Marta V. Leyva, M.A. is the owner of Voz de Victoria, a bilingual (Spanish / English) special education advocacy and educational consulting firm that has been supporting parents in for the last 8 years. She currently works to improve the lives of children with disabilities and their families by creating a collaborative partnership between parents/guardians and school/educational teams to ensure students receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE) while having both their academic and social/emotional needs met.
Mr. Eisenberg has provided advocacy assistance and representation to over 1,000 families with special needs since 1984. He has represented families in the education process at Individual Education Planning meetings, Mediations, and Resolution meetings; Individual Program Planning meetings, Mediations, Informal Meetings and Fair Hearings for Regional Center services and Eligibility. He has facilitated workshops for support groups on special education issues and the Lanterman Act. He specializes in working with families using interest based negotiations in a non-adversarial relationship. Mr. Eisenberg is also a parent of special needs children.
Kim Taylor’s passion for advocating started at a young age. Both of her brothers had their own unique learning challenges and their parents actively advocated for them.
This is a summary of the third edition of CSNLG’s Beginner’s Guide to the IEP. In this podcast, host Michael Boll and CSNLG attorney/advocate Linaja Murray discuss what happens during the IEP meeting and what it feels like to be there. The podcast can be found here.
What is the atmosphere like?
- The atmosphere is collaborative — the one purpose of the meeting is to identify the student’s strengths/deficits and how to address each area of concern.
- You may be nervous or on edge at the beginning, which is totally normal, as a parent you are likely concerned for your child.
Who is there? What are their roles?
- About 12 people will be present, this may include:
- General education teacher.
- Teachers who assist with your child, such as a special day class teacher and SAI teacher.
- Assessors, such as the school psychologist
- At a triennial IEP meeting, all assessors will be present
- For some children, assessors may be an occupational therapist or a speech and language pathologist.
What should I bring to the IEP meeting?
- Notebook to take notes.
- A friend, family member, or someone else who supports you
Assessments should be provided to you in advance
- Request these about ten days before the IEP meeting so you can familiarize yourself with them
What should I take away from the IEP meeting?
- Copies of everything discussed
What is the difference between an annual IEP and a triennial IEP?
- At the triennial IEP meeting there are a lot of assessments to go over such as the psychoeducational assessment.
- This will also include ancillary assessments, such as speech and language, OT, visual, audio processing, or behavior assessments depending on your child’s specific needs.
- At the annual IEP meeting, these assessments are not necessary — annual IEPs tend to be shorter, with much fewer people involved.
What does the process of the IEP meeting look like?
- The IEP meeting is called.
- A teacher or district representative will ask to do introductions where each person will give their name and title.
- The meeting then starts; an agenda may be followed.
- The strengths of the student will be shared.
- The progress and goals of the student will be shared and whether goals have been met or not
- Feedback from people in charge of those goals will be shared.
- Parents can weigh in to discuss whether they believe goals have been met.
- Services and accommodations (such as extra time during testing, preferential seating, behavioral aid) are discussed. This is when FAPE is brought up: special education and related services that your child should be receiving.
- As a parent, you should get as much in writing as possible.
- This process tends to be toward the end of the IEP meeting.
This summary is part of our complete Beginner’s Guide to the IEP
Tia began working as an educator more than fifteen years ago. Having completed an undergraduate degree in English, she began her career with Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes®, treating weaknesses in reading and language comprehension. As an Executive Director and Workshop Presenter, she oversaw the program implementation in multiple sites, led coaching efforts for current and new staff, and taught school administrators, therapists, and parents how to implement the programs in their homes or schools.
Brock Tropea is a speech and language pathologist and clinical director of Stepping Stones Therapy and Learning Academy. He is also an outside consultant to various school districts within Orange County.
This article is a summary of the podcast Special Education Matters: Understanding Your Case, with host Michael Boll and CSNLG lead attorney Richard Isaacs. The podcast can be found here. This conversation focuses on understanding your case and the steps that are taken once you’re involved with an attorney.
What happens after a family decides to work with CSNLG?
The next step is to complete a file review. We’ll request the complete file from the school district and any other important documents.
Everything is carefully looked over. This includes:
- Individualized education plan (IEP)
Why this is done
- This is done so we can find out who the student is and understand what might be missing in the file.
- We may discover early legal issues: if the district has procedural violations, implementation issues, etc — these are things that can be leveraged later.
After the file review
- This is when another conversation is held between families and us.
- After reviewing the file, we have a better understanding of the situation. We can discuss and present solutions. For example, this might include calling for another IEP meeting, a district assessment, an outside assessment, and other long term goals.
When would it be appropriate to get an outside assessment?
- There may be problems with the district’s assessment. It may be wrong or unsuitable.
- Parents have the right to disagree with district assessments and request the district to fund an outside assessment (an Independent Educational Evaluation, or IEE). The district has only two choices when an IEE is requested. It can either fund the requested IEE or file for due process against the family to defend its assessment.
What happens if the school district says no and defends their assessment?
- If a district decides to defend their assessment, they must file a due process complaint against the family to defend their assessment.
How long do assessments take?
- The assessment process can take several months.
- When the school district starts an assessment, they have 60 days to complete and review that assessment at an IEP meeting. A privately funded independent assessment has no time restriction and as such, often takes longer. In a best case scenario, it takes about 2-4 months.
- If the District is funding the IEE this can delay the completion of the assessment by several months.
This summary is part of our complete Beginner’s Guide to the Special Education Legal Process.
Brenda earned her Bachelors Degree in Criminology, Law and Society in 1998 from UC Irvine, a Masters Degree, from UCI, in 2001 and advanced to candidacy for a Ph.D. in sociology in 2003. Brenda has taught at several Southern California colleges and universities between 2001 and 2009 and has been advocating for disabled students since 1998.
Dave is the founder and CEO of Sacramento Autistic Spectrum and Special Needs Alliance (SASSNA), a nonprofit organization in Sacramento, California that provides high-quality, comprehensive social services to mentally-diverse young people and their families in the Greater Sacramento region. Dave’s formal background is in applied behavior analysis and psychology.
The IEP can be stressful at times. These five (plus one) tips will help you relax, prepare and feel good about your parental role before, during and after the IEP.