Understanding IEPs & How They Work

“We would like you to come to the school for an IEP meeting,” can be the scariest words a parent can hear from a child’s school. It means one or more of the parents must meet with a district representative, a special education teacher, a school psychologist, a regular education teacher, and anyone else the district may call in to go over the Individual Education Plan the school has developed for that particular student. This is done after a child has been tested by the school to determine if the child needs to be placed into the Special Education Program or when the IEP is being reviewed for someone already in the program. The IEP meeting can be very scary and make one feel intimidated because you have to face so many professionals all at the same time.

A student who has a three year difference in their learning, for example, my daughter as a freshman in high school was at grade 11 in math, grade 10 in schience, but grade 6 in reading because of her dyslexia and problems with her lazy eye making her reading speed so much slower. Since there was more than a three year span in her core subjects, she was able to get help and/or accomodatins through the Special Education Program. This might be what you as a parent may be looking at.

There are a couple of things a person should do when they go to an IEP meeting. The first thing a person should do is have a friend, relative, or advocate with them to listen to what is being said during the meeting. Often when we are presented with the information about our chldren, our brain may shut down making it so we don’t hear everything being said. That friend or relative can listen and take notes. They can also help with asking questions. When you return home, you can go over the notes to make sure you agree with and understand everything brought up during the meeting. If it’s not possible to take a friend, take a tape recorder. The district may not like it, but you are entitled to record the information to insure you hear and understand everything the school personnel are presenting. You also want to know who is representing the district at the meeting, so be sure to ask which person is preresenting the district. Someone should always be there on the districts behalf. You have the right to ask for a delay in the meeting until a district representative can be present.

You will be presented with a number of forms to review and sign at the meeting. These forms have various goals and accomplishments your son or daughter needs to meet. These goals must be measurable. Read the papers carefully to make sure all the goals are measurable. In other words, they should show the progress that will be made, what time frame it will be made in, and how it will be measured. Be sure to ask questions if you have any. If you want to take time to review the documents before signing, tell them this is what you would like to do. You have that right. Let them know when you’ll bring the documents back, and be sure to have them there at that time. Again, it is a good idea to have someone with you to witness that you have returned them and signed them.

For further suggestions or Discussion, about IEP’s  please visit http://www.dyslexicinamerica.info/