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The Importance of Parent Participation in Individualized Education Program (IEP) Meetings

June 25, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 204

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that parents be provided with an opportunity to participate in discussions about their child's education. The school district is required to work with the parent to find a mutually agreed upon time and location for the meeting. If the parent cannot find a way to meet with the team in person a conference call may be used. It is important to note that participation is an active process, not one that only entails listening and agreeing to what the school district employees have previously decided.

Many parents are unaware of the fact that the law states that the school district must attempt to find a meeting time that is mutually agreed upon. It has been my experience, that most parents receive a letter from the school district informing them of when an IEP meeting is scheduled with no prior discussion with the parent regarding their scheduling preferences. If the meeting is scheduled at a time that is not convenient for you, remember that you have the right to ask for the meeting to be changed so you can be in attendance.

If there is no way for the parent to attend the meeting in a person the meeting can be conducted via a phone conference. I want to highly discourage you from using this format of attendance, if at all possible. It has been my experience in meetings where the parent is not physically present that many sections of the IEP are skipped and that staff members who should be in attendance for the whole meeting, sign in, say their piece and then leave the room without the parent ever knowing. More importantly, I find that it is very hard for the parent to be an active participant when they are on the phone; and usually do not even have a copy of the draft document in their possession. The intent of the law is for the parent to actively provide pertinent information about their child, their child's abilities, their child's needs and their child's overall educational experience in IEP meetings.

I feel very strongly that for children with special needs to be successful in school there needs to be a collaborative approach to creating quality IEPs. Parents need to share their insights, struggles, triumphs, wishes and goals with the team of educators. Parents should not be sitting back as passive members of the team. Parents should not be solely listening to the educators, accepting the draft document as the final draft, signing their agreement to an educational plan that they do not whole-heartedly agree with. Parents need to know that it is their right, by law, to be an active participant in IEP meetings and to help design all aspects of the IEP. Anything that has been put into the draft IEP by school personnel can be amended or taken out and you may ask for other information to be added.

Remember that when parents and schools who work together as a team to educate children the quality of education tends to be higher. This collaboration is even more critical in educating children with special needs. To learn more about parental rights and advocating for your child with special needs, please visit my site.

Source: EzineArticles
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