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Are your concerns noted in your child’s IEP?
They should be because….
parental concerns are the centerpiece of your child’s IEP. Unfortunately, many parents either do not bring a prewritten statement to be included in the IEP or do not include any questions, concerns, or necessary information when asked about their input during the IEP meeting.
Making sure you know your rights and participating in your child’s IEP meeting are crucial to the success of the IEP.
What are your rights related to parent participation?
According to IDEA, parental rights for participation state:
- Parents have the right to participate in meetings related to the evaluation, identification, and educational placement of their child.
- Parents have the right to participate in meetings related to the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to their child.
- Parents are entitled to be members of any group that decides whether their child is a “child with a disability” and meets eligibility criteria for special education and related services.
- Parents are entitled to be members of the team that develops, reviews, and revises the individualized education program (IEP) for their child. If neither parent can attend the IEP meeting, the school must use other methods to ensure their participation, including individual or conference calls.
- Parents are entitled to be members of any group that makes placement decisions for their child. If neither parent can attend the meeting where placement is decided, the school must use other methods to ensure their participation, including individual or conference calls, or video conferencing.
In other words,
You should be notified of the IEP meeting in a timely manner, so that you can attend
your concerns and any disagreements with the IEP should be noted.
But keep in mind that you are not required to participate in IEP meetings. Ultimately, it is your choice. However, attending your child’s IEP and documenting your concerns will help you to be a successful advocate for your child.
What type of concerns may I have?
Many parents rely on the school district for every part of the IEP. But remember, you are your child’s best advocate (which means you know your child the best) and you have a voice to be heard. When expressing your concerns, this is not the time to nitpick about little things or to discuss your child’s teacher’s personality traits. This will reduce the effectiveness of your concerns. However, this is the time to express your concerns about how your child is making progress. For example, your child may have an Autism eligibility and the school district places them in an autism classroom with students with severe behavioral issues. You may state that you have concerns about this placement because your child does not display any severe behavioral issues. A month later and now your child’s behavior has changed. They are displaying new inappropriate behaviors in and out of the classroom. You would now call an IEP meeting and remind the the IEP team of your concerns, which will hopefully yield a better placement for your child.
Where will my concerns be noted?
Every school district’s IEP outline has a section for parental concerns and meeting notes. Some school districts may have one of these sections and others may have both of these sections. Some school districts will ask you specifically if you have any concerns periodically throughout the IEP meeting. Others will not. When you do state your concerns, they should be noted in the parental concerns or meeting notes sections of the IEP. If there is anything specific you want to note, I always encourage parents to ask the team member taking notes, that your concerns are noted verbatim. If your concerns are not, things can get lost in paraphrased statements.
What if I do not agree with some statements in the IEP?
If you do not agree with something that was stated during the meeting, placement decisions, or services being offered, make sure this is noted in the IEP. This is when your parental concerns statement becomes even more important. You want your concerns documented because if you previously stated concerns about your child’s progress or placement and they continue to show no progress or display new behaviors with their placement change, you now have documentation that you were not in agreement with the decision in the first place. This is now the time to call an IEP meeting to discuss your concerns and amend your child’s IEP. A lot of the time, the school district will make the necessary changes. However, if they do not, you have the documentation to file for due process.
What if the IEP team does not add my parental concerns verbatim as requested?
Remember, it is your right as a parent to have your concerns noted in the IEP. If they are not, you can file a complaint with your State’s Department of Education. In addition, you can also reject the IEP and provide a written statement about why you are rejecting the IEP. However, most of the time, the school district will add your parental concerns verbatim.
Things to Remember:
- Always attend your child’s IEP.
- Make sure your parental concerns are noted in the parental concerns or IEP meeting notes section of the IEP.
- If you disagree or want something specific noted in your child’s IEP, ask the team member taking notes that you want your statement verbatim.
- If you already have parental concerns before the IEP, bring a prewritten statement with you to the meeting. This statement will be included in the parental concerns or IEP meeting notes section of the IEP. It is helpful to have this statement electronically so that it can be cut and paste into the IEP.
- If you wind up comprising and agreeing with the school district, your concerns do not go away.
- If you have filed a complaint, parental concerns is always considered and referenced when discussing decisions in a mediation/hearing.
- When making a statement about problems that you see with the IEP, always provide a solution. Do not just focus on the flaws of the IEP.
I have sat in countless IEP meetings and when parents are asked if they have any questions or concerns they have said no. Please do not let this be you. Most likely you will have at least one question and comment about your child’s progress. Make sure that it is noted! And most importantly, if you are in disagreement with ANY part of the IEP, make sure it is written in the IEP VERBATIM!
Have your parental concerns been noted?