1. Be prepared.
See my post on 7 Ways to Prepare for an IEP Meeting for tips as well as some background information that will clarify the bolded terms presented below.
2. Remember, you are an essential part of the team.
You’ve known your child longer than anyone in the room. Be confident and trust yourself. You make the final decision on whether the IEP is acceptable.
3. Ask questions.
Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification of jargon or acronyms. If uncomfortable with a team’s suggestion or decision, ask for their reasoning and…
4. Get things in writing.
Especially if the team is adding, changing, or denying services in ways you suspect or know are violating your rights (according to your state’s procedural safeguards), ask the district to explain in writing why those changes are being made. This is also known as Prior Written Notice (PWN) (prior meaning before a change is made, not before the meeting).
5. Take notes.
You will talk about a lot. They will talk a lot. Meetings can be emotional. Information is likely to get lost. Most importantly, make a list of changes and additions the school district agrees to that are not included in the IEP draft; ensure these updates are made in the version you receive following the meeting. If you’re interested in recording the meeting instead, see this post for each state’s laws regulating that process.
6. Ensure all of your parental concerns are addressed.
Keep a bulleted list of the parental concerns you submitted and check them off as they are discussed.
7. Schedule a follow-up meeting.
Ask that the IEP include your desire to meet with the team “X” weeks following the effecitve date of the new version. Especially after the start of a new school year, this enables you to meet any new team members and ensure the team is coordinating appropriate accommodations and working toward meeting your child’s goals.
8. Remember that the IEP is a fluid document.
You can request changes to the IEP or a meeting to discuss the IEP at any time. That said, don’t let the team use that as an excuse to omit something you want in it. It’s always easier to remove something that proves unnecessary than to try and add in later.
9. Understand your rights.
If you disagree, with the version of the IEP you recieve after the meeting, refer to your procedural safeguards to learn what steps you should take to dispute it.
Want more information?
A Day in Your Shoes is a site developed by an IEP-experienced mom and certified Special Education Advocate. Visit her homepage and select the statement that best describes you to find well-organized information to help you on your IEP learning journey.
Wrightslaw is a go-to resource on special education law and advocacy. This website has TONS of information, and it can feel a little overwhelming. Information about IEPs is found here. For other topics, I recommend starting with the A-Z topic list.
What are your tips for IEP meetings? Share in the comments below.