Written by Wayne Sager, M.A., BCBA
Knowing your child’s rights can make all of the difference when planning for your child’s IEP (Individualized Educational Plan) meeting. The following steps will help you prepare.
Start preparing early It is best to start preparing at least 3 months prior to your child’s IEP meeting. You will want to get copies of the previous IEP and all current evaluations from the school and any independent services that your child receives.
Request a formal evaluation Have your child receive a formal educational evaluation each year. A formal evaluation is most important for children that may need to be transitioned to a more or less restrictive setting, who have made significant progress, or who have not made much progress since the last evaluation. If you have concerns about the evaluation completed by the school district, you can request an outside evaluation. The outside evaluation can be paid for by the school district. A board certified behavior analyst can evaluate your child’s strengths, skill deficits, and any problem behavior and can develop specific learning objectives and recommend teaching strategies tailored for your child.
Get other professionals involved Outside service providers such as behavior analysts, speech therapists, occupational therapists and counselors can provide valuable information on your child’s strengths and areas that need improvement. Invite all professionals involved with your child to attend the IEP meeting in person or by phone. If this is not possible, request that the professional provide an updated assessment and recommendations that you can take to the meeting.
It is also helpful to solicit the help of an IEP advocate that can explain the process and your rights to you. They can also attend the IEP meeting to help advocate for your child. The school district can help you locate an advocate or you can locate one online. e.g. http://www.theiepadvocate.com/
- Verify that all important school members will be at the meeting
- Special education teacher
- Your child's current classroom teacher
- Other general education teachers
- School psychologist and any other specialists
- School administrator
- Behavior Specialist
- Occupational Therapist
- Speech Therapist
Ask for a copy of the draft IEP prior to the meeting Schools will often prepare a draft copy of the IEP prior to the IEP meeting. Ask for a copy so that you will be prepared to ask the right questions.
Ensure that everything is documented in the plan Everything that is discussed during the IEP meeting should be included in the IEP. Often services are offered during the meeting, but there is hesitation to document that they will be provided. If a service is promised, it should be and can be documented in the IEP.
Know your procedural safeguards Did you know that you can request an IEP review, a facilitated IEP meeting, or formal mediation if your child’s needs are not being met in the IEP? (Dispute Overview)
The IEP team has the task of developing child specific goals and determining the accommodations and modifications that will be needed in order to help your child reach their goals. Early preparation and a good knowledge of your child’s rights are a great start to ensuring that the team will excel at this task.
For more information on how the certified behavior analysts at Behavioral Consulting of Tampa Bay can help you and your child during the IEP process, follow the link below.
Or you may contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.