As you may have already discovered, getting a child enrolled in an Individual Education Plan, (IEP), and special education can be a momentous task. However, once your child gets evaluated and approved into special education, things will get easier. As your child’s advocate, IEP meetings are essential to getting your child the proper education they need for their unique needs.
Once the evaluation is complete and approved, the school staff will set up an IEP meeting and alert all of the participants involved in the meeting. As a parent, you are allowed to bring in an advocate or professional to the meeting, either in person or by phone. It may be a good idea to bring a special needs attorney with you to the meetings to ensure that your child is getting everything they need from the school district. It is a good idea to alert the school board of who you plan on bringing so that they are aware, and it does not cause any further issues.
If you do not bring an attorney or another professional, it is a good idea to bring a spouse, friend, or another parent who has gone through the process. It is not a good idea to go alone because you may already be anxious or nervous about the meeting. These meetings also go over a lot of information; therefore, having a support person there can help you stay focused and act as a second pair of ears and eyes.
You are expected to be an active participant in the IEP meetings, which can be hard when there are a lot of people saying a lot of things you do not understand. It is a good idea to take notes during the meeting and speak up if you do not understand a certain point. Learning the “lingo” of the special education department and IEP process can be extremely helpful, as well.
The main goal of the meeting is to establish the specific education plan for your child. Before the plan can be put into place, it needs to be signed by the parent granting permission. There is no need to sign it right then and there. You are allowed to take the IEP home to review. In fact, it may be wise to take it home to review the next day, to ensure that you do not miss anything.
Sometimes IEP meetings get a little heated or emotional. If that is the case, ask for the meeting to be revisited on a different day. If one or more individuals are emotional or frustrated, it will only add stress to the situation.
Overall, IEP meetings generally take place annually to review and update your child’s case. The meetings can happen more frequently if there is a need. It is best to know what your child’s rights are and your rights are as a parent before going to these meetings. Remember, a knowledgeable parent is a prepared one.
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