The Individualized Education Plan, or IEP, meeting is used to help build a strategy to ensure a child with special needs receives the education he or she deserves. Unfortunately, the meeting does not always net the results that parents want. If you have an IEP meeting scheduled, here are some tips for preparing so that you can ensure your child's rights and needs are respected.
Focus on Your Child's Needs
It is not uncommon for IEP meetings to focus on the resources that the school district has instead of the needs of the child. During the meeting, you need to ensure that your child's needs are the focus. To do so, write a list of your child's educational needs.
Consult with your child's teachers, medical care providers, and anyone else who is involved in his or her care. You want to ensure that your list is comprehensive. During the meeting, you can refer to your list as a guide on what the district needs to address when it comes to providing an education for your child.
Get an Independent Evaluation
Prior to the IEP meeting, it is likely that your child will be evaluated by several professionals who work for the district. Although they are professionals, you should never rely solely on their assessments of your child's learning abilities and needs.
You have the right to have your child independently evaluated by other professionals. For instance, you can have a speech therapist and physical therapist evaluate your child and create reports regarding his or her capabilities and needs.
If you do not agree with the assessments provided by the school district, you can share the evaluations that you received from your own professionals.
Be Prepared to Negotiate
Ideally, your child's IEP meeting will net the results that you wanted. However, it is possible that the recommendations offered by the district are not what you expected. If that is the case and you are unhappy with the recommendations, you can negotiate with the district.
For instance, if the school does not believe your child would benefit from oral examinations, but you do, you might be able to negotiate so that you child can have oral exams during certain subjects.
In the event that you and the school district are still unable to reach an agreement during the meeting, you can request mediation. Mediation helps you and the district avoid court and also gives both parties a chance to discuss the situation in an informal setting. Research local mediation resources before the meeting so that you can be prepared to discuss with the district officials.
Consider consulting with a family law attorney--like one from Rute Law--before and after the IEP meeting to further explore your child's rights. If your case does end up in mediation, the attorney can provide you with guidance and even assist with determining what is a fair compromise.