Preparing for IEP Team Meetings
Question: How do I prepare for an Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting?
Answer: There is a simple way to prepare for IEP Team Meetings.
I call it the “Three Ps of Preparation.” Plan, Produce, and Provide.
Planning is important as you prepare for IEP meetings. The first step is to review and organize your child’s file.
Organize the file in chronological order. It is easier to find items if you put the oldest papers on the top and the newest ones on the bottom. (See, Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy, 2nd Edition, Chapter 9, pp. 67-68.)
After you have organized the file, create a list of documents. (See, Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy, 2nd Edition, Chapter 9, pp. 70-72.)
Creating this list is the second most important thing you will do. It lets you be more efficient. You will be able to quickly and easily find and point out critical things to the Team. You will have a more complete school history than anyone else on the Team. It is logical for a parent to step into the role of special education project manager for your child.
You will become better at negotiating for services because you will always have at hand the information you need. You will be able to use the document list to convince other Team members that this child needs different services.
Produce a Parent Report – in writing!
A Parent Report gives the Team the most reliable and recent functional information about your child. A Parent Report tells how your child functions during the entire twenty-four hour day. Without this information, the Team knows your child only during the small snapshot of time that is the school day.
Read more about Parent Reports.
This Report may also be called a Parent Agenda. (See, Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy, 2nd Edition, pp. 266-268.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act requires Team members to report the child’s functional performance in the Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance.
You will find the requirements for using present levels of functional performance to develop functional goals on pages 99 and 245 of Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition.
You will find what you need to know about functional performance and functional goals in this article, http://www.wrightslaw.com/howey/iep.functional.perf.htm.
Your Parent Report gives the Team the information it needs to write the functional part of the Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance.
The Present Levels section is the most important part of the Individualized Education Program (IEP). It is the foundation for everything else. Without your input, the Present Levels section is not complete. (See, http://www.wrightslaw.com/howey/iep.present.levels.htm.)
Tip: In your Report, avoid words that attack others or show anger. That makes you lose credibility with the other Team members. Once lost, trust takes a long time to rebuild. Stay away from words like, best, most appropriate, always, never, and all. Make sure the requests you make in your Parent Report are reasonable.
Provide your Parent Report twice.
A week before the meeting, provide a copy to everyone you think will attend the meeting (or everyone on the list you should have received from the school). Take extra copies to the meeting in case someone forgets their copy or someone comes that you weren’t expecting. Having enough copies for everyone is a way to keep the meeting moving along quickly and efficiently.
Once you begin using the “Three Ps of Preparation,” you may find that your IEP Team Meetings are no longer multi-day marathons.
The Parent Report -
You will be better able to keep your emotions under control. You may even gain new respect from the other Team members because you have learned to be efficient and prepared.
Meet Pat Howey
Howey has a B.A. in Paralegal Studies from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College
where she graduated with honors. She is an active member of the Council
of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) and other organizations.
In 2004, the Learning Disabilities
Association of Indiana honored Pat with its Outstanding Service
Award for her commitment and compassion towards students with disabilities.