About the IEP Meeting
Go ahead and attend the meeting, but as soon as you get there tell them that you were unable to prepare because you do not know why they have asked for the meeting.
If the meeting gets out of hand, repeat that you were unable to prepare for the meeting because you did not know what would be discussed, and ask them to “reconvene at a later date when you will be able to participate as an informed member of the team”.
If the meeting is going fairly well, still respond to whatever is presented with, “Well, I didn’t know we were going to discuss this. Let me get back to you about it in a few days.”
That will give you time to figure out your plan and respond in writing once you have had time to think about the whole meeting.
Don’t agree or do anything at the meeting. If they wanted you to be prepared and be a full participant they would have told you what the meeting is about ahead of time. You control whether or not they catch you off guard. Just go there to find out what they want and then respond to it in writing. Read “Letter to a Stranger" once you have had time to think.
About the Teachers:
The teachers who are having trouble with your son are basically saying that they would be happy to teach him if he would just stop having his disability. Tough.
They get the whole kid. If you can live through it, so can they. They are a public school. He is the public.
When they say, “He . . .
doesn’t pay attention,
wanders off task,
drives the teacher to drink,
doesn’t show his work on math problems,
You say, “That is part of his disability. Let’s take a look at...
his program (IEP) and see if we need to change the goals (increase services)
accommodations (an accommodation is something the teacher does to level the playing field for the student, not something the child changes to make life easier for the teacher)
placement (like a nice private school for gifted students [not likely], not a “resource” room for a gifted kid)
or maybe add some staff training (like have an expert come into the school and train the teachers how to teach a bright busy child).”
About the Chart:
What needs to end is this chart full of sad face stickers.
How do they think that makes him feel? Do they think the sad face stickers are going to change his disability? Does the kid in the wheelchair get sad faces on her chart for not walking well? If they gave the kid in the wheelchair sad face stickers do they think it would change the way she walks?
You son has a hefty dose of a neurological deficit that affects his global behavior. He is also a child who attends a public school.
He is also a child who they will educate and will not damage by inappropriate behavior on their part. That is a sentence you may want to state at the meeting depending on how the meeting goes. My bet is you will find an opportunity to make that statement - politely, no yelling, even if it kills you.
Read this, Behavior Problems and Discipline, before the meeting and read it in detail later after the meeting when you have time.
About the IEP:
Most IEPs are not great.
Buy and learn what is in these books:
Writing Measurable IEP Goals and Objectives by Barbara D. Bateman and Cynthia M. Herr
Preparing Instructional Objectives by Roger Mager
Measuring Instructional Results, by Roger Mager.
www.amazon.com sells all of them.
Then make sure you participate in writing future IEPs.
If you really look at what the IEP says about your son’s present level of performance, what it expects him to accomplish and provides for accommodations, you may see that it could use some additional information and tweaking.
If the IEP team and all your son’s teachers were abducted by aliens tonight, would the people who stepped in to take their place be able to do it seamlessly based on what is in the IEP? If you close up the holes it may be easier for everyone to follow it and to understand your son’s disability and degree of disability.
Order the books and organize and calm yourself in preparation for Thursday’s meeting. All you need to do there is take notes and respond with common sense as appropriate.
If you get over your head, remind them that you did not know about the subject of the meeting until you arrived and you would like to "reconvene the meeting at a later date when you can participate as a fully informed member of the IEP team”.
How do I Find an Advocate?
In my area, who would be a good advocate, or how do I research and find one on my own?
Use the Yellow Pages for Kids state directory to find advocates, resources, and disability information for your state.
The Yellow Pages for Kids User Guide will teach you how to be a more effective advocate. Learn how to build your team, get educated about your child's disability, find special education advocacy training, locate a parent group, and get legal and advocacy help.
Research Editor, Wrightslaw
Printer-friendly copy of Teacher Says, "I Don't Care if He Has an IEP" by Suzanne Whitney Heath.