Safeguards for Parents During IEP Meetings

Safeguards for Parents During IEP MeetingsEverything that we read tells us that parents are a part of the IEP team and as such, there needs to be safeguards for parents during IEP meetings. We have the right to ask questions, suggest, discuss, and project what needs our child has and help to develop accommodations / modifications for the IEP. We are the people who know our child the best and certainly have information to contribute to positively affect the effectiveness of the IEP.

But why does it not feel like we are part of the team so many times as we enter the room. Decisions are clearly made prior to this meeting, not the least of which are goals and placement of the child, which may or may not include all necessary ADHD interventions. The agreement or disagreement coming from you the parent may not make the difference in the craft of this document.

But the IDEA 2004, special-ed law, has in it procedural safeguards that can protect you. One of these is known as Prior Written Notice. This can be confused with the notice we receive prior to a meeting noting who will attend. This is an important notice but is not the Prior Written Notice. That document is required by the district when they refuse change in services or placement. They are not in a position to just say “no” to a requested change without explaining reasons why. But this does not necessarily happen. In addition, many times discussions are tabled for a later date. They are also mandated to explain why something is held for a future date and when that date will be!

For the sake of establishing a very effective paper trail, it then falls on your shoulders to write it yourself after a meeting. This should be a description of what happened at the meeting. In other words, your interpretation of what occurred.

Why is this important? Either the family gets what is requested or at the very least, this PWN becomes part of a very important paper trail that may become key in mediation or due process. In addition, it certainly becomes another area that will help with the advocacy of your child. Again, further supporting the reason why safeguards for parents during IEP meetings is so important.

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