IEP meetings can be overwhelming, so it is important to know the process and how to best prepare for the meeting. In public schools IEP meetings occur once a year and usually have a reevaluation every three years. The meeting usually includes a special education teacher, general education teacher, psychologist, school administrator/representative and, most importantly, the student’s parent or guardian. If a student receives speech services, occupational therapy or other services those services providers would also be invited.
1. Come prepared.
When you are notified of the upcoming meeting, pull out a copy of last year’s IEP and familiarize yourself with the minutes and goals. If the team is suggesting changes to the minutes or services it is important to understand why they are suggesting changes.
2. Know your rights.
In a public school each time you have a meeting about and IEP you should get a copy of your rights. You can request this at any time if you have questions about your rights. This document can also be found here:
3. Bring an advocate.
This process can be overwhelming and busy parents often do not have as much time as they would like to prepare for meetings. It is your right, if you choose, to bring someone you trust that knows your child and the IEP process. It is always helpful to have another perspective, especially someone that is familiar with your situation.
4. Consider having your child present for part of the meeting.
This is especially important for middle school and older students. It is helpful for them to hear how they are doing well and what they need to work on. It will also help them become advocates for themselves, so they can ask for additional support.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and provide input.
Parents and guardians know their child better than their teachers. While teachers are the experts on education, parents are the experts on their child. If you feel there is a skill your student needs improvement on, it is important that it is added to the IEP, so the teachers can support your student. The IEP is a working document and should be changed and added to as necessary throughout the year.