HomeLearning DifficultiesLegal Rights & AdvocacyIndividuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 2004Individual Education Plan (IEP)

Tips for a Successful IEP Meeting

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By GreatSchools Staff

During the Meeting:

  • Understand that, as the parent, you are an integral part of the IEP team. In fact, federal law requires schools to insure that IEP teams include the parents of the child. Anything you can do to make yourself more comfortable in this meeting will help you to participate more actively.
  • Find a way to personalize your child. When you talk about him, make him recognizable to all team members. Remember that you know him best - strengths, talents, interests and needs, so take in what the professionals have to say, but add your perspective also. Some parents bring a photograph of their child to help keep the discussion student-focused.
  • Be prepared for district staff to refer to assessment data and their observations, to support their opinions about what is appropriate for your child. This may be different from your input but is just as valid. It's important to "see the big picture" - understand your child from different professional points-of-view - to assist in educational planning.
  • Keep focused on what you want answered or provided for your child, not on how to get there - that's the job of the professionals. For example, if you want your child to make more growth in reading, keep that foremost, and don't get stuck on asking for a specific method of teaching you heard about from a friend. However, do make sure that special education and related services are based on peer-reviewed research, to the extent that is practicable.
  • Don't hesitate to ask questions and seek clarification. In any profession, people talk in jargon at times. Since understanding the discussion is essential to supporting your child, you can request at the beginning of the meeting that participants explain any acronyms or special vocabulary they use when they speak.
  • Bring a trusted person with you - spouse, partner, relative, neighbor, friend - so you'll have a support system and another set of ears to hear what others have said. If you decide to bring a friend or advocate, you should inform the school so they are aware of whom you're bringing. The school should tell you if they have a specific policy on other attendees at the IEP meeting. If no one is available to accompany you, you may wish to audiotape the meeting so you can listen to the tape later. However, you'll need to notify the district ahead of time of your intentions; in that case, it's likely the district will also record the meeting.
  • Involve your child in the IEP meeting to the extent appropriate for his age. Federal law requires that the child be included in the IEP meeting whenever transition services are going to be discussed. Those discussions begin with the first IEP to be in effect when the child turns 16 - or younger if the IEP team finds it appropriate to do so or if the state law requires it. When he's 18, he'll be the adult making decisions about his own placement, so it's never too early to include him in the process.
  • Ask to take the IEP home to review if you're unable to make a final decision at the meeting. Even if you agree with the IEP as drafted, it's best to take it home and review it again the next day. You are not required to sign it if you disagree with the IEP, or even if you're uncertain about whether you agree with the IEP. However, you should agree to sign where it shows you attended the meeting.

Comments from readers

"I think it's grate to have all of the teachers in the room "
"The best thing I ever did was hire an outside psychological educational consultant to do a private evaluation and act as my advocate at the IEP meeting. Yes, this is expensive. However, he reviewed previous IEPs and did extensive observations. He was able to point out many things the teachers were doing wrong in the classroom. He was the only person that the child study team listened to at the meeting - they certainly don't care what I have to say. I found this person through a recommendation by an attorney that specialized in educational law. I now have evidence that proves my daughter was denied FAPE, which means I could proceed even further if I choose. This was the only way I could get respect and the program my daughter needed. SECOND best thing - bring a tape recorder to all meetings and then transcribe them. So enlightening to listen to the way the CST team disrespects the parent's contributions. "
"as parent aps/schools/parents reaching out/district supporter it a joke there don't help childen thay gave you a run around i been asking for help for 3yrs because i have a son that has down's and diabetes type 1 you do the best that you can as a parent is there any parent is go thought the some thing tell me about it."
"My child is in a 3rd grade CTT class with an IEP (since 12/08). She has ADHD and is LD in math, reading comprehension, writing, as well as functioning below grade level. The teacher stated that her learning would increase, but is hampered by her behavior. She has no Behavioral Intervention Plan and it was suggested to me to put her in a 12 to 1 class setting. Her last psycho-educational evaluation was 4/08. I requested a re-evaluation in March 09. But, I haven't heard anything from the school. The school year ends June 26th. I don't know what to do? What should be our next step(s) over the summer? My husband and I are so confused about special education. Please help!!!!!!"
"I agree with the 504 but it is sad that the school know about the program but do not tell the parent. My daughter is 8yrs old and has adhd i have been trying to get an iep since last year and the principal has given me the run around she told me that the 504 neede to be done by my child therapist and me. she never mention the school psycologist my daughter grades have dropped from b's to d's and she has unsatisfactory every day. So can you all please stress the importance of the 504 to principal so that parents can know that there is help for children with adhd cleve. public school parent empire computech"
"i have a son in first grade and the school is suggesting we put him in self-contained for the second grade because he is not reading on the proper level and his comprehension skills are behind and he is not independent enough with his writing. need feed back asap my iep meeting is march 2009 and me and my husband don't know if that's best for him. help!!!! "