Prior to the Meeting
The assessments have been done and the needs of your child are relatively well known. You have the background information you need to proceed. You have thought about the goals your child needs. You have also familiarized yourself with SMART goals to better understand the contents of the IEP. You have familiarized yourself with the types of instructional assistance and program types that are available for your child. You have fully explored the types of support available including placement and program. If you are seeking a special placement, you have also pre-arranged to visit the placement site to be sure that this will be a good educational fit for your child. You should be informed of who will be attending the IEP meeting which will enable you to address your concerns to the right people. You may want to make a list of the atendees and keep it in your IEP binder or portfolio. You are also encouraged to bring somebody to represent you if you feel it's necessary and in the best interest of your child. This could be your spouse, close relative, or a professional or attorney working on your child's behalf. In some cases, the child will also attend the IEP meeting.
What to Bring
Be sure to have a binder or an IEP portfolio. This should contain all assessments and/or evaluations on your child. If this isn't your first IEP meeting, you should have previous IEPs. You should have work samples from your child and any letters from the teacher and/or school board. Report cards and test results from previous terms and years will also be helpful to have. If you have had negative or positive feedback in writing from the teacher, be sure it too is included. If your child is reading and or writing, samples of the level of reading and examples of writing will be helpful. Any medical reports will also be helpful. Depending on how much material you have, it would be very wise to organize the material into sections or tabs so that you can easily find everything. Making copies in the event that somebody on the IEP team asks for a copy is always helpful. There should be no surprises in your IEP binder or portfolio, your team needs to be well informed and any document they may not have should be provided to them prior to the IEP meeting.
What Does IDEA Say About IEP Meetings?
- The IEP meeting must be held at a location and a time that is convenient to all individuals attending. You are entitled to input as to the time of the meeting. The educational jurisdiction cannot simply establish the time and place without your input.
- IEP meetings MUST be held once per year.
- The IEP meeting must be long enough to address all concerns. If you feel the length of time of the scheduled meeting may not fit your needs, discuss this with the principal of your school and state your reasons why.
- If this is not the first meeting and you are in agreement with the child's IEP, you can forgo the meeting and agree to the IEP.
The Agenda for the IEP Meeting
You may or may not see an agenda ahead of the scheduled meeting. However, you can expect the following:
- Current level of progress of your child
- Specific goals for your child
- Type of support or instructional/assessment strategies and or services required
- Type of placement
- Specific program
IDEA also requires that the IEP be written together with input from you and the educational jurisdiction. However, there will most likely be a draft IEP at the meeting. Remember that this draft should be treated as a working copy for the meeting and not a final version. The meeting will provide you with the time to address, change, and revise any part of the draft IEP. In some cases, you may be sent a copy of the draft IEP ahead of the scheduled IEP meeting.
Some Final Thoughts
Remember that the IEP meeting is really an informal meeting established to support the best interest of your child. Reduce your anxiety about attending the meeting by being well prepared and having a supportive individual attend with you. You do have the right to tape record the meeting as proof of what was said. If you decide to tape the meeting, let the school know in advance and keep the tape recording as a part of your IEP binder/portfolio.
If you have everything in place as mentioned above, you should be more than ready to attend the IEP meeting.