Navigating Special Education: The Power of Building Positive Parent-Educator Partnerships

Peggy S. Bud, MS; Tamara L. Jacobson, MS, EdD candidate
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ISBN 13:
Trade Paperback
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6.00 x 9.00 x 0.63 inches

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Book Description

This timely and innovative roadmap for parents, educators, and administrators highlights the importance of effective communication methodology, appropriate correspondence, and data collection recommendations. Effective communication is often missing from the IEP team’s conversation. Navigating Special Education provides a foundation for building proactive, positive partnerships that will lead to 21st century best practices for children.
The 5-C Model of Communication—Conversation, Collaboration, Cooperation, Compromise, and Consensus—presented in Navigating Special Education helps to forge trusted alliances between school districts and families.
Navigating Special Education draws upon the authors’ 60-plus years of combined experience by using:
  • Anecdotal, evidence-based, real-life scenarios
  • Templates for letter writing and extensive data collection
  • A user-friendly appendix and glossary
As stakeholders, wouldn’t you like to have successful meetings where everyone’s voice is heard, respected, and understood? After reading Navigating Special Education, families, educational professionals, college students, and special education organizations will be able to implement effective models of communication and build positive partnerships.

More Information



About the Authors
Principles and Best Practices of Special Education
Yesterday’s Dream
Preliminary Parent–Educator Self-Reflection Questionnaire
Part I: The IEP Process, Communication, and Teamwork
Chapter 1: Communication and Special Education

Chapter 2: 5-C Model of Communication: Conversation, Collaboration, Cooperation, Compromise, and Consensus

Chapter 3: Sections of the IEP

Chapter 4: Active Versus Passive Listening

Chapter 5: Setting the Tone of a Meeting

Chapter 6: How to Respectfully Disagree

Chapter 7: Partnerships Build Trust

Chapter 8: The Importance of Teamwork
Part II: Analysis of an IEP
I Do Not Like These IEPs
Chapter 9: IEPs Versus 504 Plans

Chapter 10: Fair Access

Chapter 11: The What and Why of S.M.A.R.T. Goals
Part III: Data and Correspondence
Chapter 12: Data Collection

Chapter 13: Written Correspondence
Part IV: Strategies for Resolving Conflicts
Chapter 14: Hiring an Educational Consultant

Chapter 15: Conflict Leads to Creative Solutions

Chapter 16: Facilitated IEP Meetings, Mediation, and Due Process

Chapter 17: Negotiation and Compromise
Concluding Parent–Educator Self-Reflection Questionnaire


Navigating Special Education is a very useful resource for parents trying to obtain educational support for their children. Encouraging positive communication and using a data-driven approach, it helps promote a win-win situation for parents and educators. This book provides helpful historical context and constructive advice illustrated with real-life examples to handle what can be an overwhelming and tense process. I wish I had read this book earlier and have already applied the practical learnings to build a positive partnership and successfully support my son’s educational experience. I am a better parent because of it.”
—Hilary Kinney, parent and author of Project Management for Parents

 “Parents, teachers, and administrators all start out with the child's best interests at heart when designing an IEP, but all too often, they fall short of that goal. Navigating Special Education is a practical guide to frontloading the process by putting relationships and communication first. The premise is unique because the authors have used their vast experience to gain insight into a winning mindset: Clear communication leads to trust. In a trusting partnership, creativity can thrive and children can receive a first class education directly suited to their individual needs.”
—Enia Noonan, parent, general education teacher, special education teacher

 “Whether you are new to the special education process or have years of experience, there is always room for productive and positive conversations. Navigating Special Education provides the pathway to fruitful partnerships through connection, mutual respect, and communication. The relationships between members of the IEP team are built on trust and openness, with one clear goal steering the ship: the success of the student.  For parents and educators alike, Navigating Special Education offers concrete examples of how to work together so that the entire team can approach their meetings without unnecessary anxiety and stress, leading to the best possible outcomes for the students.”
—Kristen R. Massimo, MAEdL, school principal and special education consultant

 “I found Navigating Special Education to be very thorough in explaining every aspect of the IEP process. The case studies/example stories presented were especially helpful as lead-ins to some chapters and sections. The book is clearly written by authors who are experts in their field. They are knowledgeable about every step of the process and give good advice for parents on how to do everything from beginning the IEP procedure to revising it, as well as tactics on how to suggest changes or disagree with a school district’s recommendations.”
—Marisa Starr, parent of a child with an IEP

 “As a parent who has attended years of IEP sessions, I have a tremendous appreciation for Peggy and Tamara's expertise that they share in their book. It is an excellent, comprehensive resource loaded with relatable case studies, step-by-step guidance, examples, and a full glossary. Their 5C Model is a practical approach to the complicated IEP world. I highly recommend Navigating Special Education: The Power of Building Positive Parent–Educator Partnerships to both parents and administrators.”
—Mary Abbazia, parent and managing director of Impact Planning Group

 “As a coach and college professor, I have looked for years for a resource that supports educators in developing a consistent, nonadversarial approach to the IEP development and implementation. This must-read book highlights the importance of communication in building a strong partnership between parents and educators with the goal of creating an actionable plan everyone can support. Peggy and Tamara’s methodologies can help all stakeholders in navigating the intricacies of collaboration, consensus building, and agreement on required service delivery.”
—Lauri Susi, retired professor, University of North Carolina: Greensboro, education coach, professional development trainer

 “Navigating Special Education: The Power of Building Positive Parent–Educator Partnerships by Peggy S. Bud & Tamara Lee Jacobson targets parents of special needs children who are new to the process of working with educators in developing appropriate interventions to meet their child's educational needs. It also aims to increase those educators' sensitivities to the importance of collaborative communication when partnering with parents.  
The authors' thesis is that good communication skills, outlined in their 5C Model of Communication, along with listening, perspective-taking, and data collection, are required in building positive home–school partnerships. The authors' public school careers in speech-language pathology, teaching, administration and supervision, and their experiences as a parent of a special needs child make them well-qualified to tackle the subject matter presented in the book.   
The book is written in a positive tone and an organized manner. The book's strength comes from its focus on the role communication plays in either derailing or assisting successful outcomes in the special educational process in public school settings. Both parents and educators will likely find, as I did, that the many case vignettes included in the book are instructive and bring clarity to the authors' point of view. I particularly recommend it to parents new to the special education process.”
—Sherrill Werblood, PhD, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychology, Yale Child Study Center


About the Editors

About the Authors

Peggy S. Bud is a licensed speech-language pathologist and school administrator with more than 30 years of experience in public education. She founded Speaking Skillfully to provide consultation services to families of children with disabilities and to help business professionals bridge the communication gap. As a communication coach, educator, speaker, and author, she utilizes her background in cognitive neuroscience and language to teach effective communication strategies.
Peggy serves as a vital voice for families and facilitates collaborative special education teams, putting her extensive knowledge from her time as a special education administrator to use as she assists both sides of the IEP team. She advises families on how to successfully advocate for their child by having data-driven conversations and building strong home and school partnerships. Additionally, she provides professional development opportunities to educators, teaching them how to effectively communicate with parents, write strong educational plans, and differentiate their instruction to address the needs of all students.
Peggy teaches her clients how to “up their executive presence” across all platforms, strengthen their nonverbal and verbal skills, and understand the power of active listening. She provides customized training to organizations and their leadership, teaching them how bias impacts communication, decision-making, and relationships. It also directly links to recruitment, hiring, promotions, and employee retention.
Her clients come from many fields including medical, legal, financial, marketing, insurance, engineering, and education. She brings her expertise to organizations by giving customized talks and group training sessions. She has spoken at national conferences, women’s summits, rotary clubs, libraries, and more.
In addition to her private consulting practice, Peggy is the Community Outreach Director of Kids Are Talking, Director of Recruitment for The Financial Executives Consulting Group, a member of the Leadership Team of The Financial Executives Networking Group, serves on the Board of Directors of Bridge Academy (a charter school in Bridgeport, Connecticut), and Earthplace, a non-profit organization where science, conservation, and education meet. She holds a Bachelor of Science from Indiana University, as well as a Master’s of Science and sixth-year Certificate in Educational Leadership from Southern Connecticut State University. Her motto is: It’s more than what you say, it’s how you say it. Visit her website: Follow her on or on Facebook at Speaking Skillfully.
Tamara L. Jacobson has more than 30 years of experience advocating for children throughout the United States.Tamara previously taught English as a second language (ESL), theater arts, history, public speaking, and language arts for more than 18 years. She served as the head of curriculum and instruction for 5 years and as supervisor, then as assistant principal for 4 years. She holds lifetime and praxis certificates in administration and supervision K-12, ESL/bilingual education/dual language K-12, history K-12, communication arts (public speaking, debate, forensics) K-12, early childhood education PreK-3, and elementary education K-6.
Tamara worked as an educational consultant for Total Training Solutions, Ask the Educators, and East Coast Special Needs Advocacy and is currently the executive director of East Coast Educational Consulting LLC. She has conducted hundreds of workshops for teachers, teacher-aides, therapists, administrators, boards of directors, parent associations, and private community organizations.
Tamara is the mother of three daughters, one of whom lives with severe significant physical and cognitive developmental delays. Her daughter inspires her daily to make a difference in the educational landscape of practice.
Combining her interests in education and theater, Tamara has an acting and theater arts MFA in Directing. She has owned and directed Stars Theater and Dance Academy for many years. In 2011, she was profiled in Cambridge’s Who’s Who as a successful businesswoman.
Tamara holds a post-graduate certificate in Administration & Supervision with a concentration in Urban Studies. Currently, she is a doctoral candidate in Learning & Organizational Change at Baylor University. She is expected to graduate in May 2023.
In 2012, Tamara graduated from the “Partners in Policymaking in the State of NJ” program, a nonpartisan advocacy group that looks at legislation affecting marginalized communities. She is affiliated with the following organizations and conferences: American Education Research Association, Council for Exceptional Children, Academy for Educational Studies Critical Questions in Education Symposium, Carnegie Project on Special Education Doctorate, Southeastern Universities Graduate Research Symposium, and Baylor Education Research Conference.
Tamara has authored four published pieces: Navigating Special Education, A Different Kind of Wonderful, Understanding the Andragogical Learning Experiences of High School Students With Severe Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) During the COVID-19 Pandemic, and Sofia Makes Her Mark.