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.

Image of four people holding hands


These can be:

  • a friend or other family member
  • another caregiver for your child
  • an outside service provider
  • anyone else you trust, and who knows your child



Record the 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


Click the boxes below to learn more about who advocates are and what they do:


Who are special education advocates? 

  • Advocates are experienced professionals who help families work with their schools.

  • There is no official certification for advocates in Massachusetts, but a good one will have done some training with an organization like the Federation for Children with Special Needs. (This link will open in a new tab or at the bottom of your screen.)

  • Some advocates are parents who have gone through the special ed system, or former special education teachers. Usually they are not lawyers, but they are trained 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 professional

Source: FCSN

Here's what you can do:

  1. Contact the Federation for Children with Special Needs, and ask to speak to an Information Specialist. The Federation provides training for advocates in your local area.Their number is1-800-331-0688 (toll-free) or 617-236-7210

  2. Contact your district's Special Education Parent Advisory Council for advice about local advocates. You can also click the link at the bottom of the page to download a list of advocates from the Special Needs Advocacy Network (SPAN).

Before you hire an advocate:

  • Make sure they are experienced, know about your child's school district and disability, and that they take the time to get to know your family

  • Ask about their fees. Advocates in Massachusetts usually charge about $60-90 per hour

  • Ask for references from other families they have worked with

  • Ask for a written agreement outlining their responsibilities and fees


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.


Do you speak a different language? Know you rights! Image of the word language written in several different languages

  • You have a right to get all information in your own language! This means paperwork and meetings.
  • Ask for an interpreter or translated notices if you need them!


Source: FCSN