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504 plan

How to Walk Out of an IEP Meeting with a Smile on Your Face ...


How to Walk Out of an IEP Meeting with a Smile on Your Face ...

This video is a fictional account of what a bad Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting might look like. If an IEP goes like this, you better call a special education attorney. Contact Montgomery Law for a free IEP review and consultation regarding your child's educational program and placement. Click to play.


If your child receives special education services, by law he or she must have an Individualized Education Plan, or IEP. The IEP is a legal document that lists your child’s needs, a plan for the school to address those needs, and a method to measure your child’s progress. The IEP must include: a report of your child’s present level of performance; your child’s current educational goals; a list of supports, services, modifications and accommodations the school will provide for your child to help attain those goals; how and when the school will measure your child’s progress toward annual goals and transitional planning to help your child transition to life after high school (Stanberry, 2014-2015). These components will be determined in a meeting between you, the parent, and school officials. Parents often leave an IEP meeting feeling frustrated and unheard. The IEP is the district’s official offer of a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) for your child. By following a few important guidelines, you will leave the IEP meeting with a smile on your face knowing your child will receive the best possible plan for success.

1.     Preparing for the Meeting

  • Establish initial communication with the classroom teacher, principal, or special education teacher. It is important to build a positive rapport with at least one of these individuals before the meeting. It will make you feel more at ease, and it sets a collaborative tone for the meeting.
  • Write down any information you feel is important, and prioritize the areas you wish to address. Notes will help you to ensure everything you wanted to discuss is covered.  Determine which officials will be attending the meeting ahead of time. Walking into a room full of strangers can be intimidating. Knowing the people who will be attending will take the surprise out of the initial introductions.
  • If you have pertinent documents you would like to share with school officials, it is best to send them copies before the meeting. This provides them with time to examine the information.
  • By law, you should have a copy of the district’s reports in advance of the IEP meeting.
  • Don’t allow the district to offer you only one potential date for the meeting. Don’t be intentionally stubborn, but to a point the district has to work around your schedule.

2.     During the Meeting

  • Go into the meeting with a positive, open mindset. It is easy to allow emotions to cloud your purpose. Understand that you are part of a collaborative team working for your child’s best interests. You are an integral part of the IEP team, and you should feel empowered by that fact.
  • The law states that parents must be afforded “meaningful participation” in the IEP meeting. Ask for any special accommodations you may need, such as an interpreter. It is important that you are as comfortable as possible and understand everything related to the meeting.
  • When you are discussing your child, it is important to realize you know him or her better than anyone else. Make sure you personalize the meeting by discussing your child’s specific strengths and needs. Give a face to the name on the IEP.
  • The school professionals will most likely have data about your child with which you are unaware. It is important to accept this information to understand the entire scope of your child’s strengths and needs. School officials may see things you don’t see at home. Keep an open mind to their information.
  • As the parent, it is your job to stay focused on the final outcome and not the process. It is the professionals’ responsibility to come up with a plan to achieve that outcome. If you do not trust the plan, you can contest it in a due process proceeding, either on your own or with the assistance of an attorney.
  • Ask questions about anything that is unclear. Educators and administrators may use unfamiliar jargon and acronyms. Ask them to clarify any confusing terms or concepts.
  • Bring another person, such as a spouse, friend, or other relative, along to the meeting for support. They can also provide a second set of ears in the event you forget something that has been said. It is a gray area as to whether or not you may make an audio recording of the meeting. Notify the school before the meeting as to who will be accompanying you and that you plan to record the meeting, if you are doing so. If you do choose to record meeting, the district will probably also record the meeting, even they allow the meeting to be recorded at all.
  • Include your child in an age appropriate manner. At age 16, your child has the legal right to be included in the meeting. At 18, he or she will be the adult making the decisions for their transition after high school. If your child is younger, come to the meeting with a list of their concerns or thoughts to be shared with the group. You are your child’s second best advocate; they are their own best advocate. It is important to have your child involved in the decision making process when appropriate.
  • You should ask to take the IEP home before signing it after having taken the time to properly review and digest everything that you have just learned. This is an especially good idea if you were undecided about anything, or if you simply want to review it with fresh eyes the next day. Before leaving the meeting, you should sign the area that states you attended the meeting. Signing the attendance page does not bind you to anything, it just says that you were in fact present.

3.     After the Meeting

  • If you have concerns about anything listed in the document after reviewing the IEP, return the unsigned IEP with a separate document listing those concerns. Contact officials and reschedule another IEP meeting to address your concerns. If you have signed the IEP, but you have new concerns or something is unclear, contact officials for clarification. It is important to note that you may withdraw your permission for all or part of the IEP at any time. You may also ask for a new IEP meeting at any time to discuss new terms. The IEP is a fluid document that can and should be modified and revisited whenever appropriate.
  • Discuss the IEP with your child. It is important to acknowledge your child’s areas of strength and any progress that he or she has already made.  Review the goals and objectives of the IEP so your child knows what is expected of them and what measures will be taken to help them achieve those ends.
  • Keep your copy of the IEP in a safe, easily accessible area. You should be receiving periodic updates on your child’s progress, which you can keep filed with the IEP. Review the information regularly to ensure the goals and objectives are being met.
  • Keep an open dialogue with the teachers and special education teachers. Work together with the educators to help your child achieve their goals. Incorporate activities at home that reinforce the areas being addressed in school.

Final Thoughts on Successful IEP Meetings:

Preparation is key to a successful IEP meeting. Attending the meeting armed with a positive attitude, documentation, and questions will facilitate a positive experience.  Keeping a collaborative mindset and knowing your rights and your child’s rights will ensure a productive outcome implemented to help your child flourish. It is important to note that by no means must you accept what the district offers without protest. If you feel as though the IEP is inadequate and/or inappropriate, consult with a special education attorney. Most attorneys that specialize in school law will gladly take a look at your child’s IEP for no charge and give you their opinion as to whether or not your child is being denied the Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) that they are entitled to by law.

To learn more about your legal rights when it comes to IEPs , give Montgomery Law a call at 215-650-7563.

Note, nothing in this article or on this website is to be considered medical or legal advice. 

We would love to know your thoughts / experiences, chime in below ..







What should you do if your child is being bullied...

The American Psychological Association defines bullying as, “aggressive behavior that is intended to cause distress or harm, involves an imbalance of power or strength between the aggressor and the victim, and occurs repeatedly over time. Bullying may take many forms, including physical, verbal, relational and cyber” (“Bullying and School Climate,” n.d.). Bullying is linked to decreased self-esteem, lower academic success, depression and suicide in its victims. Parents are the key to helping their children successfully overcome bullying.  By implementing the following game plan, parents can ensure their child’s mental and physical safety.

1.     Ask Questions

Certain groups of students are more likely to be targeted, for example, based on disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, weight, race or religion (“Bullying and School Climate,” n.d.). Despite this fact, bullying knows no bounds, and many children who are bullied keep it a secret. Victims may feel it is deserved, especially if they already have low self-esteem. They often suffer in silence because they feel humiliated, and they don’t want to embarrass their family. Parents need to keep the lines of communication open with their child. If you notice your child has become withdrawn, angry or emotional, investigate the situation.

2.     Be Your Child’s Ally

If your child confesses that they are being bullied, assure them they have your full attention and support. Let them know you will help in whatever way you can. Your first course of action is to become knowledgeable about the school’s anti-bullying protocol. This will provide you with a solid foundation when meeting with school officials. Also, make sure to document every incident in detail. Provide the dates, times, actions, and results. Going into a meeting with school representatives, armed with facts, provides you with knowledge and power to advocate for your child.

3.     Schedule a Meeting

Meet with your child’s teacher(s), guidance counselor and principal, face to face, to inform them of the situation. If your child has special needs, or an IEP, which includes other professionals, make sure those professionals are also at the meeting. Determine any knowledge officials have concerning incidents involving your child. School officials must document known incidents of bullying, and it is your right to request copies of those documents pertaining to your child.

As difficult as it may be, try to keep your emotions out of the discussion. Go in prepared with the facts, and discuss the detailed times, places, and descriptions of the incident(s). This will help officials understand the seriousness of the situation, and assist in forming a plan to correct the problem. Once a plan is agreed upon, make sure it is documented and signed by all members present. Make sure you leave the meeting with a copy of the document.

4.     Move Up the Chain of Command

If you feel your concerns are not being addressed by the teacher(s), guidance counselor, and principal, you may need to move up the chain of authority. Report your concerns to the school superintendent, school board, or state and federal law enforcement. It is important to make sure your school district is taking the situation seriously. Again, make sure you are tracking every incident with dates, times and facts. Details are crucial when discussing the incident, especially when talking with law enforcement. If you feel that despite your best efforts you are not being heard and you don’t feel as though your child is safe, contact an attorney.

5.     File an Official Complaint

Principals are required to notify the school and local authorities when a child is being threatened.  Parents should file a complaint each time there is an incident, not just the initiating occurrence. If the event rise to the level of being criminal, file a complaint with the local police. If you are unsure, contact an attorney.

6.     Get Professional Help

Arrange for your child to see an individual therapist to deal with the anxiety, depression and low self-esteem that often accompanies bullying. Suicide, attributed to bullying factors, is on the rise. Make sure your child has your support, and that of a professional therapist, to help them cope. This is the best way to ensure their mental and physical health and safety.

7.     Regulate Technology

Limit and/or monitor your child’s access to technology. With the advent of the internet, bullying has taken on a more sinister and widespread forum. Keeping track of your child’s cyber interactions can prevent them from being the victim of cyberbullying. Report any cyberbullying issues to the school and local law officials.

8.     Contact the U.S. Department of Education

If you are not receiving the help you need from your school officials, the U.S. Department of Education may be able to help. They take bullying seriously, and they may investigate the situation and assign an educational consultant to the case.

9.     Contact an Attorney

If you feel your concerns are being ignored, contact an attorney to handle your case. It is your child’s legal right to receive an education free from harassment. If you are not sure whether to contact an attorney then you should contact an attorney. Most attorneys accept free consultations and would be happy to talk to you, especially if a child’s safety is on the line.

10. Demand that your child’s rights are being protected.

Students face academic challenges every day of their school career, but they have the right to an education free from intimidation and harm. Parents can advocate for their child by knowing school policy, keeping lines of communication open with their child and the school, and demanding the schools help in assuring their child’s safety. With you as their warrior, your child will survive the bullying and thrive as a successful member of society.

To learn more about your legal rights when it comes to bullying, give us a call at 215-650-7563.

Note, nothing in this article or on this website is to be considered medical or legal advice. 

We would love to know your thoughts / experiences, chime in below ...