AFTER the IEP Meeting

It seems that many parents anticipate and prepare for an IEP meeting and then that’s it. Often, it’s very anti-climatic, all that preparing and worrying. And then what? Are you left with this feeling of not being resolved, or not knowing what to expect? Sound familiar?

Let’s go over what happens during and after the IEP meeting.

Before the IEP meeting

Because I have to say it. You knew I was going to, right? Ideally, the IEP meeting itself is not the end-all, be-all of your child’s IEP process. If you, the parent, are actively and fully participating in all five parts of the IEP process. Right? RIGHT? If you are, trust me, the IEP meeting and the whole process itself will go much smoother.

If you continue to basically only participate in some communication and the IEP meeting itself, the meetings will likely continue to be long, taxing, draining and exhausting. When you take part in all five parts and have open communication with the team, there are no surprises or real battles to be fought during the IEP meeting. Those have already taken place.

What Happens at an IEP meeting

During an IEP meeting, the discussion should really focus on a few topics.

That’s really it. So, you can see from that list, if you participated in the evaluations portion of the IEP process, there should be no surprises in that area.

After the IEP meeting

after IEP meeting

I have said this a zillion times out loud and in texts, emails, and social media. There is one super important, the necessary thing that EVERY PARENT MUST DO after their IEP meeting. You should do this after every meeting you have with your child’s team. This way, there are no surprises when you receive the final IEP.

Most IEP parents I know do not do this. And yet, all of them should be.

No, I don’t mean going home and drinking wine and crying. We all do that, doesn’t mean we should.

You need to do a brain dump and write a letter to your IEP team leader.

Remember, in IEP land, it is all about the paper trail. If you didn’t write it down, it didn’t happen.

MUST do 24-48 hours after your IEP meeting

Take your notepad, grab a hot cup of tea and go to your computer. Now sit down and do a brain dump. It can start as a Thank You note, however, you are an equal member of the IEP team. Are they sending you thank-you notes for having an IEP meeting? Probably not. And just like I feel bringing food to an IEP meeting creates an uneven balance, I feel a note that is just a note of thanks is not warranted.

Dear {special ed team leader},

I want to thank you and the team for meeting with us today to discuss my child {name}. A lot of information was tossed around, so I want to make sure that I have everything correct. As I recall, we discussed:

  • and list what you discussed
  • every.single.item
  • yes, really
  • bullet point them for simplicity
  • even items you are not happy with “we discussed the possibility of getting Jacob a 1:1, which most of the team disagreed with, but I still feel he needs.”
  • items you are unsure about “we discussed increasing his OT from once per week to twice per week, but we did not discuss when that will begin. Please make sure that is clarified on the IEP.”

How to end your letter

“Please let me know if I have forgotten anything or misunderstood anything. I will look for my finalized copy of the IEP and the PWN within the next week or so.”

Simple. It puts the ball in their court. If they do not refute anything that you have said, in the eyes of the law, it stands as truth.

You have let them know that you expect a PWN with all of the items on it, and you were not confrontational about it.

Should your IEP arrive with missing items, or items on it that are different than what was discussed, you have some data to refute it.

What to expect after the IEP meeting:

  • If the team ran out of time and needs to meet again, that should be decided while you have everyone at the table. Otherwise, when you do your recap email, put in it your available dates and times.
  • Print off your IEP organizer and box up the old one; put new IEP files in your new binder with new dates.

If you do not need to meet again, or that second IEP meeting has taken place:

  • Ask when you will receive a copy of the IEP. Some states clearly define a time, others do not. Check your state’s regs for specifics. If your state does not clearly define it, I’d say a week or two is a courtesy.
  • If it was not defined during the meeting, ask when the new IEP will start to be implemented.
  • Make sure that the person printing and sending the IEP is aware that you are also expecting a PWN with it. This is an item to include in your recap email.
  • Follow up on any items you were to follow up on–such as calling specialists or getting outside reports or something.
  • Ask for your Permission to Evaluate form, if, during the meeting, the team decided that they were going to do more evaluations.
  • Ask what you need to do, what forms you need, to enroll your child in any programs that were decided upon during the meeting.

Once you receive the final IEP draft:

  • Send an email to whoever sent it to you. “Dear IEP person, I received the final draft of son’s IEP today. I will be likely using the full 10 days to review it, so I will send you any necessary correspondence by (include date that is 10 days from now).” This way you will get the full 10 days from which you received it, and the email you are sending is acknowledging what day you received it.
  • Then, read it. Carefully.
  • Read this year’s goals compared to last year’s, and add them to the Goal Tracking Worksheet (below)
  • Compare it to your recap email. Is everything in there?
  • Is there a PWN? If not, you need to send another email: “Dear IEP person, I received the final draft of the IEP today. However, there is no PWN form, particularly for items XY and Z which we discussed in the meeting. Would you like to send one, or should I just create one and include it when I send back the IEP?” Some states have official PWN forms, but they aren’t absolutely necessary. You can find lots of templates online.
  • Get it back to them in a timely manner, either using certified mail or hand deliver for date accuracy and tracking.
  • You will have to decide if you are choosing mediation or due process over disagreement items.

And now you’re done. It would be great if the meeting was it. But the meeting is just one part of the process. Trust me, once you regularly stay on top of things, it gets much easier.

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