Requests Prior to IEP Meetings: Eval Reports and Draft IEPs
Request Eval Reports and Draft IEPs
As you are getting ready for your upcoming eligibility or IEP meeting, have you requested a copy of the evaluation reports or a draft of the proposed IEP? Did you even know that parents can request these documents?
When Torrie transitioned from Early Intervention to the district, I didn’t even know that we could request them!!! I will say that once I learned parents can request them, I made sure to do just that! If the request was at a meeting, I asked that the request be included in the conference notes. (Does the school remember this? Probably not. But you have made the request and it is in writing!). You will probably have to do an email closer to the meeting date to remind the school to email the documents to you.
Why should parents request the eval reports or the draft IEP? So that you, as parents, will be able to see what the school has found/is proposing …. you have read it …. have digested it …. have gone through and highlighted your questions/concerns … and then you will be able to attend as a “professional parent.”
I’ve attended several IEP meetings without the benefit of having the reports or the draft IEP. I can say it is much more difficult as a parent! At your meeting, parents have “tunnel vision.” I know I focused so hard on trying to understand what the school is saying, that I didn’t “hear” them! I can’t ask questions because of that tunnel vision. I am sure we have all been there, unfortunately.
With the eval reports or draft IEP, parents can read through the documents before the meeting, and that is peace of mind. If you are reading the eval reports, you have to decide if you agree with the eval or not. If you agree, then you highlight the questions you will ask at the meeting. If you don’t agree, then you can request an Independent Educational Eval/
IEE (in your Procedural Safeguards), that the district pays for that IEE, and for the criteria so you can choose your own evaluator who is not employed by the district.
IEP drafts will provide parents with crucial information. You will be able to review your child’s present levels to see where he/she is and his/her strengths and weaknesses in school. The goals should be written toward the weaknesses. Parents should compare the proposed IEP and the current IEP to see progression. Your progress reports (provided usually every 9 weeks for the IEP goals) should also support your child’s present levels and their progression/regression toward each goal. If the goal is “repeated,” then your child has not mastered the goal; he/she might have even regressed. The school should be able to provide the “data” for each current goal so ask specifics for each goal (What percentage of Goal #1 did my child achieve?); that can assist parents in agreeing with the goal, tweaking it, or deleting it. If it is not sitting well in your gut, speak up! Ask questions … Voice your concerns!
Parents should also be included in the decisions on ESY (Extended School Year), placement, and daily/testing accommodations. If it is too early in the year (before Christmas in my mind), ask about ESY and the Team may need to meet closer to the signup dates for ESY. Unfortunately, I have seen IEPs that indicate that the child will not participate in ESY and the parent had no idea “when” that discussion/ decision took place. I’ve also seen IEPs that indicate the accommodations the school is suggesting but the full list of accommodations is not discussed with parents! See, even more reasons to get your draft of the proposed IEP.
I suggest that once parents have read through the documents, then you go through and highlight in various colors (strength/positive; weakness/negative; and other concerns) so that you can discuss/reexamine these items at the meeting. Don’t go into your IEP meeting blindly! Prepare! You are your child’s voice! Advocate!
Doreen Franklin is a Special Ed Advocate and parent of 2 adopted daughters with diverse special needs. She assists parents with their understanding of legal policy, procedures, rights, & responsibilities under IDEA so parents can learn to collaboratively advocate for their child. She has been an Advocate & Coach since 2005. Doreen is also a private tutor and homeschooled her older daughter.
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This post originally appeared on our January/February 2020 Magazine