How Parents of Disabled Children Can Maximize IEP Meetings

Vol. 14 No. 4

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Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings are the most important conversations parents can have with faculty and staff. These mandatory meetings for families with disabled children outline their child’s educational future in regard to how your curriculum impacts their growth.

Since these meetings are critical to defining the student's experiences and cultivating relationships, it is vital that your IEP meetings are well organized with clear objectives. It’s also important that your families understand the intent of IEP meetings and what questions are key to their children’s success. After all, these meetings are team-building experiences.

Key questions parents should ask

Parents new to your school might not know what to expect from IEP meetings—especially if they are also new to managing a learning disability. However, established families, although aware of what these conversations entail, might not know how to address specific concerns or observations with their child.

Communicate expectations and share guideline questions with families. This helps streamline meetings and maximize efforts.

Consider sharing these guideline questions with your families.

  • What is the goal of this IEP meeting?
  • What is a typical school day for my child?
  • Who is part of my child’s IEP Team and how does their role impact the student experience?
  • What is my role in the IEP plan? How can I support my child’s IEP at home?
  • How do I contact members of the IEP Team?
  • How is my child different from classmates?
  • How is my child’s progress tracked and how are adjustments in the plan made?
  • What accommodations are available?

Communicating Parent Expectations and Receiving Requests

Make parents well aware of the expected level of engagement your school expects with their child and the IEP. This is something that should be expressed during initial IEP meetings and then confirmed throughout the year.

Expectations differ according to school mission and culture. However, best practices for communicating expectations and receiving requests can be developed by schools of all shapes, sizes, and missions.

  • All requests by parents for a change in the IEP, meetings, assessments, etc., must be made in writing and addressed to the IEP committee. The IEP Committee should have a clear and documented process for handling such requests, and at this time the written proposal should be handled in accordance.
  • Parents should be encouraged to request assessments instead of services unless requests are made with supporting documentation from a professional (i.e., a doctor, therapist, social worker) stating that such services would be in the best interest of the child.
  • Meetings that cover assessment results for the first time should have been reviewed by both the IEP Team and the family. Distribute results before meetings, with enough time for reflection. This allows meetings to move smoother and more time for questions that may arise from results.
  • Meetings should always discuss goals, objectives, and the overarching plan for achievement. Parents are expected to approach meetings with open minds, but also with a desired plan of action.

Parents engaged with their child’s education and the IEP Team can make a huge difference in their child’s educational experience. Some parents can be overwhelmed by the special education process. However, with proper encouragement and team support, your special needs students can succeed.

Additional ISM resources of interest
Best Practices in Utilizing Special Education Assistants

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