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The Special Education IEP and the Parent Underdog

Are you a parent of a child with a learning disability? The deck is stacked against you for achieving a quality, special education IEP. Learn how to get the best possible program for your child. What is an IEP ? The special education IEP (Individualized Education Program) process was created by the Federal law called IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) to ensure that students with learning disabilities would receive an appropriate education. The IEP process can be confusing, stressful, and sometimes terrifying to parents. The process comes to a head at the IEP meeting, so this is often the most stressful part of the IEP process. Why is this process so difficult for parents? Through a series of 3 articles, we’ll look at the IEP process, why the deck is stacked against parents, steps to take to even the odds, the IEP success method to follow for an effective IEP meeting, and how to prepare for IEP 911.

What are the IEP Process Steps? Identify that a problem exists and it cannot be solved Educate yourself about the IEP process Assess and test the student Analyze the test results Prepare for the meeting / get and give input in advance Meet to review information and create (or deny) an IEP Evaluate the plan and alternatives Execute the plan or alternative Negotiate changes Monitor progress Manage transitions Repeat the process, at least annually The IEP - Why are Parents at a disadvantage? 1. You are usually outnumbered. The other attendees are speaking a language that is difficult for you to understand-educationese, legalese, and medicalese. Your child is one of many students. This is their job, but your child. This sets you up for emotional reactions. Because you are emotionally involved, it is harder to be objective. You feel you have more to lose; it’s easy to become defensive or lose your temper. The people sitting across from you are people you learned to respect, obey, and / or fear as a child. Principals, medical people, teachers. You may not see yourself as an equal.

6. You are asking for something. It is implied that anything you ask for will take away from another student. Some of these people attend dozens of IEP meetings every month. You may go to one or two a year. They have experience on their side. The school personnel earn a salary while they attend these meetings. You may give up some salary to attend.

The school district has an attorney. You may know of an attorney! 10. You may not be sure what is “wrong” with your child. 11. You have no way of judging if the school’s recommendations will help your child or not. 12. If your child attends the meeting, hearing certain things may upset your child, then you. 13. If the school rejects the IEP, you may feel as if you have just lost your lifeline.

14. If you have argued before, threatened legal action, complained about an IEP and on and on, the relationship inside the room might have moved over to confrontational or adversarial. The above are true even if you are in a cooperative, collaborative meeting and all working together. You can continue the list from here if you have moved over to an adversarial meeting! How do you even the odds? 1. You need to prepare for the IEP meeting and review test results before the meeting. 2. You need to study negotiating before the meeting. You need to be organized and to have everything written down.


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