Have you ever attended an IEP meeting that began well, but suddenly turned to complete chaos?
My child’s long awaited meeting to determine eligibility went from fantastic to horrible in 5 seconds flat!
Although my husband and I signed the evaluation consent forms in October, it wasn’t until May that the team met to review the reports.
The meeting got off to a great start. The evaluation reports were reviewed, and eligibility was discussed. Note: During this discussion, an administrator left the room. The team quickly determined that my child did meet the state’s requirements for Autism Spectrum Disorder and that his medical diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome was educationally relevant.
No one objected to anything and the eligibility form was passed around the table for signatures. When it was returned to the LEA, it only had eight signatures. Eleven people were at the table.
Without warning, the meeting suddenly turned to complete chaos!
The administrator returned accompanied by her boss. Notes were being written and passed while other people were talking on the phone. The “team” members who disagreed remained silent and would not come forward but it was obvious who they were. The meeting was being tape recorded by both the school and us.
The IEP meeting ended with no resolution. The eligibility document that 8 team members had just signed was ripped up and thrown away!
My husband and I left the meeting shocked and confused.
How can an IEP team work together if key players won’t “play”?
I’m sorry you had this experience – it happens more often than most people think. When parents have this experience, they are shocked and stunned. They have no idea why the meeting fell apart with no resolution of the issue. This is not the way to enhance parent-school relationships. There are a couple of reasons why meetings fall apart. In your case, I think the reason is two-fold.
The majority of the team supported your request. A couple of people did not agree, so the school team did not have consensus in advance.
They found they had a problem on their hands and you were taping the meeting. Someone decided to resolve the dilemma by calling in the Special Ed or ESE director. Either this is the real decision-maker or they had a staff problem and didn’t know what else to do.
You need to follow up with a polite, factual, business-like letter that describes the background, the purpose of the meeting, who attended, the split between members, the principal coming in, what sounds like confusion, the call to the ESE director, the meeting ending with no resolution, and what you were told.
We call this the “Letter to the Stranger” because you are using it to make your case to a person who has decision making authority and whom you may not know. The purpose of the letter is to persuade the “stranger” that your request is reasonable so this person wants to right the wrong.
Writing a good “Stranger” letter takes time, determination and patience. If you can pull it off, it may well resolve the problem.
There is an article about “The Letter to the Stranger” that tells a story and gives examples. Read this article so you understand what you need to accomplish and who you are really writing to:
Read the articles on this page and also the sample letters: