"How To" Tips for Successful IEP Meetings

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March 31, 2009

ISSN: 1538-3202

Issue: 479
Subscribers: 68,807

In This Issue:

Plan & Prepare for the IEP Meeting

Use a Parent Agenda

How to Use a Parent IEP Attachment

The Power of Your Written Follow-Up Letter


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What's in Store at Wrightslaw 2009?

From Emotions to Advocacy
-the Special Education Survival Guide

You'll get copies of:

1. Pre-Meeting Worksheet

2. Sample Parent Agenda

3. Tips for Recording Meetings

4. IEP Meeting Worksheet

5. Sample Letters & Requests

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Advocacy Training on CD-ROM

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Legal Requirements
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Understanding Your Child's Test Scores

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Advocacy Training you CANNOT afford to miss!

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Contact Info

Pete and Pam Wright
Wrightslaw & The Special Ed Advocate
P. O. Box 1008
Deltaville, VA 23043



Copyright 2009, Peter W. D. Wright and Pamela Darr Wright. All rights reserved. Please do NOT reprint or host on your web site without explicit permission.

How To TipsThis week in our IEP series - you'll find advocacy "how to" tips from the experts.

But first, take a look at the spring training schedule. If you want tips from the experts, attend a Wrightslaw Advocacy Training.

*Greater Boston Area, MA: April 2

*Bradenton, FL: April 18

*Bethlehem, PA: April 30

*Chicago, IL: May 2

*Maui, HI: May 29-30

The keys to successful IEP meetings are planning and preparing, organizing information, and knowing how to present your requests.

In this issue of the Special Ed Advocate you will learn about powerful and effective tools to help you take control at IEP meetings and strategies to help you control the outcome.

Please don't hesitate to share this issue with other families, friends, and colleagues.

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Plan & Prepare for the IEP Meeting

Pre-Meeting Worksheet

  • What do you want?
  • What does the school want?
  • What action do you want the school to take?
  • How motivated are they to give you what you want?
  • What will prevent them from giving you what you want?
  • How can you address their concerns and fears?

When you learn that an IEP meeting is scheduled, use a Pre-Meeting Worksheet to prepare. (Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy, p. 265)

Fill in the information about the meeting time and date, location, purpose, and who requested the meeting. As you prepare, you will be able to answer more of the questions in the pre-meeting worksheet.

For tips about how to use an IEP Meeting Worksheet for problem resolution and important Post Meeting Strategies (including your thank-you letter) read Chapters 25 and 26 in Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy.

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Use a Parent Agenda

parent writing agendaNo 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. Use this agenda to:

  • prepare for meetings
  • identify concerns and list problems
  • propose solutions to problems
  • identify issues and problems that are not resolved
  • improve parent-school relationships

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).

More IEP Tactics & Strategies, Tips & Tools

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How To Use a Parent IEP Attachment

Confused at IEP meetings? Do you find that your questions are not answered?

In How to Use a Parent IEP Attachment, advocate Judy Bonnell explains how to use a simple form to track your requests, the school's response, issues that were resolved and issues that are still on the table. 

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 Parent IEP Attachment Form in pdf format.

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The Power of Your Written Follow-Up Letter

A follow-up letter is more important than the notes you keep.

Use a follow-up letter to document any disagreements, procedural errors, untruths, misstatements -- all the things that never make it into the summary of the meeting.   

Keep your report factual, not emotional. Do not attack people.

For example, assume you are told, "If you don't like it, then take it to a hearing." 

You might write something like this: 

Written Opinion

Team Meeting


(Child's Name)

I requested an independent educational evaluation. I was told this would not be provided and that I could request a due process hearing if I did not agree. 

Sign it.

Keep a copy for your own records.

You'll find that your written report is very powerful. It will become part of your child's educational record. The school can never say that it did not happen because you documented it.

Indiana Advocate Pat Howey explains how to use a follow-up letter and what to do When Schools Draw Lines in the Sand.

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Great Products From Wrightslaw

Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition, by Pam and Pete Wright Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind

Surviving Due Process: Stephen Jeffers v. School Board

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