Ways to Take Charge of Your Child's IEP Meeting or Family
By Janet Holmes; Exerpted from Learning Disabilities 101
by Mary Cathryn Haller, March 1999, Rainbow Books, Inc. ISBN:
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Be first . . .
make sure you talk first. Don't be afraid to lead the IEP
meeting. Bring notes, take notes and make all introductions
yourself. It's your school, your teachers, your child. Put your
priorities on the table for discussion first.
Build a Strong Base of Information. You know your child. Get to
know his school behavior, attend his class for a substantial
amount of time. Be sure to use the appropriate visiting
procedures but don't be afraid to make a surprise visit. During
the IEP meeting ask questions if you do not understand. You are
the expert for your child, but you are not expected to
understand all school terminology.
Know Your Rights . . . Public Law has given all parents rights
and schools legal responsibilities. How can you advocate for
important issues if you're not sure you are right? Local family
and state organizations hold workshops for parents. Find them!
Bring Notes . . . make your own goals for your child. Start with
making long-term goals for your child and family. Take your own
notes to the meeting and write long- and short-term objectives
in your words. It is appropriate to include your suggestions,
you should expect nothing less.
Know How to Say No . . . be gracefully firm. Take a firm stand
on important issues and only important ones. Be willing to
compromise and don't expect to get it all. Choose your fight
carefully, and then use the phrase "that is unacceptable." Have
your argument ready, but always speak carefully. Get areas of
disagreement written on the plan or, better yet, go home and
write a letter to attach to the IEP. Don't be rushed into
accepting anything; IEP's can be continued at a later date. The
IEP will go forward without your signature, but you need to
document your disagreement in case you wish to take the issue to
Make Friends . . . at school. Always support your school and
teacher. Be the room mother, volunteer to help whenever you can.
If you are respected as a supporter of the school, you are more
likely to be respected at the IEP. Let people know you
appreciate them, make positive comments. A few kind words can
only open doors for you and your child.
Keep Your Cool . . . angry parents are sometimes written off.
Although anger is sometimes needed to get your point across,
remember, parents who lose their temper are quickly labeled as
uncooperative and unreasonable which can make it easier for
personnel to gather others against your ideas and concerns.
Keep Records . . . put it on paper. Maintain records for your
child. Put all your correspondence in the file. Make every IEP
request in writing and ask for a written response. Check every
so often to see if your correspondences are included.
End Your IEP . . . with a good check up. At the end of the IEP,
make sure all of your points have been included. Check up on the
promises, goals, and objectives that were agreed upon at the
meeting. It is your job to monitor the IEP plan.
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