Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Right to Translation of the IEP into Spanish

When interviewing a parent who is seeking assistance with their child's special education needs, Liz Pardo, who is an educational advocate for Sinergia's Metropolitan Parent Center, will always start by making reference to their child's Individualized Education Plan, or IEP. Time and time again she's been confronted with the same response: parents who do not know what she is referring to until she describes it to them in more detail. Most often, it is a parent whose first language is not English who will not know the IEP by name. Some parents will recognize the name and know that it constitutes the whole of child's special education services, however, because they cannot read English, they are unsure of its contents.

What's wrong with this picture?  Ms. Pardo says that studies have shown that parent involvement in their child's education is key to their child's academic success. But she adds that if a parent cannot cannot read their child's IEP, they will be unable to meaningfully participate in an IEP meeting or in their child's education. The Individuals with Disability Education Act (IDEA) recognizes the importance of parent involvement, hence provides for the right to translation services (such as the translation of an IEP) and interpretation services (such as at an IEP meeting). 

In New York City it is common for an IEP to be in English, despite the parent being an English Language Learner. You must ask for it, and as with all important requests, it should be made in writing!   

Sample letter

City, State:

Requesting Translation of IEP for my child: _______________________________

Dear Mr./Ms.__________________________________,

I write seeking a translation of my child's IEP into Spanish, my primary language.  This translation will permit me to more fully understand and participate in the IEP meeting as well as to participate in my child's education throughout the school year. The request is made pursuant to federal, state and local laws.

I thank you for your time and assistance in this matter.  



Additional Resources
Language Services & Special Education - New York City
Servicios Linguisticos y de Educacion Especial - Cuidad de Nueva York

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