If your child has an individualized education program (IEP), you should absolutely expect to have a meeting at least once a year to discuss the document and the changes that might need to be made as your child gets older. If you’ve never been to one of those meetings, though, you might be concerned about what to expect. Fortunately, the vast majority of IEP meetings follow a fairly similar pattern. Once you know what’s going to happen, you can better plan for your part of the meeting.
Meeting the Staff
The first step in the IEP meeting is always meeting the professionals who are going to have input. In some schools, this will include some or all of your child’s teachers, your child’s counselor, any health professionals with whom the child works, and generally at least one representative from the school’s administration. During this portion of the meeting, you’ll also be informed of your legal rights in the meeting, and you’ll generally be presented with a fair bit of paperwork.
The next step usually involves looking back at how your student’s needs have changed during the preceding year. This is where input from your child’s teachers will be invaluable, as will be your own. Make sure to talk about what you perceive your student’s progress to be during this portion and let your child speak if he or she is in attendance. This step is usually used to judge the efficacy of last year’s IEP.
Looking at Strategies
The third step usually involves figuring out the steps that need to be taken to help your student succeed in his or her least restrictive environment. If your child has made a great deal of progress, it’s likely that there will be a push to discontinue some of the services or modifications. If he or she is still struggling, you’ll need to discuss continuing services and modifications or making new changes.
Finalizing the Document
The final step is coming to an agreement on the final document. Anything that goes into the IEP is binding, so make sure to fight to get everything included. Don’t take the school’s word that they’ll continue a modification or accommodation unless it is formally added to the IEP. It can take time for the document to be finalized, but make sure that you do not sign off on it unless it includes everything your child needs.