An IEP team must include the parents of the student, a regular education teacher, a special education teacher, a representative of the school district who is knowledgeable about the available resources, who can interpret assessment results, and in general is well-versed in the IEP process. Knowing as much as you can about what an IEP includes and what its purpose is will make you a more powerful parent-advocate.
What to know and how to prepare for your child’s IEP meeting
Last week, a mom in Bakersfield went to her daughter’s IEP. The District proposed to eliminate the child’s direct interventions, and replace them with “consultation” services, where the provider “consults” regularly with the classroom teacher but provides no direct services to the student at all. Mom feels strongly that her daughter needs direct speech therapy and 1:1 behavior support.Two IEP team members emphatically disagreed with Mom’s input and insisted that the child doesn’t need direct services at all—the school psychologist who admitted he spent little more than one hour with the child–and an administrator from the school district, who had never even met her.
In Inglewood, California, another Mom met with the IEP team for a triennial. Her son had been unable to attend school for several months, a result of the long-term effects of chemotherapy for cancer. Several reports were presented at the meeting, but only the school nurse had actually seen the student. The school psychologist and teacher completed their assessments without even talking to him. When she questioned how the school district could propose an IEP for her son without having seen or spoken with him, they told her that if she didn’t agree, she could “go to due process.”
It’s no wonder parents feel outnumbered and outmatched.
What can YOU do to even the playing field?
- Know your rights. Don’t rely on the school district’s information. Take a course, join a support group.
- Research your child’s needs. What types of therapies and interventions are supported by research, and proven to make a difference?
- Build a team of professionals and experts who are knowledgeable about education and who will observe your child at school, attend IEP team meetings, and advise you whether the IEP is appropriate.
- Choose a lawyer who understands what you need and will help you get it.