If 2020 has taught us anything as parents and educators, it is that we always need to be ready for the unexpected. Even as an advocate, I find myself encountering new experiences and conversations daily. One of my favorite resources on Special Education, Wrightslaw, featured an excellent write-up from advocate Pat Howey. The main focus was how to share and prepare for an IEP meeting.
She pointed out that you need to share as much information with the IEP team as possible. You would be upset to walk into an IEP meeting for your child and be surprised by new faces, terminology, and questions, so make sure you aren’t surprising them! Send over any relevant information a few days in advance, keeping in mind that the pandemic has made keeping up with students and families harder for all parties involved. Doing so guarantees the best results for your child.
Secondly, sharing as much as possible before the meeting frees up your mind to be focused and ready during the live meeting. I recommend bringing a notebook and writing down the three objectives of an IEP. If you feel flustered or the discussion is not productive, you can peer into your notes and see objectives easily:
- The IEP must include a plan to meet ALL of your child’s unique needs related to their disability.
- The IEP must tell you exactly what the school will do to fulfill this plan.
- The IEP must give you ways to know it is working (progress monitoring).
If you’ve shared all relevant information and focus on these objectives, it will make the IEP meeting easier, whether in person, virtual, or otherwise. At the end of the meeting, you should be able to feel confident that all three objectives are met and should be able to ‘see’ the path your child will work through in the upcoming school year.
Finally, another good thing to remember is that distance learning does NOT mean an IEP goes out the window! Whether you are a hybrid of in person and distance learning, fully virtual through fall, or will be alternating days in the classroom, your child has a right to learn according to their IEP!
If you have questions about your specific situation, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or via telephone at (610)457-2199.