IEP Meeting Tips for Parents

September 15, 2021By: Lymari Segarra, M.S., CCC-SLP

Your child’s IEP meeting can be a stressful moment for your family; however, it does not need to be.  As a parent or caregiver, you should see the IEP meeting as an opportunity to discuss all of your child’s needs and get professional recommendations on how to support them. It is also a great time to share their strengths and advocate for support in the school.

What is an IEP?

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), any student who is eligible for special education must have anIndividualized Education Program (IEP). This includes any student who receives related services like speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, counseling, and others. In simple words, the IEP is a legal document where all the services, service delivery models, and accommodations that your child will receive are reflected. Each IEP is individually designed for each student based on the strengths and needs. The IEP creates an opportunity for teachers, parents, school administrators, related services personnel, and students (when appropriate) to work together to improve access to the curriculum and academic progress for children with disabilities. The IEP is the cornerstone of quality education for each child with an identified disability.

Who is part of the IEP team?

  • The parents or legal guardian of the child with a disability.
  • One general education teacher of the child (if the child is, or may be, participating in the general education environment)
  • One special education teacher
  • The special education providers of the child (SLP, OT, PT, School Psychologist, and others)
  • A representative of the local education agency (LEA)

At the discretion of the parent or the agency, other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the child may participate in the IEP meeting. Whenever appropriate, the child with a disability will be invited to the meeting. Also, when needed an individual who can interpret during the meeting will be present during the meeting.

7 Tips for having a successful IEP meeting:

1. Share Information

Share important information related to your child’s strengths and needs outside of the classroom. Provide specific examples for your observations. Bring documentation you have (medical records, outside evaluations, and others) that can help determine your child’s strengths and needs.

2. Bring Support

You may bring a family member, friend or outside professional who will enrich the conversation about your child and support you in understanding what will be discussed. Let the IEP team know who you will be bringing in advance.

3. Request Translation

If needed, request that the documentation be in your home language and to have an interpreter present during the IEP meeting.

4. Request a Draft

Request a draft of the IEP before the meeting to get a chance to read what will be discussed prior to the meeting. It is a good idea to write down your concerns and/or questions for the day of meeting.

5. Actively Participate

Be an active participant in the IEP meeting. You can suggest goals for your child as well as accommodations and modifications to be considered by the team. 

6. Ask Questions

Ask questions to the teachers and staff who will be working with your child.

7. Stay Positive

Maintain a positive attitude and an open mind. The IEP team is there for the same reason that you, they all want to see your child succeed.

What happens after the IEP meeting?

If your child is found eligible for special education services, he or she will start to receive the services discussed and agreed on during the meeting after you have signed all the required paperwork. You could ask for calendar timelines at the meeting for the start of services. During the school year you will receive progress reports from the service provider updating you on your child’s current progress. The IEP team will meet on a yearly basis to determine continued eligibility and review strengths and needs. Your child will be re-evaluated every three years by the IEP team. You are in your rights to request meetings at other times if needed. Remember you are your child best advocate.

IDEA provides the option to hold the meetings via a teleconferencing platform with previous agreement of the time to use an alternative mean of meeting. You need to be informed in advance of the date, time, and place for the IEP meeting. Your attendance is important therefore, you should be considered when selecting the date, time, and place.

VocoVision connects specialized service providers with caseloads across the nation. One of them might be part of your child’s IEP team.

References:

Guide to the individualized education program. U.S. Department of Education. (2019, August 30).

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