Best Practices In Preparing for Your Child’s IEP Meeting
Your child has an IEP Meeting coming up and like most parents you want to be as prepared as possible to play a meaningful role in the development of the initial or updated IEP. It’s difficult to know the right questions to ask and what exact steps should guide your preparation. I’m here to help! Here are the top 5 ways that you can prepare for your son/daughter’s next IEP Meeting…
- READ the Prior Written Notice – The school is obligated to give you notice approximately two weeks or more before the meeting will take place. On the prior written notice letter you will be able to see WHO will be at the meeting and the PURPOSE of the meeting. This information is very helpful in framing the scope of your preparation.
- Write a letter to the IEP team members – requesting a copy of the Draft IEP, if they have prepared a draft IEP prior to the meeting (many times they have). This gives you the advantage of reviewing the recommendations of those who are working with your son/daughter with time to let it all sink in and to consult with an expert if you deem necessary. It’s helpful to compare the current IEP to the Draft IEP. If all of the goals are the same, be prepared to ask why. Print a copy of the Draft IEP provided and make notes on the side of each page. Review the notes that you’ve made the night before the meeting.
- Request that the school provide you with – all evaluations, data, ongoing progress monitoring, etc that will be reviewed at the meeting and that will be used as the basis of services, related services, etc that the team is recommending.
- The school/district will have their own agenda at the IEP meeting – make sure that yours is heard as well. Prepare your Parent Input section in advance of the meeting. The parent input section is where your voice can be heard and documented year to year. Share both what you are pleased with, the progress that you see your child making in school/home and fully document your concerns. Your input sets the tone for the meeting and reminds the team and yourself that you are an EQUAL member of the IEP team.
- Gather all – private evaluations, documents, summaries of service, etc and provide them to the IEP team in advance of the meeting. The team is obligated to consider outside providers reports and professional insights when making recommendations for your child. Especially when there are behavioral challenges interfering with your child’s education and if your child is working with an ABA therapist and/or other qualified behavioral therapist, their input is valuable. Teachers aren’t trained in the science and methodology of behavioral modification. Input from those that you work with outside of school can assist in creating a better Functional Assessment of Behavior and subsequent Behavior Intervention Plan.
If the IEP Meeting has been sprung on you at the last minute and you feel under-prepared to advocate in the way that you want to, even if you have already agreed to attend, sometimes it’s best to reschedule. You can be honest with the school. Let them know that you need more time to review your child’s progress and prepare for the meeting. Schools are obligated to encourage parent participation and should understand your concerns and intentions. If you would like a second set of eyes to review your child’s documents, hear your concerns and address them in advance of the meeting, please don’t hesitate to seek consult. A highly qualified special needs advocate can help you navigate what I call the “special education maze”.
We hope this article has helped.
If you have any further questions about the content presented in this article, please contact [email protected] or Krista Barth directly at [email protected]. Blog posts are intended to provide general information on a topic. For more individualized information please fill out our contact us form and/or book a consultation. Please feel free to leave a blog comment at the bottom of the page.
Krista Barth, Special Needs Advocate