Before the IEP Meeting: 6 Tips for Parents

By Eve Kessler, Esq.

Experts, advocates, and other parents agree that preparing for the IEP meeting is the key to building a plan that will ensure your child’s success. Knowledge of your child, the school system, and federal and state laws and regulations will empower you to become the advocate your child deserves. So prepare, prepare, and prepare more, using these tips to guide you:

  1. Write a list of issues that you feel are important. Try to resolve any questions or concerns before the meeting so the time your with the team can be used productively to agree on a plan. Prior discussion will eliminate surprises at this meeting.
  1. Prepare your own questions and items to address. Ask for a blank copy of the IEP form showing the components and prepare questions you would like to discuss at the meeting. Bring the list with you.
  1. To be an informed participant in the process request that the school provide you with the evaluations and proposed goals, objectives, and placement recommendations prior to the meeting.
  1. Written notice of the IEP meeting will include a list of attendees. Review the list to make sure that all necessary school and outside personnel will be there. Notify the school if you intend to bring someone from outside the school (e.g., a friend, relative, advocate, or outside evaluator). It may be someone who has knowledge of your child and his needs, or someone just to take notes while you listen.
  1. If this is your first IEP meeting, talk to other parents who have been through this to learn from their experiences. You may also find it useful to attend support groups, conferences, informational meetings, and seminars.
  1. Know your child. Prepare a sample parent vision statement that describes your child. Provide a list of her strengths, challenges, preferences, learning styles, and what she needs to succeed across curricula and environments. Bring samples of her work and recent evaluations done outside of school. Consider bringing your child if appropriate.

Adapted from A Web Guide to the Special Services Partnership, published by SPED*NET Wilton (CT) and available free on line at www.spednetwilton.org/handbook/handbook.pdf.