IEP meetings are a necessity in the special education process. Because of this, IEP meetings can cause many parents anxiety, worry and fear. A lot of times, it is the fear of the unknown, but you do not have to let these negative emotions get the best of you. If this is you, the most important thing to do is prepare ahead of time and get all of your questions answered. Here are a list of the most frequently asked questions to point into the right direction.
What is an IEP?
An IEP is a document that describes the services the school agrees to give your child to help them meet their educational needs. IEPs outline your child’s learning needs, the services the school will provide and how progress will be measured.
Who attends an IEP meeting?
There are several members who attend the IEP meeting which makes up the IEP team:
- You as the parent
- Your child if over the age of 14
- At least one general education teacher
- Special education teacher or case manager
- School administrator (not required)
- School specialists such as occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech and language pathologists
- School psychologist (most likely during initial evaluations and eligibility meetings)
These are the members that develop the IEP team.
What’s in an IEP?
Present Levels of Performance (PLOP)
PLOP focuses on your child’s strengths and weaknesses, social and behavior qualities, recent evaluations and progress reports, how the disability affects their learning and anything else that is relevant to how they are progressing in the classroom.
Goals and Objectives
Goals and objectives are proposed to help them progress towards the general education curriculum.
A transition plan is also used to identify and develop goals to assist them in meeting their post-high school goals.
Accommodations and/or Modifications
Accommodations and/or modifications are utilized to help your child in the classroom and with standardized testing such as sitting in close proximity to the teacher or having a test modified to bring it in line to what the child is learning.
Supplementary Aides and Services
Supplementary aids and services are aids, services, and other supports that are provided in regular education classes, other education- related settings, and in extracurricular and nonacademic settings, to help your child to be educated with non-disabled children to the maximum extent appropriate.
In this section, any concerns that you may have will be noted.
Your child’s progress report will display how they are progressing towards their goals and objectives.
Extended School Year are individualized special education services for students with disabilities that are determined by the IEP team. These services extend beyond the school year, with summer services being the most popular.
Participation in State and District-Wide Assessments
Here you will discuss what accommodations and/or modifications, if any, are need for your child to be successful in these assessments.
Placement is where your child will be receiving special education services. Services can take place in the general education classroom (with or with supports), the special education classroom, a special education school, at home, or in a hospital or other public or private institution.
Do I have to attend every IEP meeting?
No. You are not legally required to attend your child’s IEP meeting. However, it is in the best interest of your child that you attend every meeting.
Do I have to let an IEP team member be excused?
No. When a required member of an IEP team is asked to be excused, you have to give your consent. If you do not agree with the excusal, write a letter stating why you refuse and have the meeting rescheduled.
Is the IEP a legal document?
An IEP is a legal document between you and the school that outlines how to best help your child to learn in the way that is best for them.
Do I have to sign an IEP for consent?
This depends on the school district, so make sure you understand before your sign anything. Some school districts require you to sign the IEP at the beginning of the IEP meeting indicating your attendance at the meeting, while others require you to sign the IEP at the end of the meeting indicating you consent to everything stated in the IEP.
What does the effective date on the IEP mean?
The effective date of an IEP is when the set goals and objectives, services, placement and accommodations/modifications begin. IEPs are updated at least annually.
How long are IEP meetings?
There is no set time for the length of IEP meetings. Some IEP meetings can be an hour, some can be a few hours. It all depends on what is being discussed by the IEP team. Typically, initial IEP meetings are longer than annual IEP meetings.
Can I record an IEP meeting?
Federal law does not prohibit a parent from recording IEP meetings. However, the state department of education and/or school district can prohibit or limit the use of recording devices at IEP meetings. It is important to check with your state on their regulations regarding recording IEP meetings.
Can I bring along someone to the IEP meeting?
Yes and if this is your first time, you definitely should. You have the right to bring your spouse, friend, advocate, attorney or anyone else who can support you. You want to bring someone who can provide support, encouragement and reassurance.
When do services begin?
Services begin on the effective or ‘start’ date listed on the IEP, unless otherwise noted in the IEP.
Do I get a copy of the IEP?
Yes, you should get a copy of your child’s IEP right away. Some school districts will send home a copy after all the changes have been made. However, you should not leave an IEP without a copy of your child’s IEP (even if it is not ‘final’ version). You can always request the ‘final’ version once they make any necessary changes. If you do not receive a copy of the IEP, immediately request one from your child’s case manager.
Are related services part of the IEP?
Yes. Related services are services that are provided by a speech/language pathologist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, orientation and mobility specialist, etc. Many students may benefit from these services, however, these services are only provided to students who meet the criteria for eligibility.
Can I postpone the meeting?
Yes, you can postpone the IEP meeting, but you do not want to wait too long. IEPs need to be reviewed at lease annually and school districts are held to a timeline. If you have any concerns about the upcoming IEP meeting, you can always discuss them before the meeting with your child’s case manager.
What if I do not agree with the IEP?
You have the right to disagree or refuse any services in the IEP. You can disagree with some or part of the IEP and you have the option to take the IEP home before you consent to it. If you do disagree, write a letter about what and why you disagree with some or parts of the IEP. This information will be added to the minutes section of the IEP and only the parts that you agree with will be implemented. If you are not able to come to an agreement with the IEP team, then you can dispute the IEP. If you are in dispute with the school district, there are several steps you can take. Read Dispute Resolution Options: Mediation vs. Due Process Hearing.
Are services listed in the IEP provided by my child’s special education teacher?
It depends on the service. When a service is listed it will generally list where the service is taking place, such as resource room or in-class resource. This largely depends on how your school district lists the services in your child’s IEP. Services are not always provided by the special education teacher. Some services may be provided by a special education paraprofessional or a related service provider (speech, OT, PT, etc.). If you have any questions about this, it is best to ask during the IEP meeting.
Where will my child be placed?
Placement is a decision made by the IEP team and is discussed at every annual IEP meeting. It is based upon your child’s present level of performance, goals and objectives and supports needed for your child. Your child may receive services in a general education with supports, co-teaching classroom, resource classroom, self-contained classroom, home or hospital setting.
What happens after an IEP meeting?
After an IEP has been developed and you consent to parts or all of it, the IEP will be implemented and your child will start receiving special education services.
Can I make changes to my child’s IEP?
Yes. If you want something changed in your child’s IEP, discuss with your child’s case manager first. If it is a major change, you have the right to call an IEP meeting at any time.
IEP meetings can be overwhelming, especially if this is your time. As with anything, preparation is key.