How to Prepare for the Annual IEP Meeting

It’s that time of year again! Your child’s annual IEP meeting should be convened over the next few months. What should you do to prepare?

First, if you settled with your school district for the 2014-2015 school year, you should read the settlement agreement that you signed (or ask your attorney to read it). Does it require anything from you? This is very important, because the language in some stipulations of settlement require parents to take certain actions. If you fail to abide by the terms of the settlement agreement, that failure may be used against you in any type of settlement for the 2015-2016 school year, or at a hearing.

Second, if your child is currently in a non-public school, share your child’s progress reports from the current school year with your Committee on Special Education (“CSE”). Also, if your child has had any updated private evaluations done since the last IEP meeting, make sure that you share those, too, with the CSE. Your sharing should preferably be by fax and with a fax confirmation page. Your fax machine does not produce fax confirmation pages, find one that does! You can also send faxes by email, such as www.hellofax.com - this is a pay as you fax, service.

Third, share any and all communications you receive from your school district with your attorney. Don’t have an attorney yet? Now is the time to find one who specializes in Special Education (not just dabbles) and with whom you feel comfortable. It is important that you and your attorney develop a good rapport and you feel confident is someone who will listen to you and be responsive, along with giving you sound legal advice.

Fourth, stay organized amidst the chaos. Organization is natural for some people, and not for most. There are many methods of staying organized. I have found that a binder with tabs works well for families trying to manage all the paperwork they must keep track of. If you have been communicating with your school district, print out the emails, and keep the letters. When you fax any information to your school district, keep a copy of the fax confirmation page - it serves as a reliable record of your communication with your school district.  (Hand delivery is the worst method of delivery because if they deny it, it is very difficult to prove otherwise). If your child is currently in a public school, and you are seeing problems, keep copies of all school work that comes home with your child and copy samples of homework that your child does (independently) so that at the IEP meeting, you can show the “team” what you see as problematic. It is always helpful to have specific works samples to point to.

If you do not hear from your school district about convening an annual IEP meeting, speak with your attorney about your next steps in planning your child’s educational program for the 2015-2016 school year.

Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have at tracey@spencerwalshlaw.com