Be on Alert for these phrases at your IEP Meeting.
You’re sitting in your IEP meeting. Things seem to be going well. Everyone is pleasant and there’s a constructive conversation. But your gut is telling you that something just isn’t quite right. But, how do you know?
Well, after having attended hundreds of IEP meetings, I can tell you that there are common themes. There are often things that are said and are, in most cases, well-intended. And, since IEP meetings are stressful and often fast-moving, it can be difficult to pinpoint a specific issue in realtime.
Here are some phrases you should be on the lookout for. And, how to handle them if it comes up.
7 Phrases you Never Want to Hear at an IEP Meeting.
- “Let’s just wait and see…” No, no, no. Because what this translates into is “let’s just wait and watch the skills gap widen between your child and his/her peers.” If this is said in your meeting, my recommended response is, “Thanks, but I’d prefer not to wait. If you are unable to address this at this time, just make note of that on the PWN. ” Data has shown that delaying services causes problems to worsen, called the Matthew effect.
- “We don’t do that here.” You’ve done your research and asked other parents. Finally, you find an idea or intervention that sounds like it may work for your child. But when you suggest it at the meeting, you’re told that it is not available for your child. This one comes up so often that I’ve dedicated an entire blog post of how to handle it. Click the link for more information.
- “We’ve never seen him do that at school.” Just one of the many examples of either gaslighting or invalidating parent concerns. Gee, big surprise, sometimes kids act differently at home than they do at school. And, is it so unreasonable to think that a child’s day at school may affect their home behavior? I mean, don’t we all sometimes have a bad day at work and then act differently at home? Even though we didn’t explode on our coworkers? If it happens to you: “Well, then I’m glad he is at least able to hold it together while he is here. However, I think that this behavior‘s antecedent is ABC, and I am formally requesting that we do XYZ to address it.” Follow up with everything in writing and ask for a PWN (link below).
- “He’s doing fine!” This phrase has many cousins. Things like “his grades are fine!” and “he’s doing well academically.” But, you know your child. And you know if they’re “doing fine” or not. Do not allow yourself to be bullied or coerced out of your concerns. There’s nothing a mom wants more than for her child to be fine. If our kids were doing fine, we wouldn’t be at this IEP meeting. Work at better defining your concerns and providing concrete examples.
- “Of course we’re going to work on fluency and comprehension…” The amount of kids who are being passed through our school system without being taught to read is just astounding. I just don’t understand it anymore. And, as a professional advocate, I’m losing patience with the schools who are saying this to my clients. You can take your “of course we’re going to teach fluency…” and go fly a kite. If my client is a struggling reader, I want to know what specific intervention you’re going to use, why, who is going to provide it and I want to see the protocols that are written for that intervention. If you’re truly meeting my client’s needs and “teaching fluency and comprehension” there shouldn’t be a need to refer to it in such vague terms.
- “Well, we can’t because….” Yes, yes they can. This is related to “we don’t do that here.” This is not school bashing. I have seen IEP teams do some really amazing things to provide what a child needs. Some real out of the box thinking. And, when it comes down to it, schools can do what they want. Ask them to show you where it says that in policy or regs.
- “I can’t make that decision, I have to ask….” A common stalling technique. But guess what? If there is no one at the meeting to make decisions and they have to ask another administrator, then there was no LEA at your IEP Meeting. Which means technically, there was no IEP team meeting, since not all mandated IEP team members were there. And, they’re out of compliance. “Oh, so you’re not the LEA at this meeting? Then who is? I guess we need to reschedule for when an LEA is available.”
Well, now you know. If this you hear this at an IEP meeting, go with your gut and pursue what your child needs.