My son, now 8, has received special services since he was a year old. I’ve always been grateful for the support he’s gotten at school, and rarely have I questioned the recommendations made by his teachers. But as this year’s annual IEP meeting approached, something was different. For the last two years, my son had been in what’s called a “self-contained” class—a safe, supportive environment with a great teacher and four aides working with seven kids with unique needs. My son spent the morning in that class and the afternoon in a larger mainstream class with general education students. He was doing all right socially and academically, but I kept wondering what other options there might be. Before his annual IEP meeting, I talked with his teacher about what placement she would propose for the next year. She said she thought it was best if my son continued in the self-contained class. To hear that was a letdown. In my heart, I felt like he was ready for more. Now, the school was doing a good job—that wasn’t the issue. But a self-contained class seemed to be the most restrictive option. I knew the next level was a co-taught mainstream class, where general and special education students are in the same classroom. Maybe that could be an option for him, I thought. I reached out to a friend who worked as a parent advocate. She assured me that if I wasn’t 100 percent happy with the placement in my son’s IEP, then as a parent, I had the right to say so. I had the right to reject the IEP being proposed and ask that the school create a new one. The day of the annual IEP meeting came and I was nervous. My son’s school has done so much for him, leaving me with almost no complaints. If I rejected the IEP, would the school staff be angry with me? Would his teachers think I didn’t value all they had done? The meeting started and my son’s teacher and the school psychologist made their case. I listened patiently to everything they had to say. When it was my turn to talk, I first thanked them for their commitment to my son. Then I said what was on my mind. Most of the issues my son had were with social skills, I told everyone. And then I raised my concerns: In a self-contained class, was enough attention being paid to his social skills development? Could he take on more academically in a more mainstream class? In a co-taught class, I said, social skill development would be front and center. His academic requirements would increase, but I believed he could handle it. The entire IEP team listened. However, they said they didn’t want to change his placement from a self-contained class. Then came the hard part. I said I was rejecting his proposed IEP. I cringed for a minute waiting for the explosion I thought would happen. But my son’s teacher simply thanked me and said we’d work it out. The school psychologist said he would meet with me again in a month after doing some research. A month later, true to his word, the psychologist and I met. He said he had compared my son’s situation to that of some of the other kids in the co-taught class. The psychologist said my son was around the same academic level. My son had issues getting along with others, but the psychologist said that if I, as a parent, was going to bat to support this placement, he could too. I can’t tell you how good it felt to hear that. Any opinions, views, information and other content contained in blogs on Understood.org are the sole responsibility of the writer of the blog, and do not necessarily reflect the views, values, opinions or beliefs of, and are not endorsed by, Understood.