21 Hints for the Meeting
- Remember, diagnostic tests do not present the total picture. Your most important job is to make sure that the others at the IEP conference never forget that you are talking about a real child. Make sure the focus of the discussion is on your child’s strengths as well as needs.
- Usually your child’s special education teacher or administrator will act as chairperson or group leader for the IEP meeting.
- Ask for introductions if the person chairing the meeting does not have everyone introduce himself or herself. If you are not sure what each person’s role is at the meeting, ask him or her to explain. Use the Special Education Meeting Planner to assist you in remembering names and roles.
- Each person has something to share and should have a chance to say what he or she thinks. Stick with the issue at hand; i.e., your child’s education. Do not be sidetracked by irrelevant issues such as your past experiences or the district’s lack of funds.
- If you do not understand something that is said, ask to have it explained. Do not hesitate to ask for clarification of any detail.
- You are free to disagree with any part of the IEP. If you disagree, try to do so in a helpful way. Make suggestions instead of getting angry or upset.
- Be flexible enough to accept minor revisions, but be firm about the major issues.
- The program for your child should be built on services that relate to strengths and abilities, special problems and learning needs, not to his or her category of disability. If you do not agree that this is what the program does, speak up. Changes can be made if you state your views and ideas.
- Share relevant information about your child using the parent Preparation and Participation form (PDF), which has questions relating specifically to the various components of the IEP. Inform the committee of any activities or significant events that may influence your child’s performance in school.
- Make sure your child’s medical history is up-to-date and that the committee knows if there are any special needs or services provided by other sources.
- Participate in developing your child’s goals and objectives.
- Take note of what nonacademic school activities are included in your child’s program. Do not forget areas such as lunch, recess, art, music and physical education.
- Be sure all services that are necessary to implement your child’s educational program are written into the IEP.
- Ask yourself if what is planned corresponds to your knowledge of your child’s ability and needs.
- Make sure team members talk with, rather than about, your child if he or she is in the meeting. Maybe your child can suggest a goal and/or objective or benchmark and take responsibility for it.
- When you feel teachers and school personnel are doing a good job, compliment them.
- You can expect the teachers to carry out informal assessment on a continuing basis. They should be willing to keep trying new methods if your child is not making progress.
- If you are not sure you are in agreement with the IEP, you may ask for the IEP to be reconvened by following due process procedures.
- If the group needs more time to complete the IEP, there can be more than one meeting.
- Your child’s progress must be reported to you as frequently as that of a child without disabilities. The IEP, as a whole, must be reviewed once a year. You also may request a review at any time.
- You have the right to ask questions and request changes either during the conference or later.