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Tongued Tied at IEP Meetings

12/01/11
by Sharon Lutz

Do you get tongue tied at IEP meetings, not knowing what to say at times?

Here are some answers to questions and comments that have worked for me that I would like to share with you.

1.   “We don’t have to write that down. We automatically do that for our students”.

What do you say to this comment when you want something written in the IEP and the school throws this at you?

Try this.  “That is great, but we still need to have you write that down in case something happens (i.e. we leave school district, they leave school district, someone dies, etc.) and the next group will know what we agreed to.

We have also said, “That is great and since you always do this, there should be no problem in writing this down.  Right?”

Sometimes you have to be a broken record.

2.  “There is not enough room to add the additional modifications or accommodations on the IEP form.  so we will add an addendum or extra sheets at the end of the IEP for these items.”

Be very careful with this.

Any item you want in the IEP MUST be in the IEP, on the official paper of the IEP, and included in the numbering of the sheets, not added to the end as an addendum.

If you would go to due process, the judge would not accept any papers that are “attached” at the end. The judge will only accept the items included within the official IEP document.

We made this mistake and we corrected it.  The school wrote everything we wanted for our son word for word. They tried to put this information at the end of the IEP as “extra sheets.” We requested that it be included in the IEP – on the IEP paper.  They ended up making it work, but the school reduced and edited the requested items.  We were able to reach an acceptable agreement on the finalized version.

3.  “Your child met all of his speech/language goals and is doing fine”.

Every year we would go to the IEP meeting to discuss our son’s annual yearly goals so we could decide as a team what he should accomplish for the next year.

The speech/language therapist would produce documentation showing nicely graphed charts and wording about how well our son did. We did not really understand what she was showing us.

We decided to get a DRAFT IEP before our meeting. We hired an outside speech therapist at our own expense to look over the documents and explain to us what it all meant.  (The school is supposed to provide evidence documentation to the parent in a format they can understand.  We requested this all of the time but never got it).

Our therapist explained what was really happening – our son was not really progressing as well as the school lead us to believe. She showed us areas that needed improvement.  Our therapist put together a new list of items in our son’s best interest.

Remember, you may bring professionals to the IEP meetings you just have to let the school know.  We asked our therapist to attend our IEP meetings.  A professional like this is far less expensive than an attorney. A professional therapist is an expert in her field and can speak the same language as the school therapist.  This discussion comes across as a team effort rather than adversarial.  It was well worth the price for us.  Our son began to have much better goals and started to progress at a better pace than ever before.

With our therapist’s help, we were able to prove regression. We continued to get ESY (extended school services) in the summer to help allow our son to maintain what he learned and not regress before starting the new school year.

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Sharon Lutz (Sharon L.) of Ohio is a parent of 3 sons with learning disabilities (ADHD and Dyslexia). Sharon is an advocate for her sons and has 25 years of experience working with school districts and the IEP process. She is a member of the Learning Disability Association.

Sharon is happy to share her information with parents so that others can benefit from her experiences in advocating for her children.

She started a parent advocate group that was successful in sharing ideas and strategies as well and providing information to parents and the community.

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5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Dad2Luke 12/12/11 at 4:36 pm

    RE: Biased Meeting Notes

    We have had many discussions with our school staff about biased meeting notes. We ask for corrections but it in the end the person holding the pen (or typing on the laptop) has the power. In our case it is a former paralegel, writing as if its for a due process case down the road.

    We have been told in a meeting that the meeting notes are the District’s and we can take notes if we like. Of course our notes will never be part of the record.

    Only solution we can see is to record and get transcripts made. Luckily my state allows parents to record with notice.

  • 2 Daunna 12/08/11 at 11:37 am

    Ruth, write a quick letter: “Thank you for sending the IEP. We were surprised to see additional notes in the IEP that had not been discussed or read aloud to us at the IEP meeting before we signed the consent page. Therefore, we are requesting that the IEP team reconvene to discuss this new information and finalize the IEP.”

    It’s important to document what was done in case of future problems. They’re likely to ask you what your questions are and try to answer without reconvening, but if you agree to that, they’ll likely pull the same stunt in the future. Now you know why you should never consent until you get a written document to read first!

  • 3 Ruth 12/07/11 at 11:59 pm

    My daughter is hard of hearing. Just recently we attended an IEP meeting and the representative taking notes and writing the IEP read the notes after the meeting. This is before we signed anything. We signed. When we got home there were extra notes attached with the IEP that don’t match what she read. I and my husband are furious.

  • 4 Wrightslaw 12/02/11 at 12:41 pm

    Good question Daunna – “How widespread is this practice?” Sharon apparently experienced this during due process in her state (OH). Any others out there who have experienced this – disregard for “attached extra sheets” or “an addendum” to the IEP? How did you handle it?

  • 5 Daunna 12/01/11 at 10:20 pm

    For years Wrightslaw has advised us of the value of parent statements, list of concerns, reports, data, objections, etc. for inclusion the IEP. You have told us how to create and use these documents and how to get schools to include them with the IEP. For example:

       http://www.wrightslaw.com/advoc/tips/bonnell.iep.attach.htm
       http://www.wrightslaw.com/blog/?p=1286

    I have always considered attachments to be an integral part of the IEP, but now, in Item 2 above, we’re hearing that if we go to due process, a judge will disregard attachments or any item not on “official” IEP paper with proper page numbering. How can this be? How widespread is this practice?