The IEP Is Written… Now What Do I Do?
After the IEP meeting, you may be feeling cautiously optimistic. The IEP was updated and your child will receive more services/time for services. But because of past experiences, you are waiting for the other shoe to drop. This is very typical!
There are a few things you can do. You can review the IEP about a week after the meeting. You have given yourself a breather after the meeting. Reviewing the IEP, you will assess the IEP with fresh eyes. Read the Conference Notes that should be included at the end of the IEP to ensure all information was included and is correct. If you find discrepancies or items that were not included, you could do an email to the ESE Liaison, and another school member of the IEP Team) and ask that your concerns be added as an addendum to the Conference Notes. You could also include the verbiage “If you disagree with my request, please provide me a Notice of Refusal in writing in a timely manner as stated in the Procedural Safeguards.” (This is at the bottom right hand side of the FL Procedural Safeguards; it is also called Prior Written Notice. I have included a model form for reference ).
You should also be receiving a progress report detailing progress toward the IEP services. You will want to review these progress reports to see if your child is making progress toward each of the goals in the IEP. I suggest parents read the paragraph that should be included with each report date and highlight the percentages or adjectives. You should be able to see progress, even with adjectives. (The first reporting paragraph may say …. Jan needs to be redirected multiple times during the class. A later report may say …. Jan is being redirected a few times during the class. You can see that even though specific percentages aren’t specified, the adjectives show progress – from “multiple” to “a few”). If you are not seeing progress, you can call an IEP meeting to review the goals; they may need to be tweaked. Parents are able to call an IEP meeting, although the school may tell you that you can’t. Again, put that request, and everything, in writing!
You can also ask your child what he/she is doing in school and if they are receiving X, Y, or Z service. I would suggest asking open ended questions instead of questions that can be answered with a yes/no. (Yes, I made this mistake many times before I adjusted the questions to get real answers). If your child is non-verbal, you may want to get daily reports on how your child did in each class; this could include very specific areas you want to keep track of. This “report” should also be written into the IEP with the specifics of when the report will be sent home, signed by teacher & parent, if the report is for a time period (every hour) or report by class. If there is medical info needed, you could say that the pediatrician needs to have the information and that you will pass these reports onto the doctor. Parents could also request an observation of your child – either for a period of the day or a class. Again, put this request in writing. If you are denied, indicate that you want the Notice of Refusal that is mentioned in the first paragraph.
Parents should also review the report card for curriculum to ensure your child is not regressing (grades would drop – like from a C to an D/F). This may or may not have a root in the IEP. You could request a parent-teacher conference first to see why Zack’s grades dropped. Watching behavior at home will also be a key. For some of our kiddos, they may not know how to tell you what they are feeling, but their behavior will speak volumes to let you know something is wrong. I have suggested that parents even video tape the behavior and play that video at the IEP meeting. The school may say it is behaviors at home and that Joe is not having behavioral problems at school. Ask for an observation, but don’t tell your child that you are going to be observing. That way, you will know firsthand if Joe’s behavior is affected at school. If behaviors are increasing at school, you could request that the school perform a Functional Behavior Assessment; a Behavior Intervention Plan may be created by the IEP Team (and that includes parents) to tweak/ replace unhealthy behaviors.
Depending on your child’s age, you can teach him/ her to self-advocate, which is the goal for our kiddos. For our younger ones, encourage them to raise their hand if they have questions. If your child is older, review the IEP with them and discuss what that means to them in an appropriate level for your child. Middle and high schoolers could be taught to question the teacher with respect. (Ms White, I think I am supposed to have more time for this test; it is written in my IEP. Can you please tell me how much time I will have)?
These may seem like “little” things, but you are your child’s advocate. You want to keep an eye on what is happening with your child at school and at home. Talk to other parents and if you need further help, talk to an advocate who can provide assistance to you and also teach you so that you can feel empowered at the next IEP meeting. And remember, your child will learn to advocate for himself/herself by watching you!
Doreen Franklin is a Special Education Consultant & Private Tutor. She assists families with children with special needs with their IEPs. Doreen & her husband adopted two daughters; both are special needs. Doreen homeschooled their older daughter and tutors children privately.
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More IEP Help
- How can parents prepare for an IEP Meeting? (Part 1)
- Three Tips for Highlighting and Color-Coding Your Child’s Draft IEP
- Whether it’s Your First IEP or You’re a Pro: 10 things to Cover at the Meeting
- Know Your Rights in the IEP Process: What Do those Procedural Safeguards Really Mean?
- The Politics of Special Education: The Information You Need Right Now
- How to Set Clear Goals and Plan Naturally
- Is the IEP Individualized or Cookie-Cutter?
- Rock Your Next IEP: Tips for a Successful IEP Meeting
- Big Picture of Parent Participation in an IEP Meeting
- Beyond the IEP Team: 6 Tips for Parent Participation at School
- Should My Child Attend the IEP Meeting?
- IEP Meeting Overwhelm? How to Avoid It!
- Calm Your Nerves – Know What To Expect At An IEP Meeting
- The Importance of S.M.A.R.T IEP Goals
- IEP Prep: Using the Mama Bear Strategy
This post originally appeared on our November/December 2016 Magazine