Recently I was called to advocate for a former student and her family. She had an IEP that was agreed upon, however, the terms were not being honored. This was not the first time I’ve encountered this, unfortunately. In my journey in Special Education, I have seen multiple reasons a child’s IEP can be out of compliance. One could be the administration stating that they cannot accommodate your child with a 1:1 aide. One could be that the student to teacher ratio has increased and the teachers aren’t receiving additional help. Another could be your child’s needs have changed and the IEP needs to reflect that. So what can you do to help keeps your child protected, keep their IEP current, and keep the relationship between yourself and your child’s IEP team flowing in a positive direction? Here are a few suggestions I can give you to help you on your own journey into the IEP process.
- Remember that everyone on your child’s IEP team is there for you and your child. Their sole interest is to make sure your child is getting the best education possible. They got into this profession to help children, and when we are in the midst of emotions during an IEP it’s hard to remember this.
- If your child’s needs have changed then review their IEP and make sure it is still reflecting your child’s needs. If it doesn’t then it’s your right to call a meeting (it will either be an Addendum or Amendment) and to address your concerns.
- Documentation is a lifesaver! If you have documentation from IEP team members, outside service providers (such as an ABA Specialist), your child’s doctors and/or neurologist, or your own that states that the IEP needs to be changed then bring it to the meeting.
- If you do have documentation, literature about your child’s diagnosis, outside assessments, etc. then, by all means, make copies for the team and bring it. But, and I always recommend this, go a step further in being proactive and have the copies emailed or sent to these team members a least a week ahead of time. This will cut down on time spent going over it during your meeting and will open the time up to finding solutions.
- If need be, bring support. You can ask a family friend to come or have an advocate. Or both! If you choose an advocate then make sure you meet with them ahead of time so you both can discuss what the issues are and what you would like the outcome to be and how best to get there. It’s always a good idea to sustain the relationship between yourself and the IEP team, but I understand that this isn’t always what happens.
In these cases, it’s a good idea to make sure you keep your advocate up to speed and let the team know you will be recording the meeting.
The goal of all meetings is to make sure that we are able to meet the students' needs and keep the relationship with their IEP team positive. Everyone involved wants what is best for our students and knowing that we have advocated for them is the best way to do this.
I hope you have a wonderful week and Shine On! Ronette Parker, Mindful ABA