Practicing student and family empowerment

The staff at Wanzenberg and Associates are professionals within the special education field who seek to guard and improve services for students of all exceptionalities.

Our goals as an organization are to:

  1. Serve as a policy ombudsman and watchdog over our clients’ educational programs
  2. Empower families of students with disabilities to realize reasonable self determination in the IEP process
  3. Increase a school’s ability to maximize educational benefit for students with disabilities
  4. Assist school districts in the development of a more equitable and accessible model of service delivery

At Wanzenberg and Associates, we interpret the IDEA as a humanistic document that seeks to provide basic access to your child’s constitutional rights. 

Our services are grounded in a firm understanding of congressional intent, current state and federal code, and supporting special education case law.  We are keen to constantly reflect on the needs of the individual child and how this relates to a family’s vision for that individual.

We believe that families of children with special needs typically have the passion and expertise needed to fully advocate for their IEP rights.  However, our professional experience suggests that parents often require more preparation and support to fully participate in the special education process. 

Fortunately, many schools benefit from effective internal advocates who seek to fully implement the spirit and language of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

We know that these laws provide a viable model for families to pursue self-determination in the special educational process. Our external advocacy services are provided to assist families in developing a sustainable model of self-advocacy. 

The need for external advocacy arises when special education services are not "accessible, available, appropriate, and/or, effectively provided (Schloss, 1994)."

Moreover, the need for external advocacy emerges when the concerns of family or child are suppressed or ignored.

Our family empowerment model addresses:

  1. Parent training in special education rules and rights: Applying the “rules of the game” is often the most important skill to master in the IEP setting.  We can supplement your understanding of your child’s rights with down to earth and practical explanations of terms, timelines, and modes of dispute resolution.  We assist families of students with disabilities in navigating complex local, state, and federal entitlement systems.
  2. Perspective blending in complex school systems: With over 16 years in several school systems as a district representative, Dr. Wanzenberg can qualify and strategize for various team members’ points of view. Moreover, Wanzenberg and his staff are trained to examine (a.) competing priorities within schools which may be adverse to your interests as a parent, (b.) conflicts with a school’s resource allocation, and (c.) compliance dilemmas that may adversely impact how your child is served in special education.
  3. Child-centered collaboration with staff and specialists: It is very easy for IEP teams to get lost in the process of special education and lose sight of the child behind the plan.  When needed, we assist the family in reattaching the “ground wire to the faulty circuit.” We train parents to capitalize on a team’s strengths in a supportive and manner, but are also prepared to critique and problem solve dilemmas as they arise.
  4. Development of self-advocacy skills for family and child:  Setting reasonable goals and an action plan is the first part of the process. However, your rights in special education are conditional and limited to your child’s public education. We place a high priority on generalization of independent skills to the adult world where supports and services vary greatly from the public school experience.
  5. A clear plan for a family’s self-determination in the educational process: The professionals at Wanzenberg and Associates will learn about your concerns, your experiences, and assist you in developing a plan that provides for the optimal level of independence for your child. This plan includes how to access important legal and financial resources throughout the special education system.
  6. Situational advocacy:  Different situations call for different types of advocacy. Knowing how and when to apply various advocacy skills is critical in the process of IEP negotiating.  We assist families in understanding which advocacy palette to choose from and how to prioritize your concerns in an effective manner.
  7. Dynamic communication:  The value of our services is best revealed by the high degree of communication with all stakeholders in the support process. Where directed, we communicate with third parties who maintain unique understanding of a student’s profile.
  8. Long-term planning for student independence: Every service we provide supports an ethic to provide for an independent learner. We focus intensively on transitions between grade level, placements, and --ultimately-- to the community.