There are laws in place in California and throughout the country to protect students and provide support to those with special needs, such as the right to an Individualized Education Program (IEP). The typical parent may feel unsure as to how to advocate on a child’s behalf when attending an IEP meeting. Learning more about how to prepare for an IEP meeting can help parents protect their children’s best interests.
Before attending an IEP meeting, parents or guardians have typically communicated with numerous school officials regarding their child’s education. It is best if all communications are documented. Such records, in addition to other documents, such as report cards, progress reports, notes from teachers and written examples of a student’s work will help a parent present a child’s case in an organized and detailed manner.
Make assessment requests in writing for children with special needs
Prior to an IEP meeting, a parent may request an assessment for his or her child regarding a suspected disability. This request should be made in writing and submitted to the district school board. It is best if the results of the assessment are made available to the parentbefore the IEP meeting takes place. A parent should be prepared to discuss the assessment, as well as a child’s progress (or lack thereof) up to that point and any special goals the parent has in mind to help the child achieve his or her full academic potential.
Request a recording of the IEP meeting
California parents may request a recording of their child’s IEP meeting. A parent can use a cell phone to record the session if desired. Education laws require a 24-hour prior notice to the school district if a parent plans to record a meeting. When heading to an IEP meeting, it is helpful to enlist support from an attorney whose practice focuses on education laws and support for students with special needs.