April 28, 2018
Education & Schools
My son is only 4 right now, but we’ve had at least 3 conversations with the school. I was up all night before every one of them, gearing up for arguments, and preparing myself for tough conversations. Fortunately, only 1 of the conversations got contentious—and ultimately, we got our way.
There are some strategies associated with having a good Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting. Here are a few:
- Be organized. Prior to the meeting, collect and clarify your thoughts. Write them down. What are you looking for? What additional services or devices are needed for your child? What amendments to the plan are you specifically going to be asking for? Organize all supporting documents well ahead of time. Create a checklist of topics to cover so you feel confident that all your questions, concerns, and needs are going to be heard and addressed.
- Talk to your child’s teachers ahead of time. Often, your best advocates in these meetings will be your children’s teachers or therapists. Talk to them ahead of time about your goals to find out if they are realistic and supportable. The teacher will typically do a good job of steering you in the right direction with language to use to best accomplish your goals.
- Familiarize yourself with disability laws. This one can be daunting. But the truth is you have the law on your side. Websites like www.wrightslaw.com and www.specialedlaw.us provide great overviews of major cases that govern what a school district is required to do for you. The more information you have, the better off you’ll be.
- Ask for help. If you are unsure how to phrase your requests, ask around. There are multiple Facebook pages of parents of children with disabilities. Sometimes a quick post will yield several results with specific language parents used to get their point across. Additionally, there is a federally funded nonprofit organization, Partners Resource Network, specifically designed to support parents as they navigate through the complex landscape of education law.
- If you’re not satisfied, ask for another meeting. If the conversation didn’t go the way you wanted, you have options. Whether it’s adding a handwritten addendum to the IEP, asking for an additional meeting to address your concerns, or even something as far as mediation, you have options! Do not get discouraged. Act quickly and make sure you are looking for every opportunity to exercise your right to get your child the educational experience you want.
You will find extensive information in the Education and School section of this site.