IEP meetings can be extremely stressful and overwhelming. However, preparation typically leads to agreement. It is important to keep the school and parent relationship a positive one: one that is focused on the student.
The four most common mistakes that parents make
- Failing to make a long term plan that can be applicable in the future;
- Not fully understanding their child’s disability and relying (and allowing) the school to make decisions about their child’s special education;
- Forgetting to keep emotions under control; and
- Not documenting events and concerns in writing.
“If it was not written down it was not said. If it was not written down, it did not happen”. ~ Pete Wright
Try this: Implement these suggestions when preparing for your next IEP meeting to see if the meeting is more productive.
1. Make a list of items that you would like addressed and know what you want.
Before the meeting, write down what you would like to see addressed during the IEP meeting. If you are making a request, do this in writing before the meeting. If you make a verbal request,followitup with an email or letter. If you have concerns that are going to be addressed at the meeting,try processing through possible solutions. Remember you are a part of the team as well.
You should be able to answer three questions before the IEP meeting:
- What do you want?
- What action do you want the IEP team to take?
- What facts support your request?
If the team is not receptive to your solutions, document this with a polite follow up letter.
2. Do not blame
When explaining problems or concerns to the IEP team, explain the problem/concern with facts. Sticking to the facts helpstokeep a productive working relationship. The team,in turn,will be more likely to help develop creative solutions to the problems or concerns.
3. Protect your relationship with the school
When in negotiations during theIEP meeting you have two goals:
- To solve problems
- To protect the parent-school relationship
When the IEP team develops goals, services, etc. together,it is much more likely that the team will be dedicated to the success of their solutions.
4. Understand the school’s perspective
To negotiate successfully, you have to be able to step into the district employees shoes.
- How do the team members from the school view the problem?
- What are their interests? What do they want?
- What is making them apprehensive to give you what you want?
When you implement these strategies, it will be easier to develop an IEP that meets your child’s needs. Be prepared. Have a plan. Try to keep your emotions under control. You are your child’s best advocate. If these strategies are still not working, it may be time to contact a Special Education Advocate that understands the rules and regulations. Keep fighting the good fight!