IEP Meeting Prep tips
- Make sure the IEP meeting is scheduled at a time that is convenient for you. The school team can work with your schedule, to a reasonable extent, and should not meet without you. You can also participate by phone.
- Share your concerns with the IEP team in writing in advance. This helps to guide the discussion and ensures the school team is prepared to develop goals and offer services and/or evaluations in these areas.
- Provide any relevant updates from private providers ahead of the meeting. The IEP team is required to consider all outside information, so you can feel free to share private evaluations, progress reports from private providers, or any written documentation you feel might be helpful for the team to review.
- Ask that copies of the draft IEP be provided 24-hours before the meeting. While the District cannot “predetermine” placement and services, and parents must be included in developing the IEP, requesting copies of the proposed goals and present levels of performance prior to the meeting will allow you to review the documentation thoroughly before the team discussion. This also helps you to use the meeting time as efficiently as possible. Similarly, ask that copies of assessment reports be provided at least 24-hours in advance.
- Don’t be afraid to tape record the IEP meeting. While it can seem awkward to tape record your IEP meeting, school teams are used to this practice, and it shouldn’t inhibit the discussion. Having a recording allows you to relax during the team discussion, knowing that you can always review the recording if you need to refresh your memory later. You will need to provide 24-hours notice in order to record.
- Bring support! You can bring an attorney, advocate, or anyone familiar with the student. Don’t feel like you have to go into the meeting alone. You are permitted to bring a representative to the meeting with you, and can invite anyone who is familiar with the student’s needs and abilities. Examples include a babysitter, service provider, or family member. If you are bringing an attorney, give the school team at least 24-hours notice, as they may choose to be represented, as well.
- Know who is required to attend the IEP meeting. Mandatory IEP participants include the parent, at least one general education teacher if the student is or may participate in the general education setting, a special education teacher, and a representative from the school district/educational agency (often an administrator from the school site). Also, if assessments are being reviewed, a person who is qualified to interpret the assessment results must also attend.
- Leave with a copy! Even if the team still needs to finalize the changes, request a copy of the draft with notes, or at least the notes page. The school team should always be able to make you a copy that day.
- Don’t sign the IEP at the meeting! IEP meetings can be stressful and overwhelming. You always have the right to take a copy of the IEP home with you to review, then sign once you are completely comfortable with the proposed goals and offer of services.
- Remember, you can request an IEP meeting at any time! You don’t have to wait for the annual review, or for the District to call one.
Jazmine Gelfand (specialedlegalcare.com) is a special education attorney who offers education and disability legal representation to the greater San Diego community. Jazmine has been passionate about advocating for children’s education since beginning her undergraduate studies, and she graduated with a B.S. in Early Childhood Development. After enrolling in law school, Jazmine helped create a new student organization on campus, Advocates for Children and Education, which developed several outreach programs to support children’s education rights. She first became interested in the area of special education law after interning with the San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program’s Education Project. Jazmine also participated in several on-campus clinics, including the Child Advocacy Institute’s Policy Clinic, and the Special Education Legal Clinic, where she represented the rights of low-income students with special needs.
Upon graduating with her J.D. from the University of San Diego School of Law, Jazmine was awarded the 2014 James A. D’Angelo Outstanding Child Advocate Award, as well as the pro bono service award, in recognition of her contributions to San Diego’s low-income community.
Jazmine is committed to providing aggressive legal representation for her clients, while being sensitive to the need to work collaboratively, under a solutions-oriented approach. She is admitted to practice law in all California state courts.