As summer begins to wind down, have you looked at your child’s IEP since it’s creation or since the end of last school year? IEP time can be daunting and time consuming and you can sometimes feel like Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole. When you go to your IEP meeting, it can be a lengthy meeting but know that your child is the constant in the situation. Your child’s education program for the year is created and tweaked at that table. So even if your child’s IEP is a month after school starts or after Christmas Break, I hope that these tips help to start off the beginning of the year and beyond.
- Read over your child’s present IEP. Do not rely on what you talked about in your meeting to be the gospel. Read over the IEP to make sure that everything that was discussed is in there and remember that this is a legal binding document. Go over every sentence. If you have a fresh IEP and you have documented in your notes and in your recording that your child is going to be getting a service that he or she is not getting, write a detailed letter to the IEP team members which can be sent via email to make sure that you bring up the missing item and find out why it’s not there and ask for clarification. Also, you can do this to tell them what you took away from a meeting.
- Photocopy and highlight parts of your IEP that you wish to discuss. Make a list of the things that you need the district to elaborate on. Know your child’s right to FAPE, Free Appropriate Public Education required by your state’s law.
- Be sure to understand how your child’s goal is measured before you leave that table. Do not assume that it will be done through test. If you have a child that is receiving speech, speech is not measurable through test. Ask how data will be taken everyday and how and when you will be provided documents about your child’s progress before progress reports.
- If your child has challenging behaviors, go with your data about the behavior and request a behavior plan if it is warranted. Also ask the principal if you can meet with him or her to talk about discipline to make transition easier for you and your child and to let he or she know what is expected of them.
- Make sure you specify whether or not your child requires district transportation and have it written in your IEP.
- At the beginning of the school year, see if you can schedule a 15 to 20 minute meeting before meet the teacher with your child’s teacher to go over what is in your child’s IEP and to talk about your child’s learning style as well as your child’s likes and dislikes that may affect he or she at school. Know that you are your child’s first teacher and you know your child better than anyone. If your child has never attended the school before, it would be a great idea to see if your child could tour the school before meet the teacher to ease the first day jitters for both of you.
- Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer. Sign up to volunteer at your child’s school when you can even if it means you have take cutting jobs home with you or you have to volunteer on you day off. I know that not every parent can afford to take a day off, but find something that you can do to help your school. You can support your child’s school in the process and you have the right to volunteer at your child’s school even if you have to ask your teacher to leave the work in the office for you in order to not disturb the classroom environment.
- After completing your homework at any time during the year, you may see that your child’s IEP needs to be adjusted for what every reason. You can call an IEP meeting at any time. The district is required to hold the meeting at a mutually agreed upon time within thirty days of your written request. Make every request in writing.
- Remember that if it is not in writing, it does not exist.
- Be cordial and be nice even if you do not want to. You can catch more flies with honey than with buttermilk.
Know that this is not easy. You often feel as though the district knows a language that you do not know. Take into consideration that you are not alone. Search for local non-profit agencies that may have parents that can offer support. Reach out to family members that can come and take notes for you. Be positive and go in with a positive attitude. Know that this document is a working evolving document and it is not written in stone. Happy IEPing…..
Just a little IEP humor!