Here at Ratcliff Law, it is Week 2 of our blog series on helping to make your IEP meeting as painless as possible. Part of reaching that goal is making sure that you understand the roles of each person who will be representing your child at the meeting and how they can help to support you in your efforts to get an appropriate education for your child.
Go to the Meeting with your Team in Place
You never have to feel that you are going to the CSE alone. You (and your partner) should have at least one supportive person at the meeting who shares your goals and outlook for your child, as well as your understanding of his or her progress and current functioning level. You do not have to go into any meeting feeling that you have to do battle with a whole room full of people in order to get an appropriate program for your child - in order to achieve this, you need allies!
The 3 Types of People On Your Team
The evaluator: There is no substitute for a full, comprehensive neuropsychological or psychological evaluation to determine your child's needs and strengths/weaknesses. The report MUST contain specific recommendations for him or her - which should inform decisions about what constitutes an appropriate program. A high-quality evaluator will be able to participate in the meeting by discussing your child's needs based on their testing data and advocating for including their recommendations in the IEP. This way, when you ask for something, you are not dismissed as a parent only wanting "what's best for their child." Instead, you can point out that the things you are asking for are based on data and test scores.
The teacher: Your child's teacher is usually the best person to discuss your child's day to day strengths and weaknesses in the classroom, as well as to discuss the progress he or she is making towards goals. If, however, you and your child's teacher do not see eye to eye, you need to make sure that you have another educational professional or clinician (usually the trusted evaluator) at the meeting to who supports your point of view.
The attorney or advocate: Under certain circumstances, you might want your attorney, or an advocate, come with you at the meeting. There are various reasons that your attorney might feel it is best not to attend your meeting - that is a decision that is made on a case-by-case basis in discussions between you and them. Either way, your attorney should speak to you before and after your meeting to assist with preparation and follow up.
...And What is Your Role?
With your team in place, you will feel much more confident to speak up and participate in the IEP meeting. You know your child better than anyone so remember to ask questions, ask for clarification, and to speak up when something does not sound right. Also, defer to others who you trust if you are unsure of something. It is OK to say you don't know. No matter what, however, just remember to keep it civil and on point. Next week I will be delving deeper into the specifics of what to say and what not to say at the meeting.
For additional questions about IEPs, IEP meetings, or any other inquiries contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 646-741-3030.