I answer a lot of questions about IEPs. And, my advocate friends and I give a lot of guidance about what to ask for prior to and during an IEP meeting. And now I’m seeing a trend among parents…asking, “I had my IEP meeting today, now what?” Many parents don’t know what to expect after the IEP meeting.
It seems that many parents anticipate and prepare for the actual IEP meeting, and then are left with this feeling of not being resolved, or not knowing what to expect. Sound familiar?
Ok, well, let’s try to clear some of that up. Let’s go over what to expect after the IEP meeting.
Before the IEP meeting
Because I have to say it…you knew I was going to, right? But, ideally, the IEP meeting itself should not be the end-all, be-all of your child’s IEP process. Ideally, 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 participate 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.
During the IEP meeting
During an IEP meeting, discussion should really focus on a few topics.
Topics of an IEP meeting
- your child’s strengths
- your child’s areas of need
- addressing those areas of need by drafting goals
- deciding upon SDIs to help child meet goals
- ESY eligibility
- FBAs and Behavior Plans, if relevant
- how progress will be monitored going forward
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. And so on.
After the IEP meeting
I have said this a zillion times out loud and in texts, emails, and on social media. There is one super important, absolutely 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.
But, here is 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.
If you do not need to meet again, or that second meeting has taken place:
- Ask when you will receive 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. After that, I’d start emailing about it.
- 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 might also be 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 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.
- 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 for them 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, 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.