Plan for the support you need at the meeting

Here are 3 ways to help make it a successful meeting:

For each of these, tell the IEP team a few days before the meeting

Bring supporters

If you need some moral support, someone to help you describe your child's needs, or just someone to help take notes, you can bring supporters with you to the IEP meeting.

These can be: image of for people holding hands

  • a friend or other family member

  • another caregiver for your child

  • an outside service provider

  • anyone else you trust, who knows your child

 

Some families choose to hire a special education advocate to help prepare for IEP meeting. This is usually only if they expect a problem working with the school.

 

Click the box below to learn more about special education advocates:

Who are special education advocates? 

  • They are experienced professionals who help families work with their schools. They can help you to stand up for what you need.

  • Some advocates are parents who have gone through the special education system. Some are former special education teachers. Usually they are not lawyers, but they are trained to know when to refer you to a lawyer.

  • There is no official certification for advocates, but a good one will have done some training with an organization like Families Helping Families or the Advocacy Center. They are trained to help negotiate and to know when to refer you to a lawyer.

A good advocate:

  • Is well-trained and knows the law

  • Understands disabilities

  • Understands your school system

  • Takes time to know your child

  • Empowers you

  • Acts professionally

If you want to talk to an advocate, ask your school district contact to put you in touch with one. Or ask Families Helping Families.

You can also use databases from COPAA and Wrightslaw to find advocates near you.*

Make sure to ask about cost. Some advocates work for free or on a sliding scale, others charge a fee.

*We do not endorse any of the providers listed on these databases.

Sources: Families Helping Families, Advocacy LA

Record the IEP meeting

You may want to record the IEP meeting.

This will help you review what happens, and can prove later what you agreed on. Image of a phone with the recording app open

  • You can use your mobile phone's voice recording app

  • Make sure it's on airplane mode so it doesn't get interrupted by an incoming call or text

  • Tell the Team at least a day before that you'll be recording the meeting

Ask for an interpreter if you need one

  • The school is required to provide this.

  • If you need an interpreter, ask the team as far ahead of the meeting as possible.

  • Then call a day or two before to confirm.

Image of a globe with the word 'language' translated into several languages beside the text 'Do you speak a different language? Know your rights. You have the right to get all the information in your own language. This means paperwork and meetings. Ask for an interpreter or translated notices if you need them!'

Source: Federation for Children with Special Needs

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