Phone: 706-629-7366 Ext 8108
Degrees and Certifications:
Brandi Waters, Parent Mentor
The Parent Mentor Program is a parent-driven initiative by the Georgia Department of Education, Special Education Services and Supports Division and the Gordon County School System. The Parent Mentor Program is staffed by a parent of a child with a disability, and the program's purpose is to provide education and support to families, with the long-term objective of giving all children a better chance to reach their potential.
What does a parent mentor do? Promotes partnerships between parents and educators. Guides parents through the Special Eduation process. Supplies information on Special Education services, policies, and procedures. Links parents to support groups or other parents. Provides information about Special Education law. Listens to family concerns and answers questions.
Parent to Parent of Georgia -- http://p2pga.org/
Parent Mentor Partnership -- http://www.parentmentors.org/
Autism Speaks -- https://www.autismspeaks.org/
Gordon County Schools Parent Survey
Contact Brandi Waters at (706) 629-4474 ext. 8108.
A Parent’s Guide to Understanding Your Rights And Responsibilities In Special Education
This is a guide to help you understand your rights and responsibilities regarding special education. This guide should not be used as a substitute for the full parents’ rights that are outlined in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the rules of the Georgia State Board of Education pertaining to Special Education, Rule 160-4-7-.05. You may view the full Georgia parents’ rights form, Your Rights Regarding Special Education, on the GA Department of Education web site at www.gadoe.org .
You have a right to see your child’s education records. You also may have the records explained to you. You may request to have something in the record changed or removed if you feel it should not be in your child’s records. You may ask for and receive copies of the Individualized Education Program (IEP) and/or any of your child’s records. The school system may charge a fee for the copies.
Your child has a right to a full and complete evaluation to determine if he/she has a disability and is in need of special education and/or related services. The school system must test students according to procedures outlined in IDEA and Georgia Special Education Rules. Your child will have a re-evaluation at least every three years. You will be involved in the decision about eligibility and what programs and services your child needs during the re-evaluation.
CONFIDENTIALITY OF INFORMATION:
Your child’s education records are confidential. You can ask to have copies of only your child’s records. School employees involved with your child may see the records and do not require your permission. No one else may see your child’s records without your permission.
LEAST RESTRICTIVE ENVIRONMENT:
You have a right to have your child taught in classrooms and participate in all school programs and activities with other children without disabilities, of the same age and grade, to the greatest extent appropriate for your child. School system personnel must make accommodations and modifications so that your child can participate in all school programs and activities to the greatest extent appropriate.
If you disagree with the school’s evaluation, you may have your child tested by a professional evaluator not employed by the school system, at public or private expense. The school system will give you a list of evaluators so that you may choose one to test your child. The IEP team uses the results of the tests to determine if your child has a disability or needs special education.
When the school cannot find the child’s parents or the child is a ward of the state, the school system will assign a surrogate (substitute) parent who will represent the child regarding the child’s rights and interests for any evaluation, meeting, or educational decisions for special education services. Surrogate parents will receive special training and will act as the parent by giving consent and participating in IEP/other meetings.
You must be notified of your parental rights. You must be invited to attend meetings about your child, such as eligibility, re-evaluation, or IEP meetings. You are to receive copies of all documents about your child’s education program and can have them explained to you. Copies will be in your native language or explained in sign language. The school system will provide a translator or interpreter, if needed.
PRIVATE SCHOOL PLACEMENT:
This section describes certain rights and responsibilities given to parents when they choose to place their child in a private school. The school system is not required to pay for the private school if the school system offered a free appropriate public education to meet a child’s educational needs that have been identified through the educational evaluation and are included in the IEP.
The school cannot test/evaluate or re-evaluate your child without your permission/consent. The school cannot place your child into special education or change your child’s program placement without your permission/consent. The school system cannot release your child’s records without your permission/consent. You have the right to not give your permission/consent.
INTERIM ALTERNATIVE EDUCATIONAL PLACEMENTS:
The school system must follow certain procedures when students with disabilities have behaviors that cause the IEP team to find other settings and ways to educate the child. Schools may remove students to alternative programs when there is a potential danger to the child, students, or school personnel. Disciplinary actions occur for violations involving drugs, alcohol, weapons, or other school rules violations. These rights protect you, your child, and the school system.
HEARINGS, MEDIATION, COMPLAINTS:
You can request a mediation or due process hearing if you disagree with what the school has planned for your child. The school system can also request mediation or a due process hearing. This section includes those rights that apply to parents and the school system regarding hearing procedures. You or the school system can file a formal written complaint with the Georgia Department of Education to conduct an investigation about any concerns, problems, or disagreements.
When you have concerns about your child’s education, it is important to tell the school principal or special education director. If you need further help, there are parent or advocacy groups from whom you may obtain help. Ask the school for information. You may also contact the Division for Exceptional Students at (404) 656-3963, by fax at (404) 651-6457, or at the Georgia Department of Education web site at www.gadoe.org to find other helpful resources for you as a parent of a child with disabilities.