This is such a crucial time of year for all of us “Special Needs” families.
It’s time for the dreaded annual IEP (Independent Educational Plan) review.
Please, Please, Please remember the following very IMPORTANT actions you need to take as you prepare.
- The IEP and CST (Child Study Team) meeting is yours, NOT theirs! This meeting is taking place because of you, your child, and your family
- Come prepared Make sure you prepare an agenda of what you want to discuss, see happen, plans and interventions “needed,” etc… Don’t let them dictate the meetings time frame and events. Yes, you may want to discuss those evaluations and test scores, but it is NOT the only reason you are there. Make sure you have ALL re-eval documents a minimum of 10 days prior to the meeting. Understand what they mean and what are your child’s strength and weakness areas yes, but unless you need clarification…going over stats and percentages should not monopolize the time you have to meet. If your child is already classified and has been, chances are you are aware and agree that he/she has a disability and is entitled to services. So, get down to business after a short (15 minute) review of the evals. NEVER, deny or refuse triennial re-evaluations!
- Parental Concerns is IMPERATIVE!! Every IEP has a “Parental Concerns” section, it’s usually a tiny box only about 1/4″ wide….. This does NOT mean you have to fit all of your concerns here! Come with an already prepared, typed statement of your parental concerns (probably what you intend to discuss anyway) and formally REQUEST it be included in the official (LEGAL) document of your child’s IEP. This way it becomes a full part of that IEP and everyone your child works with will have access to your input.
- Record, Report, Re-state Most schools will send you a confirmation letter stating the time, place, and whom will attend the IEP meeting. It may ask if you intend to bring someone? If you request any other professionals and staff? and whether or not you plan to record the meeting? YES! You want to record the meeting! No, not to antagonize or catch them….. but to have a record for your own to review or for the review of others that may have been unable to attend (That parent out there earning the paycheck who can’t afford another day off the job). You are emotionally involved. Therefore you may not remember or even understand what is being stated/proposed and you need to review the meeting later when you are in a calmer state. The recording will also serve as a resource you can refer to in order to clarify the items discussed for your follow up summary.
- Follow up summary YES! ALWAYS follow up EVERY meeting, phone call, discussion, teacher email, notes and ANY contact you have with the professionals that service your child with a follow up summary…. “My understanding of what was discussed, proposed, implemented etc….”
- Finally, and probably MOST IMPORTANT!!! Send ALL correspondence to no less than 3 people in your district ie. the case manager, head of special services, and the building principal. This will ensure you are heard! As well as provide a time stamped/documented record (always send via email) of your insights and perceptions. It also helps that others on your child’s case are aware that they are accountable to replying and taking actions by others within the system. A recent statement from a client…..”thank you- I did the “copy 3 people on email thing” the last 2 times- whew boy does that work! THANK YOU! “
- Get support! If you feel you need some support or expert advice, contact us here at Special Needs NJ (973-534-3402) to talk to an Advocate/Special Education Consultant