Did you know you are allowed to bring a friend or relative to your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting? It can be very helpful.
Walking alone into a room filled with school staff and professionals can be intimidating. You might feel overwhelmed, less important or unheard. You may be afraid to speak up or ask questions. Those feelings can set the mood for the meeting.
Having a friend with you can help you feel more at ease. It can give you confidence. There’s power and strength in numbers and in companionship.
An IEP meeting requires listening and taking notes. There are handouts and reports to read. You must be ready to give your opinions and input. Bringing someone who can take notes allows you to listen more closely to what is being said.
Your companion can also help ensure your questions get asked. They can remind you of your questions and concerns.
A friend can also act as a third party—someone who can see situations more objectively or with less emotion. They can help bridge the exchange of ideas between you and the school.
Your friend is often a good sounding board before and after the IEP meeting. They can help with discussions and decisions.
If you are taking a friend, you should inform the school before the IEP meeting. A quick email or phone call to say a friend will be attending with you is a welcomed courtesy. Letting the school know ahead of time will ensure that the needed paperwork is prepared and ready.
Let the school know your friend’s name. Clarify that they are not an advocate or attorney. You will need to sign a release of confidential information at the start of the meeting. This is to protect the privacy of educational information about your child.
Have a look at Education and Schools for more information.