Before you have an IEP meeting, make sure that you ask for copies of evaluations and a draft of the IEP in advance of your meeting.
If you have a meeting coming up and the school is doing evaluations, they might be doing a psychoeducational evaluation, speech and language, occupational therapy, whatever it is, you have the right to ask them for a copy of their evaluation report in advance of the meeting. Now they cannot give you a copy of the actual evaluation tool that they used for the assessment. That’s not appropriate protocol in the world of testing. The tests themselves cannot be given out because that’s highly protected information because if the test got out it would compromise all of the results, right? So you can’t have the actual test, but you can have a copy of the evaluation report that the psychologist or the therapist prepares that they are going to present at the meeting.
And you want copies of those in advance so that you can read them, you can highlight them, you can properly come up with a list of questions, and review everything in advance so you’re prepared for the meeting. So ask for those. I usually say if I could ask for them about three days in advance of the meeting so you have time to review them. So then when you get into the meeting, you have all of this material with you and it’s available to you.
Now if you’re doing a virtual meeting and you have not received the material in advance, then when you’re in the meeting ask them to provide you with a copy. They can email you a copy to you as well. You can also ask for a copy of a draft of the IEP in advance of your meeting. So usually the schools prepare a draft. That’s all it is, it’s a draft. It’s not the final document, most of the time it’s not even completed, there’s just pieces of it that are put together and some pieces have to be discussed in the team so that’s why it’s not complete.
So don’t panic if you don’t see certain things on there, it’s just a draft. A place to get started to save some time in the meeting and everything can be changed, it can be discussed, it can be updated, but it is a place to start. So you want to ask them for a copy of that draft in advance of the meeting. The only situation when they will not send you a draft, where they will refuse to send you a draft, is when you’re going into a meeting to determine if your child qualifies for an IEP.
So if your child does not have an IEP yet but you’ve asked for evaluations, there’s a meeting coming up to review those evaluations, chances are the school is not going to send you a draft of an IEP in advance because they have to wait for the meeting to determine in the meeting as part of a team discussion whether or not a child qualifies for an IEP. If the school sends you an IEP in advance of that meeting, then they could be guilty of prequalifying of predetermining whether a child qualified for an IEP without having the appropriate team members of which you have to be a part in the meeting.
So that’s the only time you probably will not and really should not get a draft of an IEP in advance of the meeting. But once your child has an IEP for all other upcoming meetings, you should be able to get a draft in advance again so you can take a look at it. When you get that draft of the IEP, you sit it right next to the old IEP. You put the old IEP on the left side of your desk, you put the new IEP on the right side of the desk, and you take a highlighter and a pen and you go through page by page and make sure that you compare those two IEPs to make sure all the information is appropriate and relevant.
All righty. Good luck.
The IEP Advocate is your best shot at helping your child succeed in school (and life). We help parents get the school to approve and follow individual education plans (IEPs) for their children who are struggling in school. Even if the school is saying “no” to you, we’ll get them to say “yes” to us!