ASK Dr. Blank: What are the key issues to consider in preparing for IEP (Individualized Education Program) meetings?
A parent is a child’s most powerful advocate. In that role, one of the most important factors is ensuring that you have the information needed to make the IEP process as productive as possible. Knowledge of your child, the school system, and federal and state laws and regulations is invaluable. In addition, the following tips will be helpful.
- If you are new to the process, speak to other parents or consult with a parent advocate so you have an overview of what to expect.
- You have the right, ahead of time, to receive a copy of the assessment results and the proposed IEP so you can preview them before the meeting.
- If alternative program options are being offered, it is advisable to arrange a visit to those programs before the IEP meeting takes place.
- Prior to the meeting, write a list of issues that you believe are important. Prioritize your goals and select the three that you feel are most important to your child’s current situation.
- Try to resolve any questions or concerns before the meeting so the time at the meeting can be used to agree on a plan.
- You may tape record the meeting, but it is important to notify the case manager at least 24 hours in advance if you plan on doing this.
- You do not have to sign the plan at the meeting. If you want further time to review what is suggested, you can make that request.
- You can agree to parts of the plan without agreeing to the entire IEP. The parts you’ve agreed on will be implemented, while the remaining issues continue to be processed.
- You may bring others with you to the meeting. It can be helpful if the other person takes notes that you can review so that you can give the issues the attention they merit.
- If you have private reports that you believe are relevant, bring them with you to the meeting.
- Set up a communication system so that there is regular communication between yourself and the team about your child’s progress.
- Be a strong, confident advocate but do not be confrontational. A good working relationship with your team is essential. School personnel have very demanding jobs and merit receiving your appreciation for the work they do.
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