Participate in Your Childs IEP

By: JoAnn Collins

Are you the parent of a child with a disability in special education, who would like parenting tips on how to be an equal participant in your child’s Individual Education Plan (IEP) development? Are you afraid to give your opinion because you are not a professional? Then this article is for you; learn six easy to use tips that will help you assertively participate in the process for the good of your child.

Tip 1: Ask a lot of questions. The process can be overwhelming; The IEP meeting usually has 5-10 disability educators plus the parents. Ask questions whenever you need to, so that you can understand what is being said by school personnel.

Tip 2: Ask the disability educator to slow down, and explain something that you do not understand. Sometimes school personnel speak very fast, and do not stop to explain what they are talking about. This is especially true, when they are giving parents results of a psychological evaluation. You should ask them to show you the results of the tests and explain what the scores mean.

Tip 3: Bring a written list of items that you would like to discuss at the meeting; it can be hand written or typed. Check off each item as it is discussed. Leave space at the bottom of the list to handwrite any new issues that come up at the meeting.

Tip 4: Consider bringing a parent input statement to your child’s IEP meeting. A parent input statement is a one page document that states what you believe your child’s needs are, and what special education services your child needs. It should be typed, if possible, and ask that it be attached to your child’s IEP.

Tip 5: Use the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to support your position. Peter and Pam Wright have written several books including Special Education Law; second addition. This book is easy to read, and use as a reference at any school meetings.The book can be purchased at http://www.wrightslaw.com.

Tip 6: Read the IEP document before you leave the meeting. What was said at the meeting is not important, what is important is what is written in the document. Make sure that any important discussions about your child are included in the meeting notes, and that all educational services promised are listed.

With these 6 tips, you are well on your way to learning to assertively participate in your child’s IEP meeting. You know your child better than school personnel, so you have a lot of valuable information to share with the team. Good luck in your advocacy journey!


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