Difficult IEP meetings occur when there are misaligned expectations, misunderstandings, or more often poor communication. Poor communication can be the result of many things including lack of education for the IEP process or poor understanding of the paperwork and proceedings.
Most recently, I had a call from a parent who was concerned because his child hasn’t been making progress. When I had asked how progress was being measured, he couldn’t tell me. He only knew that if his child didn’t have one on one assistance, the child would not work. He also stated that he wanted his child to have an Ipad as part of his assistive technology.
Unfortunately, if this parent had entered the IEP meeting with his intentions of getting a one on one and an Ipad just because… the IEP team would have not understood his intention and the consequence would have led to misunderstanding, drama and pain for the parent and team.
My advice is to not only identify what you think your child/student might need to be successful but to also base those needs in data. My collaborator, Tarane, always says, “Without data, all you have is an opinion.” An opinion is not going to get you too far with your IEP team.
After working with this parent for several hours we were able to put together a solid plan of action to take to the IEP team. I was able to explain to him how the IEP goals were written and measured. We also talked about how he could support the goals at home.
The most important part of our plan would be open, honest communication. In order to ensure that the IEP team members understood his concern, we drafted a letter to be added to the IEP that listed the parents concerns. This is always a good practice. Parents have the right to have their concerns heard and addressed. By writing concerns down they are more readily understood by all members of the team. In addition, requesting that your concerns are added to the IEP provides legal documentation of your concerns.
In addition, we discussed why the parent felt that his child needed one on one assistance. We documented how the child worked with and without assistance and outlined that for the team and we requested an evaluation plan be written for a SCIA (Special Circumstance Instructional Assistance). In addition, we requested an assistive technology assessment for an Ipad/tablet or other computing device. The parent shared that the family owned an Ipad and his child knew how to use it and benefitted from using it as a communication tool.
If you have questions or concerns regarding your child’s IEP it is always a benefit to talk it out with a non-biased party. Please feel free to send in any of your questions or concerns.
Special Education Teacher with over thirty-years of experience…