Are you prepared for your child’s IEP meeting this year? We can help. Since last March when the U.S. Supreme Court decided the landmark decision, Endrew F., which gave students with disabilities more rights, you should have changed the way you prepare for IEP meetings. Students are now entitled to be challenged regardless of the severity of their disability. It may seem like an obvious point, but before that 2017 decision, barely more than a babysitting service were acceptable. Here’s some tips on what you should do to prepare:
Come ready to add ambitious goals to the IEP. Under the new law every child is entitled to be challenged. The level of the challenge is set by the IEP goals. Ask for standardized information and data on your child’s performance this year. Ask for information on how your child is performing compared with other students his or her age. Grades are not standardized because they reflect only your child’s progress, and not how their performance compares to others outside of their class. If they have no standardized information, that’s a legal problem.
What you have to say about your child is important. School personnel can’t just present you with their version of the facts and tell you there’s no alternative but to listen to them. According to the Supreme Court, parents and school representatives must “fully air their respective opinions on the degree of progress a child’s IEP should pursue.” There has to be a “fact-intensive” discussion about your child.
Don’t be afraid to demand that your child be included in the general education setting for as much of the day as possible. The law has a preference for inclusion (i.e., having your child in a general education class), and he or she is entitled to all the reasonable supports they require to remain in inclusion.
If your child spends all, or most of, their time in a general education class, they are expected to achieve grade level standards. If they are not achieving at grade level, they need more support in the general ed setting, such as more instruction from a special education teacher or paraprofessional assistance.
If your child spends most of their time in a special ed class, the IEP team should consider the progress they’ve made there and whether they might make more progress in the gen ed setting with more supports. Most disabled children spend their day in the general ed classroom.
If you’re child needs to be in special ed most of the day, under the new law they are entitled to be challenged in light of their individual circumstances. Schools can not get away with setting low expectations or setting the same goals year after year. To determine how much they should be challenged, the team should try to predict – using comprehensive psycho-educational testing, facts and current circumstances – how much more they could achieve under the right conditions.
If you don’t agree with what the school has to say about your child, document what you disagree with and don’t sign your agreement to the IEP.