New special education parent liaisons providing support for families

Office of Special Education Services Parent Liaison Marina Garcia (left), parent Rachel Wilson, and liaisons Benjamin Jules and Wilson Renteria.

National Parental Involvement Day is Nov. 16

When you ask Wilson Renteria to explain what it’s like to assist the families of students with special needs at HISD, he can’t help but get a little emotional.

“It’s almost an indescribable emotion to explain what it feels like to help our HISD families,” Renteria said. “To be able to serve our parents in what feels like an impossible way has been extremely rewarding.”

Renteria and two other colleagues, Marina Garcia and Benjamin Jules, serve as Office of Special Education Services Parent Liaisons, a new position that was added for the 2017-2018 school year. The liaisons provide personalized campus- and community-based services to HISD’s special needs students and their parents.

This year, the three-person team joins the HISD Family and Community Empowerment (FACE) Department in celebrating National Parental Involvement Day (Nov. 16), to highlight the effective tools and resources that are available to HISD parents, families, and caregivers to support student success.

“Our department has worked carefully and strategically to build a strong group that empowers parents and ensures they have a continuum of support,” said Office of Special Education Services Director Sharon Cole-Braxton.

Whether it’s assisting campus personnel or working collaboratively with outside agencies, the parent liaisons work diligently to identify internal and external solutions for parents that address a child’s individualized needs.

“It’s through our parent liaisons, we are able to find additional ways to equip our parents with every type of navigation tool and resource that produces positive results,” Cole-Braxton said.

By collaborating with campus administrators, teachers and staff, the parent liaisons have resolved more than 200 cases to address parent concerns related to special education and its related services.

“Recently during a home visit, we were able to partner with a family’s case worker in creating a plan that was not only effective for the parent and child, but achievable,” Renteria said.

After Hurricane Harvey, the trio worked to locate displaced HISD families that needed assistance in school selection, enrollment, and transportation. It is situations like Hurricane Harvey in which students and their families can seek a parent liaison for crisis support and guidance.

“They were able to provide me with resources that I wasn’t able to find on my own and quickly resolved our immediate needs,” HISD parent Rachael Wilson said. “Despite having to relocate due to the hurricane, I’ve noticed my daughter has been more confident and motivated. They have been very supportive and helpful throughout the process.”

If interested in learning more about the parent liaisons or know a family in need of their support, contact spedsupportingparents@houstonisd.org or call (713) 556-7042.

You can follow the district’s National Parental Involvement Day activities on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtags #HISDFACE or #NationalParentalInvolvementDay

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