4 Proactive Dragon Slaying Tips for IEP Meetings, to Empower Your Advocacy!

Are you the parent of a child with Autism, or another disability who receives special education services? Do you become overwhelmed during the IEP process, and would like to learn a few tips to help you? Are you tired of the lies and deceptions being told to you by special educators? Then this is the article for you—4 proactive advocacy tips (dragon slaying tips) to empower you in IEP meetings and afterward!

1. Try and see if you can have a friend or relative attend the meeting with you (bring someone who knows how to write fast and take good notes). This is for a couple of reasons: a. the person can take in-depth notes about what is being said and who is saying it, and b. the person can be a witness in the future, if a dispute develops between yourself and special education professionals.

2. Tape record the meeting so that you can listen to the tape after the meeting, and fill in your notes (in case you missed something). Also, CD’s of IEP meetings may be used in due process hearings (if allowed by your state).

3. Bring a written list of issues that need to be discussed (do not forget to add items from an independent educational evaluation (IEE). By the issue write yes or no and leave a little bit of space. This way you can document if the school agrees to provide the service or not, and jot down specific things that they say during the meeting (don’t forget to add who said it).

4. Write an IEP summary letter after the meeting (do not forget to date the letter and sign it also), documenting what happened during the meeting. You should include discussions not in the notes, special education professional’s attitudes, and specific comments made by staff (to include their names). I have begun doing this recently in my advocacy and find it very helpful because I can include things not in the IEP document that should be—-but now the letter is in the child’s educational record!

Recently at the end of a meeting one of the school staff said something that would help the parents in their quest for their son to receive scientifically research based reading instruction. I immediately grabbed a piece of paper and wrote down what was said and who said it (the mother gave me funny looks because she did not know what was said or that I was writing it down). In the IEP summary letter I put this information and I believe that it was helpful in my advocacy! When the school answered the letter, they never mentioned what was said, or denied that the educator said it, so I was home free! Always document when special education professionals say something that can support your advocacy!

Good luck—remember your child is depending on you!

4 Tips If Your Special Education Advocate is Banned From IEP Meetings

Are you a parent or advocate who helps children with autism or another disability, receive special education services? Have you been told that you can not attend IEP meetings with parents in a certain district? Would you like to learn a few tips on how to handle this situation? This article will give you 4 tips to use if this situation happens to you or an advocate that you work with.

The Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) states that parents have the right to have people help them, who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the student. IDEA also states that parents have the right to be equal participants, in their child’s IEP process! If parents ask an advocate to come to a meeting with them, the advocate is to be considered an IEP team member.

OSEP agrees with this and issued a memorandum on January 15, 2004 clarifying an advocate’s role at an IEP meeting. It states that: Since the parent has invited the advocate to the IEP meeting, this person is considered to be an IEP team member and may assume an active role in the student’s IEP. Some advocates are being banned from student’s IEP meetings because they are considered divisive! Below are 4 Tips to use if this happens to you:

Tip 1: If your advocate is banned from an IEP meeting, send a letter to your school district asking for the state and federal law that allows them to do this. Attach to the letter any evidence that you have that the advocate was actually banned (Letter, E mail etc). Ask for a response within 10 days.

Tip 2: In the same letter, state that according to IDEA you have the right to have people at the IEP meeting that have knowledge or special expertise regarding your child. For Example: Your advocate has worked with your child for over a year and understands their needs, or has special training in the disability that your child has.

Tip 3: Also state that: IDEA requires school districts to develop an IEP for each child with a disability, with parents playing a significant role in this process. Also, that for you to do this you require the help of a qualified advocate!

Tip 4: Send a complaint to your state board of education stating that the school district is violating IDEA by banning your advocate from attending IEP meetings. The actual violations are:

A. School district is preventing you from having a person who has knowledge or special expertise on your child, at the IEP meeting.

B. School district is preventing you from being an equal participant, and playing a significant role in the IEP process.

C. School district cannot give you any specific state or federal law that states they have the right to ban certain advocates.

Parents have the right to bring the advocate of their choice to their child’s IEP meetings. School districts cannot ban an advocate from coming! If this happens to you, stand up to the special education personnel for the benefit of your child’s education.