Navigating your child’s IEP meeting

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Your child school will have an in house special education committee or some equivalent to this. This committee can institute interventions for your child such as preferential seating, extended time to take test, and other such interventions without progressing to a full IEP. All these interventions may be helpful to your child.  Just be sure you insist the time line towards the official IEP meeting not be disrupted. Clarify in writing that you still want the official IEP meeting to take place and you do not accept these interventions as a substitute for an IEP meeting. You can always cancel the meeting later if these interventions prove to be all your child needs, but you don’t want your time line to start over from a new request for help if they don’t work. You will have to sign consent forms for your child’s testing to be performed. The actual time line won’t start until you have signed these forms so be certain you do your part and sign them in a timely manner. Keep a copy of any form you sign for the school and every form or notice you receive.

In preparation for your child’s IEP meeting, it is important to begin collecting all documents from your child’s doctors or therapist. A doctor familiar with school issues and willing to support your efforts can be a great help. It is best to know how supportive your doctor is willing to be before the IEP meeting. Make sure you make or give copies and not originals to the school system. Set up a filing system for your child’s documents including any school testing that may have been done. Include copies of your child’s school records in your documentation. You can request a copy of your child records form the school. To obtain a copy of your child’s school records, request in writing a “complete” copy of your child’s school records from his counselor or principal. The school is required to provide you with this on request. Be sure to ask for your child’s discipline record to be included.

If you will be bringing a support person you must let the school know. The school should not invite anyone who does not have direct knowledge of your child’s educational needs, for example their attorney or his paralegal. Make sure you know the name and title of every person in the room in your child’s IEP. The Iep team will consist of at least one teacher who is presently teaching your child, as well as an administrator of the school, the special education representative, the person who tested you child, and the school counselor.

The Iep meetings purpose is to plan services for your child for the coming year. An IEP meeting should occur at least yearly on your child and may be revised at that time.  Be very careful you fully understand anything you sign in your child IEP meeting. Do not sign any uncompleted forms. It’s also important you understand the concept of “prior written notice”. The school is required to give you “prior written notice” before changing your child’s IEP. Keep careful records of any communication with the school.

  If you disagree with the IEP the school is proposing you can pursue mediation by putting your objections in writing. Make sure you require your objections be included in the present IEP which you are disagreeing with. There is a section for your objections to be noted. The school a certain number of days to respond to your compliant keeps careful record of the date of your request. You may want to retain the services of an attorney at this time. You are allowed to represent yourself in mediation and due process but the school will be coached by their attorney. If you decide to represent yourself keep very careful records and be aware the school systems attorney may threaten you with countersuit for legal cost if your case is ruled frivolous.

It’s my hope these suggestions will make your experience of the IEP or individual education plan process less negative than mine were. I’d like to tell you the school has your child’s best interest in mind that was just not my experience.



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