Support House Bill 2944: Parents know what is best for their kids!

1:42 pm

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) states that parents are presumed to act in the best interests of their children. So how come when parents act in their child’s best interest the IEP team brings in more and more bodies to fill the room to outnumber you in placement decisions?

On April 15th there is a hearing scheduled at 1pm in support of HB 2944 in Salem. This bill brings into the forefront the law that parents are presumed to act in the best interest of their children and sends a message to the Oregon Department of Education and Oregon school districts that the legislature is taking notice of their intimidation tactics in IEP meetings. Right now, if a parent questions a placement decision as too restrictive many school districts will bring in more and more “experts” to tell you what is best for your child. Parents understandably cave in to the pressure and this bill is a step in reclaiming our status as the true experts on our kids.

You can email your stories to Cynthia at and if you are able to show up and deliver it in person at the hearing in Salem or just sit in for support and larger numbers then email Cynthia and there is possibly some carpooling from the Lake Oswego area. This is your chance to get your stories in the hands of the lawmakers!!!

This bill is being sponsored by Rep. Chris Garrett and is supported by Rep. Sara Gelser and there may be others as well and I can add their names if I find out.

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Stephanie Hunter is a behavior consultant and the parent of a student at Ockley Green. She is active in local and statewide advocacy for children and adults with disabilities, which she writes about on her blog Belonging Matters.

filed under: IEP

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8 Responses

  1. Comment from PPS_Parent:

    What is it that you think this bill would change? Does it somehow give parents more leverage than they had before?

    I find a danger in 343.167(1)(b) in that if the hearing officer decides in favor of the district he or she must also cite evidence showing essentially that the parent is not acting in the best interest of the child. My question is why any parent would want that finding entered into an official record?

  2. Comment from Stephanie Hunter:

    PPS_Parent – I have that question in to the parent that got the bill sponsored. Let me think on that a bit…great question.

  3. Comment from Stephanie Hunter:

    PPS_Parent – Here is the answer from the parent who put forth the bill for sponsorship:

    A hearing officer should decide a case based on what is relevant, not on some tangential information about the parents lifestyle. What is relevant in special ed decisions is the nature and severity of the child’s disability and how it impacts their learning environment, services that assist with that, etc…. This bill does not alter what is relevant under IDEA. What it does is that sets up another hurdle for school districts and ultimately a hearings officer or whoever is making a decision to override parental decision making. This strengthens a parents voice, not dilutes it. Things in the special ed process can and will get ugly – that does not make it right for school districts to attack parents, and that fear is not a reason to oppose a bill that will enhance their role in IEP process, which has become so diluted in the State of Oregon. Frankly I personally would rather be provided a reason for a placement over my objection for my child besides “because we say so” and this is what seems to be happening now.

  4. Comment from Activisit Mom:

    Thank you to all the parents who came out today and testified on HB 2944. We rocked the house, literally. Several parents came and told their stories in way that was respectful and drove home the point we needed to make – IDEA’s intent of parental participation does not exist in Oregon. The House Education Committee seemed to really hear us, and they are moving to a vote on Friday. It was truly a positive experience for all.
    Several others provided written testimony in support of HB 2944. DRO (Disability Rights Oregon) along with PPS opposed the measure, go figure. I guess when you seek to change the system the old guard tries to knock you down. Someone from the ODE came too, it was obvious he had no clue about IDEA. It was truly an embarrassment for them. Although they have no shame, so maybe not.

  5. Comment from Stephanie:

    What did the testimony in opposition say, specifically PPS and who was the rep from PPS in opposition? Did any other school districts show in opposition? I wish I could have been there.

  6. Comment from PPS_Parent:

    This case, soon to be heard before the Supreme Court, shows one reason why the districts are cautious about 2944 …

    Perhaps even more interesting are the questions about the private school that is the subject of the SC appeal…,00.html

  7. Comment from Stephanie Hunter:

    Thanks for sharing this, there are just layers of stuff here to look at.

    I can’t believe in this day and age that anyone would consider reliving trauma as therapeutic and that isolating children from their parents in the name of treatment is ever a good idea. Punishment does not teach you jack other than to fear the punisher and avoid it in any way possible….I take that back, it might teach you how to punish other people.

    I see what you mean about why school districts would oppose 2944 and the weight it might give litigious parents to dig into the deep pockets of public education. However, schools will spend a lot of money on pointless lawsuits to block one child from getting an education and often they don’t get settled until the child is already finished with their education. I sat in an IEP with the lawyer for the PPS once and I could not help wondering how much money the district was spending just to keep this kid seregated. The argument was that they could not provide an aid for him but I tried to tally how much the combined pay by the hour of the “experts” in the room were and how great it would be if we could pay an aid with that wasted money.

  8. Comment from Stephanie Hunter:

    Email update about 2944:
    Status Special Education Bills

    On Wednesday, the House Education Committee heard HB 2944. Fact did not
    take a position on the bill due to concerns that it could put parent’s
    parenting at issue which could backfire on parents. However, Fact was
    hoping that awareness would be raised regarding the disrespect that parents
    experience during the special education process. The public hearing went
    very well. I tuned in 20 minutes late but I heard Cheryl Goeken’s testimony
    which was particularly moving. She was eloquent, articulate, and very well
    spoken. Her message was heartfelt and important. The bill is up for a work
    session today and I expect it to pass out of committee. Representative
    Gelser chided the education lobby during the hearing. It was a wonderful
    moment hearing her so strongly hold the Education Committee accountable.

    SB 652 is up for a hearing on Monday. We are busily putting together our