There’s no doubt: An IEP is an extremely important document in your child’s education. It is also very complex. That is why becoming familiar with the IEP process, step-by-step, is critical. Here are some tips that will help relieve some of the anxiety:
Before The IEP Meeting
- More than just once a year: As the parent, you have the right to ask for an IEP meeting as often as you think is necessary (and reasonable) during the school year. Write a letter to your principal asking for the meeting.
- Plan to take someone with you: There are so many things that happen in an IEP meeting, and most parents just do not know what to watch for, what to listen for, what to pay attention to. As a result, so many things can get by you and you won’t even realize it until after the meeting is over. That is why you should take someone with you. Take your spouse. Take your mother or sister. Take your best friend. Take an advocate or another parent who has been to other IEP meetings.
- Ask for copies of the evaluations, IEP, and anything else in advance of the meeting: Before your IEP meeting, write a letter to the principal or staffing specialist asking for copies of any evaluation results, testing or proposed “drafts” of the IEP. Ask to have these copies sent to you at least three days before the IEP meeting so you have time to review them, read them page by page, and write down your questions, concerns and ideas. Take your notes with you to the IEP meeting. The “spirit” of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) supports the parents being able to be informed, and make informed decisions.
- When You Get A Pre-Printed “DRAFT” of the IEP: CAREFUL! The slightest change, even one word, can dramatically change the IEP. When you get your draft, lay the new IEP right next to the old IEP and – I’m very serious here – compare the new IEP against the old one, WORD FOR WORD, NUMBER FOR NUMBER. Do not skip a single section. Here’s why: Unfortunately, some school personnel will omit, delete and/or change parts of the IEP without telling you. In one IEP meeting I was in, the staffing coordinator had deleted the child’s behavior plan from the new IEP. When we noticed it was gone, she said, “Oh, I didn’t think he needed it anymore!” Well, we disagreed, and requested it stay on the IEP, which it did.
- The school must tell you in advance who is coming to the IEP meeting: This is called “Prior Written Notice.” The positions of attendees, not necessarily the individuals’ names, should be listed on the meeting notification form they send you before the IEP meeting.
Pam Lindemann, The IEP Advocate, is a private educational advocacy organization. With our experienced IEP advocates on your side, you can rest assured you’ll be developing the best possible program for your child. Call: 407-342-9836 or email: Info@theIEPAdvocate.com
Find more articles at The IEP Advocate Blog: www.theiepadvocate.com/blog/