At the beginning of an IEP meeting for a child in elementary school, the teacher opened up with the statement, “John is at the level he’s been at since the beginning of the year.” The minute those words left her mouth, I wrote them down on my pad of paper I was using for meeting notes.
School was already in the second quarter and the teacher just announced the child has not progressed at all. This was not good. An IEP must confer benefit. If the child is not benefitting, then the IEP is not appropriate and changes must be made. We spent the next two-and-a-half hours discussing changes and improvements in the IEP and services. It was challenging to be sure.
At the end of this IEP meeting, the staffing specialist read the notes. I said that we needed to add one more thing and asked her to include, “At the beginning of the meeting the teacher stated that ‘John is at the level he’s been at since the beginning of the year.’ The staffing specialist wrinkled her nose but she added it to the notes.
As the advocate for the parent, part of my job is to make sure everything is documented. When the teacher, or another member of the IEP team makes a significant statement like above, it is absolutely critical the information is documented in the notes. During IEP meetings I use the left column of my note pad to jot down things that I want written in the notes. At the end of the IEP meeting, I insist the notes be read out loud and as they are, I go down my list crossing off the items that are in the notes and requesting items that were missed be added.
At the end of the IEP meeting, particularly one that took a few hours, everyone is very tired and ready to leave. BE CAREFUL! Don’t succumb into fatigue just yet…hang in there for a few more minutes and make sure all the important information is written down in the notes. Your child’s education depends on it.