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How Family Voices Influence State Policies: Education

Beth Hess - Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Informed by our work with thousands of Maryland families, MCF staff participate on more than 100 committees and boards at the state and local level. We advocate to improve systems that impact individuals with behavioral health challenges, and work to ensure the needs and perspectives of families are heard.

Beginning this month, we’ll be sharing profiles on some of these committees and boards to help shine a light on the ways in which the perspective of families impacts policy decisions and how you can get involved.

Education Advocacy Coalition

This statewide Coalition was established to advocate for the needs of students in special education and their families. A notable accomplishment of the Coalition was the passage in the 2012 legislative session of the “five-day rule” bill. This legislation requires that schools provide to families all documents to be used in an IEP meeting five business days prior to the meeting. Before this, families typically did not see the documents that were to be discussed in an IEP meeting until the meeting itself, and therefore were unable to prepare for the meeting.

Composition of the Coalition:

The Coalition is comprised of approximately 25 individuals and organizations concerned with special education policy issues affecting students throughout the state, and is chaired by Disability Rights Maryland.

How family perspective is represented on the Coalition:

Various organizations, including Maryland Coalition of Families, have identified staff who are family members to serve on the Coalition. In addition, there are a number of special education advocates who serve on the Coalition and represent the families that they work with.

Current Coalition priorities:

  • Ensuring that adequate funding be allocated to students with disabilities by the Kirwan Commission (The Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education)
  • Legislation to require intensive training for Administrative Law Judges (who hear special education cases)
  • Development of a special education manual to provide guidance to families who are representing themselves in a case against the school system

How to get involved:

If you have information to share relevant to the Coalition’s work, contact Ann Geddes at ageddes@mdcoalition.org or 443-741-8668.


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