posits included: (a) Identify how educators can facilitate parental involvement of Hispanic monolingual families in the IEP process; (b) Identify how the existing IEP structures might hinder Hispanic monolingual families’ participation in the IEP process and steps educators can take to facilitate such participation; and (c) Examine what Hispanic monolingual families have experienced in the past during the IEP meeting. These questions were addressed and answered through the design and production of a Spanish parent booklet by the author who targeted these specific goals for the support of Hispanic monolingual families. The project Spanish pamphlet describes various aspects of the IEP process, an introduction to special education disability definitions, the summary of parent procedural safeguards, description of the student study team, and education assessment, the IEP team members, the referral process and the evaluation team, and important resources. The development of the project provided needed information and resources to Hispanic parents in their native language.