Why do I need an education advocate? How do I choose an education advocate?

Are you feeling like the school isn't listening to your concerns? Do you find the special education process overwhelming? These are just a few of the many reasons you might hire an education advocate.

When choosing an education advocate it's important to understand that there are no legal requirements for advocates. It's important that you consider an advocate's training and ability to remain current with regulatory changes. Liz Tashma is a member of Council of Parents, Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) and has completed the Special Education Advocate Training (SEAT) 2.0 which is a year-long course, classroom, self-study, and practicum. Liz Tashma has also committed to upholding COPAA's Code of Ethics.

How do I get an IEP for my child?

If you are concerned that your child is falling behind their peers academically, socially, or behaviorally and/or if you suspect that your child has a disability, you can (in writing) request that the school assess your child for special education eligibility. Once the school has received your request, they have 15 days to provide you with an assessment plan and 60 days to complete the assessment and hold a meeting to discuss the findings (and develop an IEP if warranted).

Here's a great sample letter.

How often can I request an IEP?

You can request as many IEPs as you see necessary. Remember, an IEP is a education plan that changes and grows as your child and their specific needs change. If you are concerned that your current IEP may need to be changed you can request an IEP Review at any time! Once you have delivered your request to the school IN WRITING, they have 30 days to hold the IEP Review.

Is there a checklist for an IEP meeting?

Each child is unique and every IEP should also be unique. IEPs are made up of several sections that build on each other to help the team determine what a fair and appropriate public education looks like for your child in the least restrictive environment. Assessments determine Present Levels; Present Levels determine Goals; and Goals determine Services and Placements.

Here's a great resource for understanding what is written in an IEP.

How do I write an IEP?

The school writes the IEP but you must agree to it. Parents are an important part of the IEP team. Your input matters - you are the subject matter expert for your child! In California, parents have the right to sign with exceptions. This means that you can agree to some parts and not others. This is a very important right for parents and not available in all states!

What are the special education laws in California? What are our rights?

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the federal program that authorizes state and local aid for special education and related services for children with disabilities. These laws can be found in Title 34, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 300. California must meet or exceed the standards set forth in IDEA. California's special education laws can be found in California Education Code, Title 2, Division 4, Part 30.

Parents have rights and it's important that you know what they are and exercise them!

Here's a great resource.

What other resources are available for me and my child?


Parents Helping Parents (PHP). PHP serves families of children with special needs throughout San Luis Obispo County. Two lending libraries and a reliable source of current information, referrals, and training.

Central Coast Autism Spectrum Center. Support and services from early autism diagnosis to vocational training and beyond.

SLO Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA). SELPA is responsible for the implementation of San Luis Obispo County Special Education Local Plan, and for ensuring a free appropriate public education to all students with identified disabilities.

Tri-Counties Regional Center (TCRC). TCRC provides person and family-centered supports for individuals with developmental disabilities to maximize opportunities and choices for living, working, learning, and recreating in the community.


Wrights Law. Wrights Law is a source for accurate, up-to-date information about special education law and advocacy for children with disabilities.

Special Education Rights and Responsibilities (SERR). This manual explains how to become eligible for special education, how to request and advocate for special education services, and what to do if you disagree with school districts.

Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA). COPAA’s mission is to protect and enforce the legal and civil rights of students with disabilities and their families.