How to Run an Online IEP Meeting Successfully
IEP meetings are an important function within every special education department. If you are new to teletherapy and are curious on how to run more successful and productive online IEP meetings, check out our guide full guide.
If you are in the field of special education, you have likely heard of an IEP meeting. The acronym IEP is short for the Individualized Education Program, and these programs are written for every student who qualifies for special education. In the IEP meeting, the team of stakeholders discusses the details of the student’s report. The team members can vary, but often include a special education teacher, a general education teacher, an administrator or administrative designee, a parent, the student, and an assortment of learning specialists, depending on the services the student receives. IEP participation is usually on the list of the many OT, counselor, school psychologist, and SLP job responsibilities. As technology moves ever forward and more discussions conducted virtually, many people struggle with how to run an IEP meeting online. Let’s take a closer look at how to transition to a virtual environment successfully.
Types of IEP Meetings
There are several types of IEP meetings. The main categories include initial, annual, and re-evaluation IEPs.
Initial IEP meetings are held for students who are not presently eligible for special education. Parents, and others, can request an independent evaluation for a child. Once a child is evaluated and diagnosed with a disability under IDEA, the initial meeting must be held within 30 days. At this convening, the team discusses what the best plan should be for the student, as far as what services should be provided, and which goals, accommodations, and modifications should be established.
After the initial conference, a meeting needs to occur every subsequent year until the student is no longer eligible for special education services. During the annual, the team discusses goals and objectives, along with present levels of performance and other items.
In a re-evaluation meeting, sometimes called a triennial (the timeline for these meetings is 36 months, or three years), the IEP group determines if there is a need to change or terminate eligibility for the student. Often, individual team members conduct formal academic and psycho-social assessments and discuss those results here.
Amendments are sometimes necessary when an adjustment to terms of the IEP is required. Transition IEPs and Final IEPs are not independent meetings but are usually parts of the annual or re-evaluation. They serve to formulate post-secondary goals or to exit the child from special education due to graduation or age.
How to Run an Online IEP Meeting
An online IEP meeting adheres to the same legal principles as an in-person version. However, the virtual environment is going to be a much different setting than many team members are used to. Here are some suggestions on how to adapt to and streamline an online IEP meeting.
Make sure that connections are reliable.
Nothing will disrupt a meeting faster than a poor connection, with glitches in the audio and visual delivery. One of the legally valid methods to conduct a virtual IEP is by phone, so ensure that all stakeholders can call into the meeting in case the connection is shoddy.
Find a quiet place
We all have distractions at home, whether it is roaming children, pets, or background conversations. Try to find a spot with minimal chances of disruption so the meeting can go as smoothly as possible. The IEP meeting is also confidential, so legally, you will want to maintain privacy as much as possible.
Just like an in-person meeting, you will want to have all of the preliminary sections of the IEP (background information, participants, etc.) completed. Make sure you are aware of any assessment data that pertains to your role, as well as any information you expect to provide at the meeting.
Follow the plan
Many times, the leader of the face-to-face IEP meeting follows an agenda. The online model should be no different. Make sure that the team conducts introductions, reads legal statements, goes over critical items such as goals and present levels of performance, and discusses service delivery and outcomes.
Sometimes the plan changes, however. Parents may not be capable of a digital signature on their device, for example, and the team can offer to email the item for a later signature. There should be multiple ways to respond or accomplish tasks in case of technical issues.
Ensure clear communication
Virtual meetings are new to many people. The etiquette involved is still in progress, and people may talk over each other or not hear clearly. Encourage members to speak up and ask for clarification or repeating of information.
Leave room for discussion
Unlike in-person meetings, the ending of virtual meetings can be abrupt. If the meeting leader clicks “end,” the session is over. Give time at the end of the meeting to make sure that all members have shared equitably.
Standard Online IEP Meeting Agenda
An IEP is a legal document, with specific parameters and requirements. The basic principles are the same, whether the meeting is held on-site or remotely. An online IEP meeting agenda will follow the same general outline as an in-person version. There is room to adapt and adjust during the meeting, but many follow the same path. Here is a standard online IEP meeting agenda.
- Team introductions
- Read Parental Safeguards and Rights
- .Go over PLPs (present levels of performance) and any assessment results
- Ask for parent remarks/questions/concerns
- Go over goals and objectives
- List accommodations and modifications that the child is receiving, including regarding testing
- Go over transition plan and behavior plan (if applicable)
- Discuss services. Is the child receiving speech-language pathology services, psychological services, or counseling?
- Review the offer of FAPE
- Parent signatures (if the parent consents or refuses terms of IEP)
- Conclusion: make sure that all members are satisfied with conditions of the IEP and that any concerns addressed
The Importance of School IEP Meetings
An IEP meeting is not just a chance to review a legal document. It is an opportunity to make sure that students are on track to achieve their fullest potential. It is rare that all of the people involved in the education of the whole child are in one place. Special education, general education, and transition teachers are all part of the meeting. School psychologists, SLPs, OTs, PTs, and counselors are in a shared location to discuss the future success of the student, along with parents and district representatives. As the frequency of online IEP meetings increases, it is becoming clear that they are as efficient as in-person ones and possibly even more so. With the ability to meet conveniently, elimination of physical distance and travel, and the streamlining of documents and paperwork, online IEP meetings will be an integral part of the future of special education.
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