A Closer Look at IEPs:
Advocacy Strategies, Tips, & Tools

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April 29, 2008

ISSN: 1538-3202

Issue: 435
Subscribers: 60,736

In This Issue:

Parent IEP Attachments: A Simple, But Powerful Tool

Playing 20 Questions With the Devil

What To Do When School Officials Don't Respond

Can the IEP Team Prepare a Draft IEP Before the Meeting?

Preparing for IEP Meetings:
Use a Parent Agenda

IEP Caselaw: Knable v. Bexley

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Individualized Education Programs (IEPs)
IEP Caselaw
8 Steps to Better IEP Meetings
Perspectives & Power Struggles at IEP Meetings

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IEP meetingAs a parent you are an essential member of the IEP team. You are not a spectator, you are an active participant.

In taking A Closer Look at IEPs, this week we'll share some simple but effective tools you can use to add a little power to your punch in the IEP process.

  • Use a "Prior Written Notice" form
  • Make a parent request/school response form
  • Review the "draft" IEP and prepare a written report
  • Use a Parent Agenda

In this issue of the Special Ed Advocate we'll tell you how. We share effective advocacy strategies, tips, and tools from seasoned advocates that will enable you to become an equal participant in the IEP process.

Don't hesitate to forward this issue to other families, friends, and colleagues.

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Parent IEP Attachment: A Simple, But Powerful Tool    

Do you find that requests made at the IEP meeting are sometimes forgotten, or sidestepped?

Do you have a good plan in your IEP, but have difficulty getting the plan implemented?

Prior Written Notice
clearly states that parental requests must be accepted or rejected. The IEP team must list the reasons for accepting or rejecting the parent's proposal.

Here's a simple tool you can use to document your requests, decisions made on your requests, and the reasons provided for these decisions.

Parent Advocate Judy Bonnell designed a powerful little tool, the Parent IEP Attachment, to make the IEP process a little more "parent friendly" and help keep the IEP Team on track.

Here is a sample of Judy's Prior Written Notice Form -- a great example of KISS!

IEP for __________________________________

Date __________________

Proposal  Acc Rej Reason

Start Date

Person Responsible

Read more about How to Use the Parent IEP Attachment.

Download the Prior Written Notice Form in pdf format.

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Playing 20 Questions with the Devil

question markHave you attended an IEP meeting and found you were having difficulty getting answers to your questions? Did it seem like the other IEP team members weren't listening to your concerns and requests?

You may feel like you're playing "20 Questions With the Devil."

What To Do When School Officials Don't Respond

In How to Handle Disagreements at IEP Meetings, parent attorney Sonja Kerr describes a strategy parents can use when caught up in the IEP meeting quagmire.

Don't argue! Just take notes. Here's how. Read article

Sonja describes a simple tool that parents can use very effectively create your own written record of what happened, or didn't happen, during the meeting.

Tip: After the meeting, send a copy of your form to the school, along with a follow-up letter that says, "Gee, I wish we could have answers to these questions."

The best thing that may happen is that the school actually responds to you and you know where you stand.

The worst thing that may happen is that your form and letter become the basis for your position that the school is not allowing you to be an equal participant in the IEP process -- and that your child is being denied FAPE.

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 Can the IEP Team Prepare a "Draft IEP" Before an IEP Meeting?

Yes . . .

Sharing information leads to healthier working relationships between parents and school personnel - and better IEPs for children. Shared information may include draft IEPs, evaluations, written reports, and parent agendas prepared by the parents.

But . . .

"It is not permissible for an agency to have the final IEP completed before an IEP Team meeting begins." (Commentary, FR page 46678)

caution signDraft IEPs are only "drafts", they are not set in stone. In order not to limit parental input, IEP teams should use draft IEPs with caution.

When the school presents parents with a "draft IEP," most parents will assume that school members of the IEP team are not interested in their concerns and input about their child. Under these circumstances, you would probably feel the same way.

In Can the IEP Team Prepare a "Draft IEP" Before an IEP Meeting?, advocate Pat Howey explains precautions that should be taken if they use a draft IEP.

While IDEA 2004 discourages the use of "draft" IEPs, the Commentary to the Federal Regulations encourages school staff and parents to come to the IEP meetings prepared to discuss findings of evaluations, concerns about progress, and to make recommendations.

Tip for school members of IEP teams: If you plan to use a "draft IEP," provide the parents with a copy of this document well in advance of the IEP meeting.

Learn more about IEPs.

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Preparing for School Meetings: Use a Parent Agenda

No one likes surprises - especially at IEP meetings.

Provide the school with a list of your concerns and questions before the meeting so school members of your child's team will have time to prepare and address your concerns. One effective way to provide this information is with a Parent Agenda.

Send several copies of your Parent Agenda to the school for members of your child's IEP team. Bring extra copies to the meeting.

Note: This Sample Parent Agenda was provided by A.J.'s parents. We thought it was such a good example that we included it in Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy (see page 267).

For more tips about how to prepare for meetings, how to use a Parent Agenda, and an IEP Meeting Worksheet, read Chapters 25 and 26 in Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy.

More IEP Tactics & Strategies
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IEP Caselaw : Knable v. Bexley City Sch. District

In Knable v. Bexley City School District, a case about a child with a behavior disorder, the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued a clear, well-written decision about and the need to allow parents to play a meaningful role in the process of formulating their child's IEP.

The Court discussed IEPs, IEP meetings, draft IEPs, IEP requirements, substantive and procedural violations,

In a discussion of "draft" IEPs, the Court held that the school's use of a draft IEP did not meet the requirements of the IDEA or its associated regulations, nor did it contain a summary of the parents' procedural rights. Read the decision

Read more cases about IEPs.

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