You Have an Equal Voice in All IEP Meetings

Dr. Susan Burnett, Paralegal and Advocate 

Have you ever gone to your child’s IEP meeting with the uncomfortable premonition right from the start that it is going to be an adversarial meeting?

You walk in and everyone is friendly enough, but then someone proceeds with a conversation laden with inaccuracies and diversions. When challenged, the friendliness dissipates and the tension begins to grow. You request that the note taker record a detailed and accurate description of what is discussed. This is met with opposition as the person taking the notes is also the one who is running the meeting.

What do you do when the odds of a fair, honest and balanced discussion that could result in appropriate assessments and interventions seem unattainable?

What are your options?

Did you know that you can call an end to the meeting? As an equal IEP team member, you do not have to stay in a meeting where you are being minimized and sometimes bullied. You can simply state that you don’t feel as though the district is allowing you to be an equal participant and therefore the meeting will have to be rescheduled. You can take this even further if needed and send a letter to the director of special education requesting that a particular IEP team member not participate in your child’s meeting.

If needed invite the district education special to meet with you personally and listen to your concerns from the meeting.

Hopefully, you will never have this type of experience and your team already works collaboratively with you. But if difficulties in these meetings occur, it is important to know that as an equal IEP team member you have a vital role in the meeting and can advocate for your child as needed

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