Parent training set

Published 10:06 pm Thursday, December 20, 2018

The Virginia Department of Education will provide training in Suffolk for parents that have students with disabilities on critical decisions that can affect a child’s ability to earn a diploma.

The training will be held in Suffolk on Jan. 16 at the Hilton Garden Inn Riverfront, 100 E. Constance Road.

The four-hour training sessions provide parents with information about the types of decisions they will have to make through the course of their students’ educational journey.

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“We wanted to provide training to what kind of decisions they will be making along the way as their children go through their educational careers,” said Family Engagement Specialist and Special Projects Coordinator for VDOE Tracy Lee. “We help them with what decisions they will face and when they will have to make them.”

The minute a parent places their child in special education, they have to be cognizant of a number of decisions that can affect their future with higher education and a career.

“Parents with children in the general education curriculum don’t think about diploma options, but these parents need to think of their options in kindergarten. The track they choose can impact their diploma,” Lee said.

During the course of a special education curriculum, parents can make the choice to make modifications and accommodations to make the educational process easier and more attainable for their special education student, but these choices can quickly determine if their child will graduate with a standard diploma.

“In regular English, accommodation and modification can mean similar things, but in special education, they can mean entirely different things,” Lee said. “Accommodation means accessing a tool that helps to access the general curriculum — for example, a recording device instead of written notes. Modification means changing the actual curriculum in depth and complexity.”

What may seem like a small change can easily knock a student off track for a standard diploma. Once a curriculum is modified, according to Lee, it can be difficult to bring them back up to the standard curriculum for their grade level.

“If you are looking into modification, you need to start asking questions early and what will it mean for receiving a standard diploma,” Lee said. “For some kids, it’s appropriate to modify young, but other kids it might not.”

Lee hopes that this can help parents better understand their options well ahead of when decisions need to be made.

Along with plans for primary and secondary education, the training session will also give parents information regarding the transition period after high school.

“When we say transition, we mean what happens after high school. We talk about whether four years of college or going to work are the best options,” Lee said.

Options are different for students that graduate with a standard diploma compared to those that don’t, and parents will find more information regarding the type of options they will have after graduation.

“This is just so important. Knowledge is power, and you want to have all the knowledge at your fingertips,” Lee said. “We can provide the knowledge you need.”

The free training session will also come with printouts and web-based modules for continued education on the topics. This allows parents to revisit the information.

Those that wish to register for the event need to do so by Dec. 28. Registration can be found on and searching “Critical Decision Points Parent Training, Suffolk – Region 2.”

The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Jan. 16 at the Hilton Garden Inn Suffolk Riverfront.

For more information, visit the Virginia Department of Education’s website