The end of the school year is right around the corner. This is a time of year that many student’s IEP or 504 meetings are scheduled. Before you head into your meeting, take a few minutes to plan out your meeting time so you can use your time wisely.
Outcome: Be clear with yourself what you are hoping the meeting will accomplish. Understand your child’s needs and develop a plan to see that they are met. The clearer you can be with yourself, the more likely you are to be able to communicate your objectives effectively.
Participants: Ask who will be attending the meeting. You have the right to ask for your child’s special education, homeroom or other teacher who knows your child well to participate in the meeting. At many schools the principal also attends these meetings.
Assessments: Ask , in writing, to see your child’s recent assessments ahead of the meeting — especially if the meeting is the three-year service review. If you don’t understand what the scores mean, be sure to schedule time to discuss them with the school, or if you have had your own evaluation, discuss them with your evaluator.
Agenda: While the special educator is under pressure to get your signature at the end of the meeting, you don’t have to give into that pressure. If you need more time to discuss things, don’t let a 15 minute meeting cut off valuable discussion time. Be sure to request a long enough meeting time if you know you will have concerns coming into the meeting.
Support: You have the right to bring other people to a meeting with you such as an advocate, psychologist or evaluator. But be advised, bringing a lawyer to the meeting can set up a hostile dynamic and can be counterproductive to achieving a good outcome. That being said, you still may want to consider bringing (or consulting with in advance) any outside experts (such as psychologists, speech language/PT/OT therapists, etc) to support you and give you perspective, or have them available by phone if necessary.
Follow-up: Always follow up the meeting with a detailed letter summarizing what was said and by whom. Indicate what you agree with and what you disagree with and why. Be thorough and assertive, but also diplomatic. It is important to preserve your position by creating a paper trail. You may always request additional meetings at any point in the year. Some families find that quarterly meetings are a good way to stay on top of issues before time passes.