It's time to review your child's IEP! Here are some key points to remember as you head into your child's IEP meeting.
When it comes to renewing your child's IEP each year there can be so much that goes into it that it may seem quite overwhelming. Our Family Connectors at DSAMN have created this list that can hopefully help you navigate your child's IEP that will lead you to the outcomes you are looking for.
1. Parents are a valued member of the IEP team! Your input, insights and ideas about what is best for your child are just as valuable as any teacher or therapist on the IEP team. As your child’s parent, you know them best and it is 100% your right to speak up and advocate for what you think is best for your child!
2. Decisions for changes to goals and accommodations should be based on data NOT feelings. Any changes should be proposed with documentation and data of your child’s current skill levels and needs. Statements about proposed changes to your child’s IEP should not start with “I feel….”. Teachers, therapists and parents should be prepared with data to demonstrate why these changes will be needed. Bringing In work from home or videos of skills & activities can also be included in data that is driving parent’s decisions.
3. You should not sign the IEP the first day you see it! The IEP meeting should be designed to discuss the current data and discuss goals and ideas for the new IEP. The IEP should not be written in full at this meeting and you should NOT be pressured to sign the IEP at the meeting! Input from the parent(s) is an important piece to the IEP. You should be prepared to share how your child is doing at home and if you have any current concerns to share with the team.
4. You do not need to sign the IEP if you do not agree with it! Many parents feel pressured into signing IEPs even if they don’t agree with all of the proposals. If you do not agree with the proposed IEP you can check the box “I do not consent” on the prior written notice. Sign your name and date and return to the IEP team. This will kick off Due Process and you will work with the team to try to create a plan that you both agree with.
“When I didn’t agree with the proposed IEP for my son, I told the team I needed to think about it. A couple days later I emailed my son’s case manager my concerns and reasoning. We scheduled another meeting where we all met again to discuss my concerns and came to an agreement that felt right for all of us.”
*You must communicate a decision to the team within 14 days otherwise the proposed IEP will go into effect even without your signature. Communication should ALWAYS be in writing!
** Annual IEPs are different from evaluations. An evaluation will not go into effect until the parent has signed it and sent it back to the team.
5. Parents can ask for a meeting at any time. Whether it's two weeks into a new IEP or 10 months in. IEPs are not written in stone. They are designed to be fluid documents that can be updated or changed at any time. Even if you sign the IEP and then two weeks later decide it isn’t a good fit, it is your right to ask for another IEP meeting to discuss and try to find a solution. Write an email to the team asking for another meeting and outline some of your concerns.
6. IEP season is stressful! As parents this process can be emotional and frustrating. Know that you are not alone! Here at DSAMN our family connectors can help answer questions and connect you with other local nonprofits that can help with advocating for your child. It’s your right to have an education advocate attend IEP meetings with you and to help with navigating this process. DSAMN family connectors can help connect you with these resources. Reach out to the Family Connectors today!