If you’re new to the process of securing special education resources for your child, it can seem overwhelming. Available resources are typically spelled out by the local school in a proposal known as an Individualized Education Plan (IEP).
The first draft of an IEP is often presented to parents at a meeting with school officials; inexperienced parents sometimes get flummoxed at these meetings. Our Center for Educational Advocacy can help you make sense of the process and stay focused on your goals.
To minimize feeling intimidated, it helps to remember you have choices; IEPs are subject to negotiation, so there’s some degree of wiggle room built into the school district’s initial draft. And it’s not forever: IEPs are reviewed and revised every year as your child develops and their needs change.
So when your school system calls you in to present a proposed IEP, how can you work effectively to shape it? Consider these strategies:
If you’ve received a copy of the proposed IEP in advance, use that time to study it thoroughly before the meeting, so you can be a subject matter expert.
Whether you’ve seen the IEP before or not, take time to review the whole document together as a group. Ask for clarifications on any terms that are unfamiliar to you. Correct any misstated facts; mark any items that need follow-up.
Take as much time as you need. Ask when the school system requires your response. Schedule a follow-up meeting. Get it on everyone’s calendar before you leave the first meeting.
After the meeting, discuss the draft with family members and others in an advisory capacity—especially any items you flagged at the first IEP meeting. As you review the details, make a list of all discussion items and what changes you’d like made.
Reconvene. Be prepared to come with proposed edits, along with any support documents (like reports from medical or behavioral professionals) that back up any requests. If you’re still left with unresolved issues, agree to disagree. You can still sign the parts of the IEP you all agree on.
Ideally, you and your school’s representatives will ultimately finalize a document that supports your child’s education fairly and equitably. You don’t have to face the IEP process alone. Hope Haven’s Center for Educational Advocacy can help you stay focused and provide knowledgeable support. To learn more, call us at (904) 346-5100.