A three letter acronym could send shivers down your spine if you have a child in a special education program – IEP.
The Individual Education Program Plan (IEP) is a written plan created together by the child’s parents and the school’s special education staff in a meeting format. This plan specifies the student’s goals and the method to obtain these goals during a set period of school time.
The IEP meeting does not have to be scary or a painful experience for parents of special need students. The IEP generally takes place after a student has been evaluated for their disability and eligibility for services has been determined. There are a few steps that you can take as a parent that can help you prepare and have the best possible outcome from this meeting.
- Know your rights as a parent of a special needs student.
- Learn more about those present at the meeting.
- Be informed.
Knowing Your Rights As A Parent Of A Special Needs Student Is Imperative.
One way to understand your rights is to read and review IDEA. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a law requiring services to children with disabilities. This Act covers early intervention, special education, and related services of children with disabilities. Reviewing these rights and bringing a copy to the meeting can help you to better advocate for your child. Remember that advocacy for your own child is your main concern!
Learn More About Those Present At The Meeting.
The IEP meeting will involve several staff members. Generally those present will be you (the parent), a school administrator (usually the principal), the special education teacher, a regular education teacher, speech pathologist, physical therapist, and occupational therapist. Under the rights as a parent, keep in mind you can bring a team too. You are able to bring in your child’s doctor, child’s therapist, and or anyone with understanding or expertise on your child and their disability. These people can help you, support you, and advocate for your child during the meeting.
Image Source: http://specialchildren.about.com/ IEP Meeting Alert Levels Copyright 2006 by Terri Mauro
Be Informed Before Your Meeting!
Knowledge is power so arm yourself with the information you need to be a good advocate for your child. Take time beforehand to understand the program at your child’s school. In addition to the rights your child has under state and federal laws, understanding the school program can help you to ensure your child gets the services he/she needs in school. At the IEP meeting, recommendations for services are discussed.
As your child’s biggest advocate remember that your focus should be on your child getting the needed services for their disability. If you disagree with the school’s recommendation, be sure to say so in the meeting. It is important that all issues are taken care of so your student can start working on their objectives on the next class day.
Lastly, I remind you, you should go into the IEP meeting looking out for the best interest of your child. Of course, there are positive and negative stories from parents and school staff about the IEP meeting, but nonetheless, your focus should remain on your child and his/her best interest!