Ten Quick Tips and Advice to Prepare for the IEP Meeting
If your son or daughter is receiving special education and related services under the IDEA it is important that you as the parent prepare for the Individualized Education Program (IEP) or PPT (Planning and Place Team) meeting in order to develop the IEP for your child with the school team. Here are a ten quick tips and advice to prepare yourself as a parent for the IEP meeting.
- 1. Set a meeting time that works for you.
By law, you have the right to have the IEP meeting scheduled for a time that is mutually convenient. If the date or time proposed by the school district simply does not work for you, it is reasonable to not accept that time and to propose an alternative date and time that is more convenient.
- 2. Know who is coming to the IEP meeting.
This tip may sound simple, but it is very important. The form (i.e., Notice of Planning and Placement Team Meeting) that is sent home by the school will inform you of who will be in attendance. You will want to review this form to know who will be in attendance so you may prepare your agenda around who is attending. Additionally, you may also request that school team members who are not listed on the form attend including a paraprofessional. Anyone that is listed on the form as scheduled to attend must be in attendance on the day of the IEP meeting, unless you agree to excuse them from the meeting, which only is some cases is acceptable.
- 3. Prepare your agenda in advance.
Develop a pre-meeting IEP worksheet for yourself ahead of time. The pre-meeting worksheet should include pertinent items such as the date, time, and location of the meeting. It should also include answers to common questions such as, what is the purpose of the meeting, who requested the meeting, who is attending the meeting, what are your goals for the meeting, what action(s) do you want the school to make and what, if any, is preventing the school from providing you with what your child needs. These questions may seem simple, even obvious, but after several school meetings, you will want to refer to your pre-meeting IEP worksheet to stay organized and evaluate if you are succeeding in developing your child’s IEP with the school team.
- 4. Review your child’s most recent IEP.
Again, this is another simple tip, but one that is often overlooked. Pull out your child’s most recent IEP and review it. Read the notes from the teachers for each goal and objective. Look to see if any progress has or hasn’t been made against each goal and objective and review any data that is being used to determine if a goal has been achieved.
- 5. Know what your child needs are for related services.
An important question to ask yourself as the parent is whether your child is receiving all of the related services he/she needs. Related services such as transportation, speech and language, audiology, psychological, physical and occupational therapy, recreation, and/or counseling are just some of the related services that your child may be entitled to in order to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE) under the IDEA. Any warranted related services must be included within the IEP.
- 6. Know your child’s current levels of performance.
Before the meeting, you will want to know how your child performs with regards to reading, math, spelling, physical education, and socialization to name a few domains. You can find this information by reviewing testing and/or assessments that have been conducted in each IEP domain for your child. The IEP team should be using contemporary data or assessments to guide the development of appropriate goals and objectives for your child.
- 7. Maintain professionalism at your child’s IEP meeting.
If the meeting isn’t going your way do not engage in any comments or conduct that causes you as the parent to be viewed as adversarial, angry, or rude. Remember you as the parent are an equal part of the IEP meeting. Keep your anger in check and keep calm. If you feel like you are going to lose your cool or become emotional, take a break to gain back your composure.
- 8. Do not feel the need to rush.
Developing your child’s IEP is incredibly important and you should never feel rushed. You may ask to reschedule an IEP meeting if the school team did not allot sufficient time to complete the IEP, address all of your concerns or answer any of your pertinent questions. At times, the school team may need a qualified decision maker. If one is not present, ask to reconvene the meeting when an administrator is available to be present.
- 9. Do not consent to the IEP on the day of the meeting.
You will be provided with a draft IEP on the day of the scheduled IEP meeting; however, you should request that you receive copies of all documents (e.g., evaluations, progress, reports, draft IEP, data, and any other documents that will be reviewed at the IEP meeting) prior to attending the IEP meeting. The school team should provide you with these documents at least three (3) days before a scheduled IEP meeting but you must request these documents in writing. Let the school team know that you would like to review the finalized IEP and share with them that you expect to have made a decision regarding implementation of the IEP after reviewing the IEP. After the IEP meeting, review the documents thoroughly and reflect on what was discussed at the meeting. The school team will provide you with the finalized IEP five (5) days after the IEP meeting. After ten (10) days the school will move forward with implementing the IEP.
- 10. If things go awry, bring an advocate or attorney with you.
The important tip here is don’t go it alone. If you are scheduled to attend an IEP meeting where you are planning to request new services and you suspect the district will deny these requests, are in disagreement with the goals and objectives proposed by the school team, or disagree with an evaluation/assessment that was conducted by the school team and are planning to request an independent educational examination (IEE), you should plan on retaining an experienced advocate or attorney that knows special education law.
Forte Law Group is one of only a very few law firms within the state of Connecticut that is dedicated to exclusively representing families and children with special needs. Whether you need an attorney to attend your child’s PPT meeting, represent you during mediation, or need an attorney to bring a due process action against the school district, Forte Law Group stands apart because we provide our clients with an unprecedented amount of legal and educational guidance, resources and support throughout the entire scope of your legal representation.
Jeffrey L. Forte is both an advocate and attorney who is certified in special education advocacy.