IEP Strategies Navigating School Meetings

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IEP Strategies
Navigating School Meetings
© 2008 Laura Lum Corby
© Solution Center, Inc. 1
IEP Strategies
does IDEA Provide:
◦ Part B
School-based Services Ages 3 – 22 years Focus on Educational Outcomes
◦ Part C
Early Intervention Services Birth to Age 3 Focus on Natural Environment
© Autism Solution Center, Inc.
IEP Strategies
makes up the team involved in the meeting?
◦ The team includes ….. ◦ Ladies, take a man to the meeting! If hubby can’t go, take the gardener!
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IEP Strategies
determines what’s appropriate for the child?
◦ It’s a TEAM decision
A team decision means the entire TEAM has played a role in determining the proper outcome and provision of service. This DOES NOT mean that the LEA representative dictates what is going to be done, and no discussion or input is provided by the remainder of the TEAM. Consider using the round-a-bout discussion method
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IEP Strategies
 How
◦ Evaluations are performed ◦ Recommendations are made based on evaluation results
The recommendations MUST be made based on outcomes of the evaluations and based on individual need, not based on what that particular system has available, or is choosing to offer. School staff meetings that happen before the TEAM meeting, to decide what they will and will not do in advance, are illegal. The parent should be a part of that process and any decision making on behalf of that child. Be aware that often teachers, aides, and therapists are caught in the middle.
Example: A speech therapist is told in advance of the meeting by the school LEA representative that they are not allowed to advise more than “x” number of hours in a particular setting. That is illegal, yet it happens all the time.
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are those decisions made?
IEP Strategies
◦ How are those decisions made? (cont’d.) ◦ Goals & objectives written
Goals and objectives MUST BE MEASURABLE. Require they be written very specifically, in terms that can be measured, and don’t allow for generalities. Broad goals make it very difficult to show lack of progress. Be specific and have them change the wording. Don’t allow for method of determination to be teacher observation only. There needs to be adequate, objective data to Autism Solution Center, Inc. show progress, not just a subjective,
IEP Strategies
 What
if I disagree with the recommendations of the team?
◦ Unfortunately, the current law places the burden of proof on the family. That means that if you feel the school is not appropriately providing for your child, you have the responsibility of showing them why what they are doing is inadequate, and proof that what you are requesting will be appropriate. DO YOUR HOMEWORK! This is also where data can be your best friend! A solid paper trail can often be your best ally in these instances.
Never use the word BEST, you only want what’s APPROPRIATE for your child!
They are not required to give you a Cadillac, but they also cannot give you a jalopy. You may have to settle for a Ford or Chevy!
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IEP Strategies
◦ What if I disagree with the recommendations of the team? (cont’d.) ◦ Ask for explanations as to HOW they arrived at their decisions.
Example: Mrs. Jones, I promise I’m not trying to be a jerk here. I am just really having a hard time understanding how the decision was made to provide one half hour of speech therapy per week, in a group setting, for a completely nonverbal child, functioning on an 18 month old level. I’m sure you must have your reasons, but I would just really appreciate you explaining this to me in a way I can understand it. After all, this has a direct impact on whether or not my child will eventually be functioning as an independent adult, so I feel much weight must be placed on these decisions. Can you please tell me what other tools or resources you used to lead you to this decision?
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IEP Strategies
◦ What if I disagree with the recommendations of the team? (cont’d.) ◦ Anytime a request is denied, your response should always be:
Wow! Really! Ok, well I am just shocked, but I understand. Do me a favor though, I need you to put that in writing on your letterhead please, along with your reasoning for the denial. (Insert loud screech and rapid back peddling here!)
◦ Parents can request Individual Educational Evaluation (IEE) that can be through the provider of THEIR choice. This does not have to be from a list of agencies or providers contracted by the school system. This is also paid for by the school, not paid for by the parent and reimbursed by the school, which could potentially make it inaccessible to many.
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IEP Strategies
 Positive
◦ Tape Record ALL Meetings
Strategies For Change
Don’t hide it! Let them know you are taping. This is your legal right, though check your state statutes for recording conversations.
◦ Document Everything In Writing – He With The Most Documentation Wins!
Send initial meeting request letter in writing
See Templates – outline expectations & document reasoning & research.
Phone Calls
When phone call is finished, immediately type a letter recapping what was discussed and by whom.
After meeting, immediately type a letter recapping what was discussed and by whom. Don’t forget to quote any areas you feel could be potential breaches. The tape will be helpful here.
Conversations in the hallway!!
After conversation, immediately type a letter recapping what was discussed and by whom.
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IEP Strategies
Positive Strategies For Change (cont’d.) Keep all papers sent home from school
You will need documentation to support your progress, or lack thereof. Notes from teachers about behavior, handwriting samples, etc. can be extremely helpful in these cases. Request a journal be kept documenting their day. This does not need to be a dissertation, only a few sentences about what they are working in and any difficulties during the day or areas that need special attention. It is ideal to have both the teacher, and any therapist providing pull-out services, documenting their time that day. If there’s no documentation of the session, it didn’t happen.
Always list your dissent on the IEP/IFSP you sign if you are not in agreement. Sign to show you were present, but list what you are in disagreement on, and not just in the notes. Speaking of notes, make sure ALL services are listed in the actual IEP/IFSP document under services, NOT in the notes. The notes are not actually a part of the legal IEP document. Provide Accountability
Original letter goes to school IEP team Carbon copies go to the following: School Board County/City School Special Ed. Dept. Supervisor State Dept. of Education Special Ed. State representatives State Governor Autism Solution Center, Inc. US Dept. of Education