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Changing the Dynamics of IEP Team Meetings: Online Draft IEP Forms

by Wrightslaw

Draft IEPs Developed in Good Faith

Draft IEPThe school system I work for sends out Draft IEPs to parents by email. The word DRAFT is written across the page with a yellow highlighter to make sure parents know it is a draft. The school system sees this as a way to send information ahead of time so the parent has a copy prior to the meeting, and to determine if they want to bring an advocate to the meeting.

Sending a draft home is a good faith effort by the school to share information with the parents before the meeting. During the meeting, parents do not see information projected on the wall for the first time. Preparing a draft saves time. Several times in the meeting, the draft can be edited to reflect all team members’ comments. The draft IEP does not have to be retyped if all team members agree the draft is fine.

“Is this a ‘done deal’?”

I do not have the impression that the school system is saying that draft IEPs are ‘set in stone.’  But, I can see how receiving the 20-40 page online draft IEP in tiny 7 font 48 hours before the meeting will make some parents feel like ‘it is a done deal.’

It is intimidating to go through this long document. Parents describe signing off on it as through “I’m going to a closing on a house,” or “This feels like buying a car.”

Online IEPs De-personalize Team Meetings

IEP online software changes the way schools and parents interact. School employees do not have the skills to be able to talk, answer questions, run a meeting, and keyboard at the same time.  IEP team meetings feel de-personalized, with all eyes on the laptop or the wall projection, instead of looking at each other face to face.

It is tedious to type so much information on these online IEP forms. The team focuses on the form, not on the child. I’ve been in meetings where team members shout out… “you misspelled that word,” ” you typed an ‘i’ and not an ‘o’ there,” etc.

Online IEPs have introduced a shift in perspective. As skills increase, it may get better. But we are in the ‘guinea pig’ phase now. I dislike what is happened with the team dynamics.

Recently, I sat in on a 1.5 hour IEP meeting with 9 people at the table. The team used an online IEP form. I wanted to take data on the number of eye contacts between team members vs. “all eyes on the laptop or projection screen” as an indicator of team dynamics.

What U.S. DOE says about Draft IEPs

The Commentary to the federal Special Education Regulations published by the U.S. Dept of Education discusses draft IEPs. (p. 46678)

“We do not encourage public agencies to prepare a draft IEP prior to the IEP Team meeting, particularly if doing so would inhibit a full discussion of the child’s needs. However, if a public agency develops a draft IEP prior to the IEP Team meeting, the agency should make it clear to the parents at the outset of the meeting that the services proposed by the agency are preliminary recommendations for review and discussion with the parents.”

“The public agency also should provide the parents with a copy of its draft proposals, if the agency has developed them, prior to the IEP Team meeting so as to give the parents an opportunity to review the recommendations of the public agency prior to the IEP Team meeting, and be better able to engage in a full discussion of the proposals for the IEP.” (emphasis added)

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24 Comments on "Changing the Dynamics of IEP Team Meetings: Online Draft IEP Forms"


My son’s school plays too many games since I reported the school psychologist who made rude comments about my son. doctor not wanting to review the papers at the PPT meeting because he did not like my son’s doctor. Everyone involved at the meeting lied about it. The PPT was parent request and I ended on a circus having a total different type of unprofessional meeting. At the end of the meeting I asked how about the reasons i requested the meeting and he answers, thats not why we are here today, excuse me??? meeting was a parent request. im the one who says why we are here today and I was asked when the meeting started and I was very clear. The guidance tried to fix things telling him in front of everyone, yes, that’s why we are here. I gave you the right documents, but he answered to her, “well i dont have them.”


The final copy of the IEP says the word “DRAFT” in all of the current goals and the school district says it is legal to cross out the word draft and write the parent’s initials stating that the IEP is legal and binding document. I insist we are in disagreement leaving that word since in the district computer system those changes are not being done. This IEP should have been done last September. please HELP


My daughter’s middle school has a separate signature sheet, and then spends 10 minutes writing info into a Prior Written Notice form. The Special Education Case Manager then writes the IEP with no additional input. Is there an IDEA regulation that addresses this?


My school district is constanting changin my son’s IEP after I have read it and reread it. They always leave the room to provide a clean copy to me at the very last minute. Then when I get home they have added and changed things in my son’s IEP. How can I beat them at their own game?


I like the draft IEPs. I am going to ask for such. I attended a workshop on how to understand each page of the IEP. A draft IEP would give me a chance to better understand proposed goals but to ask for baselines, if necessary, as well as more detailed information. Beyond, questions about about progress monitoring, I am able to ask, if needed, what does that goal look like? For example, “a child will make progress in reading” is not a goal. Determining the actual test measures with timelines written into the IEP with benchmarks with specific reading levels goals” are measurable written goals. I like that draft as it gives me time to research and truly serve on the team. Ask,”what will each goal look like in the classroom?” as the IEP will be specific and not general a terms.