By Kristin Stanberry
At the end of an IEP meeting, you may be asked to sign a draft of the IEP. If you disagree with any part of the IEP, you don’t have to sign right away. Try these tips to make your case.
A busy IEP team leader might skip over some sections of the draft IEP. It’s important to look at every section to ensure that the information is correct. Even your contact information (mailing address, email address and phone numbers) needs to be confirmed.
What to say: “Can we quickly review the sections you skipped? Since we only meet once a year, I want to make sure you have our most current information.”
It’s your right to take it home to review it. The same is true if the school mails you a copy of the proposed IEP soon after the meeting. Ask how many days you have to sign the IEP.
What to say: “I need time to review and discuss the IEP with my spouse. I owe it to my child to make sure I understand it and that it meets my child’s needs. What’s my deadline to sign it?”
You have the right to request an IEP team meeting at any time. If you have a good relationship with the IEP team, you can probably work things out.
What to say: “There are some points we still need to discuss. Since we don’t have time to do so today, I’d like us to meet again to resolve those issues before I sign the IEP. Can we schedule a meeting before we leave today?”
If you aren’t fully satisfied with the proposed IEP, explain which items you agree with and which items you dispute. Explain your disagreement in writing and ask for your objections to be included in the IEP. If you’re asked to sign in several places, ask what each is for.
What to say: “This IEP is off to a good start. Please implement everything except the parts I disagree with. I’d like the comments I wrote on the draft to become part of the IEP.”
Politely ask for proof. For example, if an IEP team member says school district policy won’t cover some services your child needs, don’t be afraid to question them.
What to say: “Those services are important for my child. I’d like to see the section of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act that supports your policy. If you don’t have it here, please send it to me at home. I can’t sign the IEP until we resolve this.”
Being a member of the IEP team requires confidence, collaboration and a commitment to your child. Here are five important ways to advocate for your child during an IEP meeting.
Are you uncertain about the IEP process and IEP meetings? These tips can help you get familiar with IEPs and build your confidence.
Kristin Stanberry is a writer and editor specializing in parenting, education and consumer health/wellness.
Whitney Hollins is a special education teacher and adjunct instructor at Hunter College.
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