Today’s question made me chuckle:
I was talking with a coworker and she said I should never go to an IEP meeting without donuts. I never even thought about bringing anything. We want your opinion.
You are funny.
Ok, yeah, first of all, it is my understanding (and I could be wrong) but somewhere out there, there’s a group that does IEP workshops or something, and their advice is to always bring food–coffee, donuts, bagels, whatever. So that information spread like wildfire, all across chat rooms and listservs and whatnot, and why many parents feel obligated to do so. I’m glad that you phrased it as “we want your opinion” instead of “do I need to bring donuts?” So here we go, my opinion.
I have not and don’t ever plan to bring any food or gifts to an IEP meeting, either as a parent or as an advocate. And here’s my reasoning. (FWIW, when you read this you will probably think that I have waaayyyy overthought this. Probably have.)
According to the law and Procedural Safeguards, parents are an equal member of the IEP team. In my opinion, bringing in food or gifts of any kind changes that. Are they bringing you any food or gifts? No, they’re not. See how that’s uneven?
It also makes the setting informal (again, my opinion) and while I want the tone to be relaxed–this is very much a formality, not a party. I am here to discuss my child’s goals, education and future, not have a continental breakfast. This is a business meeting, and while it’s not unusual to have donuts or snacks at a business meeting…when that happens, it is usually catered.
And, of course the thinking is, if you are “nicer” by bringing donuts, then they will be nicer and “give me what I want” as far as changes to the IEP. That just doesn’t sit well with me. I want us all to change the IEP collaboratively, because we agree it’s the right course of action. Not because I pumped them up with lard and sugar beforehand. I want my child’s IEP to based on his needs and abilities, not constructed differently because I’m a “cool parent, easy to deal with.” By the way, I doubt those words are next to my name in any school’s book.
That being said, I have a holiday gift giving list that is tremendously long, dozens of people. All the teachers, aides, therapists, everyone … heck I even give gifts to our garbagemen. There’s a time and a place for gift giving and for being thankful for your team–the IEP meeting isn’t it. Meeting isn’t about them, it’s about your child. Of course, this is for my family and my setting and why I don’t do it. I suppose if you’ve been a jerk for the past few months and just realized that you’ve been an unreasonable jerk, then perhaps a peace offering isn’t a bad idea either.
So there you go. Sorry you asked?
This post was originally published in 2012 but was recently updated.
What you should do/read/bring to IEP meeting–I have dozens and dozens of posts on preparing for an IEP meeting, from printable worksheets, what not to do….just poke around the site, you’ll love it, I promise!
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