Once your child is found eligible for special education services, all important decisions about his services and placement will be made by an IEP team. For all parents, and especially those new to the special education arena, the IEP team meeting process can be confusing and overwhelming. It is often intimidating and upsetting to sit in a meeting with strangers to discuss your child’s disability, especially when they all seem to understand the process better than you do.
To advocate effectively for your child, it is critical that you understand your child’s educational rights, as well as your rights as members of the team. We work with parents to help them prepare for team meetings and, in certain cases, we can attend IEP meetings with parents to help advocate for eligibility, services or placement.
Generally, a school district administrator will lead the meeting. Depending on the agenda, the team members may be presented with information from teachers and evaluators to help them understand the student’s present performance and educational needs. At some point in the meeting, the team members should propose services and a placement that they believe will allow the student to make effective educational progress. The parent is an equal member of the team, and has every right to participate in all discussions about the child and his special needs.
Sometimes, at the end of the meeting, the team facilitator may ask you to sign an IEP. Other times, it may be mailed to you a few days later. It is always best to wait to sign the document after you have taken the time to review it carefully and to consider whether it adequately provides the services your child needs. If you have questions about an IEP and whether you should accept it, you may wish to consult with an attorney with experience in special education.
Understanding an IEP and deciding whether it adequately provides the services your child needs can be extremely difficult. If you have questions about an IEP which has been proposed for your child, or if you need help negotiating with the team, call us. We understand the steps that are necessary to get your child the free appropriate public education he or she is legally entitled to receive.
We know the importance of your child’s education and we appreciate your confidence when you choose us to help protect your child’s rights. It will always be our goal to provide effective and efficient legal representation in a highly responsive manner to improve your child’s education.