Wrightslaw  l  Wrightslaw Way Blog  l  IDEA 2004  l  Store  l  Yellow Pages for Kids

 Home > Ask the Advocate > Preparing for IEP Meetings - Provide Information, Share Concerns

The Special Ed Advocate newsletter
It's Unique ... and Free!

Enter your email address below:

Training Programs

Apr 2 - Nashua, NH

Apr 19 - Denver, CO

Apr 23 - Park City, UT

May 13 - Virginia Beach, VA

May 15 - Virginia Beach, VA

Full Schedule

Be a Hero ...

 Jason at Ft. Benning
... to a Hero
Learn more


Topics from A-Z
Free Newsletter
Seminars & Training
Yellow Pages for Kids
Press Room

Books & Training

Wrightslaw Storesecure store lock
  Advocate's Store
  Student Bookstore
  Exam Copies
Training Center
Bulk Discounts
Military Discounts
Student Discounts
Mail & Fax Orders

Advocacy Library

Cool Tools
Doing Your Homework
Ask the Advocate
Newsletter Archives
Short Course Series
Success Stories

Law Library

Fed Court Complaints
IDEA 2004
McKinney-Vento Homeless
Section 504


American Indian
Assistive Technology
Autism Spectrum
Behavior & Discipline
College/Continuing Ed
Due Process
Early Intervention
  (Part C)

Episodic, such as
   Allergies, Asthma,
   Diabetes, Epilepsy, etc

Future Planning
High-Stakes Tests
Homeless Children
IDEA 2004
Identification & Child Find
Juvenile Justice
Law School & Clinics
Letters & Paper Trails
LRE / Inclusion
Military / DOD
Parental Protections
PE and Adapted PE
Privacy & Records
Procedural Safeguards
Progress Monitoring
Related Services
Research Based

Response to Intervention

Restraints / Seclusion
   and Abuse

School Report Cards
Section 504
Teachers & Principals
Twice Exceptional (2e)
VA Special Education

Resources & Directories

Advocate's Bookstore
Advocacy Resources
  Disability Groups
  State DOEs
  State PTIs
Free Flyers
Free Pubs
Free Newsletters
Legal & Advocacy
   Legal Terms
   Assessment Terms
Best School Websites


Print this page

Preparing for IEP Meetings:
How to Provide Information & Share Concerns
by Pat Howey, Advocate

Question: How can I prepare for my child's IEP meeting? When should I give information to the school? Should I share everything with the IEP team?

Answer: Your child’s IEP team must have all important, relevant information about your child to prepare a good IEP. If you want a good IEP for your child, you need to share your concerns and information you have about your child. This will help the IEP team do its job.

Sharing Information and Concerns

If the IEP team is aware of the parents’ concerns and what the parents want for their child, the team can do a better job.

Parents should give information to the team at least several days before the team is scheduled to meet. Some parents are afraid that if they give information to the team too soon, the team will find more reasons to say "no".

Parents should not use this as an excuse to hold back important information from the team or to keep information from the team until the day of the IEP meeting. If the IEP team does not want to use information provided by the parents, they won’t use that information, regardless of when you provide it.

Be considerate. Give the team your information well in advance of the IEP meeting.

Many parents find that when they provide information about their child and their ideas about their child’s educational program in writing several days before the meeting, the child receives a better IEP.

No One Likes Surprises

Assume you turn up at your child's IEP meeting with several pages of new information or a new evaluation on your child. The IEP team was not aware of this information until you present it during the meeting.

How will the team respond? Some members will be upset to learn that you had important information but did not share it with them. They are likely to feel that you are trying to ambush them.

Change the facts. Do you remember how you felt during your first special education meeting? You walked into the room and sat in a little chair with lots of school folks who appeared to be sitting in big chairs.

Everyone was well-dressed. One person asked to be called “Doctor.”

Someone handed you a long report that included words and terms that you were unfamiliar with. The “Doctor” read the report aloud quickly. Someone asked you if you had any questions. Confused and embarrassed, you mumbled, “No”.

You may not remember much about that IEP meeting because you were upset, confused, overwhelmed, and perhaps a little angry. You knew the meeting was important. Because you did not have the written report before the meeting, you did not have an opportunity to read it, study it, or formulate any questions. When you received the report during the meting, you did not know what to say or do.

This is what happens to IEP team members when you wait until the day of the IEP meeting to give them information about your child. When you take them by surprise, some members will feel angry and upset because they were not prepared for your surprise. Some will assume you did not give them the information before the meeting because you do not trust them.

Do you want the people who are building your child’s IEP to be angry and frustrated? Do you think the team will do a great job on the IEP if they are upset and frustrated with you? Of course not.

Do not spring surprises on the IEP team. This is not the time to "pay them back" for surprising you earlier. Do not let the past actions of others affect your behavior in the present.

You need to give the team all the information they need, in writing, several days before the meeting.

The response of your child's IEP team may be a pleasant surprise!


Parent Threats: Refusing to Sign the IEP - Pat has advice for a parent who is refusing to sign the IEP until the school provides the services she wants.

What to Do When the School Ignores Your Requests - Pat offers commonsense advice to a parent who is frustrated because the school has ignored her requests for help.

Meet Pat Howey

Pat HoweyPatricia Howey has supported families of children with disabilities since 1985. She has a specific learning disability and became involved in special education when her youngest child entered kindergarten. Pat has children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren who have a variety of disabilities and she has used her experience to advocate for better special education services for several of them.

Pat is a charter member of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA), serving on its Board of Directors from 2000 through 2003. She has been a Commissioner on the Tippecanoe (County) Human Relations Committee, a graduate of Leadership Lafayette and Partners in Policymaking, and a member of the Wrightslaw Speakers Bureau. She has been on the faculty of the College of William and Mary Law School’s Institute of Special Education Advocacy since its inception in 2011.

Pat has an A.S. and a B.A. in Paralegal Studies from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, where she graduated magna cum laude. She is an Indiana Registered Paralegal and an affiliate member of the Indiana Bar and the American Bar Associations.

Pat began her advocacy career as a volunteer for the Task Force on Education for the Handicapped (now InSource), Indiana’s Parent Training and Information Center. In 1990, she opened her advocacy practice and served families throughout Indiana by representing them at IEP meetings, mediation, and due process hearings.

In 2017, Pat closed her advocacy practice and began working on a contract basis as a special education paralegal. Attorneys in Indiana, Texas, and California contracted with her to review documents, spot issues, draft due process complaints, prepare for hearings, and assist at hearings. In January 2019, she became an employee of the Connell Michael Kerr law firm, owned by Erin Connell, Catherine Michael, and Sonja Kerr. Her duties have now expanded to assisting with federal court cases.

"Changing the World -- One Child at at Time.

>Contact Information

Patricia L. Howey, B.A., IRP
POB 117
West Point, Indiana 47992-0117
E-mail: specialedconsulting@gmail.com
Webpage: https://cmklawfirm.com/

To Top

Created: 06/26/06
Revised: 07/15/19