The end of the school year is not only a time for summer vacation planning, but for parents of children with special needs, it's often a time of meeting preparations, too. Over the summer, you'll be in contact with your child's school about setting up education plans for next year to make sure that your child's needs are met. An Individualized Education Plan, also called an IEP, is the document schools use to do just this. If you have a meeting coming up with the school to establish your child's IEP for the new year, here's what you need to know.
Look at Last Year's Documents
- Last Year's IEP: Start your preparations by looking through the paperwork from the past school year. If your child had an IEP this year, start with that. Read through all of the goals, requirements and accommodations detailed in the plan and mark off any that you think are no longer relevant due to your child's age, development or academic progression. Make a note of anything that's inaccurate so that you can be sure it's corrected this time. Finally, identify anything that you want to ensure is carried over to remain in the new plan, such as an individual aide or testing accommodations.
- Your Child's School Work: Sort through your child's school work, including tests, homework assignments and projects. Look for anything that clearly shows that the IEP accommodations aren't being met, or assignment results that reflect success with certain support measures. For example, include copies of tests that show grade differences between tests with one-on-one support as compared to tests where your child was left to do the work alone.
- Communication Notes: You've probably kept records of all of the communication with the school during the past year. Look through your notes for any trends of specific problems that have arisen repeatedly. For example, if there's something new that's causing your child distress or you have a consistent problem with one staff member not adhering to the IEP, the upcoming meeting is the time to address it. Bring your records to support your claims.
Write Down Your Goals for Your Child
One of the key parts of the IEP meeting is determining what the school is working to help your child with. Set some key goals of things you want your child to achieve during this upcoming year. For example, if your child struggles with executive functioning issues, you may want to include a goal for organization and ensuring that school assignments are turned in on time with the support of an aide as well as your home involvement.
Ensure that the school administration is seeing your child at the same level that you are, and discuss any goals or milestones that aren't the same. The goal is to ensure that your child is working toward a successful future, so make sure that the school's goals and suggestions help achieve that goal.
Bring Legal Support
Particularly in cases where you've struggled to get the support your child needs, you shouldn't go into the IEP meeting by yourself. Talk with a special education attorney who can attend the meeting with you and offer you the legal support that you need. He or she can help you compile documents to support your position and will ensure that the IEP document is complete and accurate before you sign it. To learn more about special education attorney's contact a law firm like Law Office of Mark W Voigt.