Here's what to expect:
- There will be a Team of people at the meeting who will be a part of your child's plan.
- They will go over the results of the evaluation and will make suggestions about what services your child may need.
- You will share your thoughts, concerns, and ideas with the Team.
- The Team will walk you through the IEP form. They should have given you a draft beforehand to look over.
- The IEP will say what services your child will get and how often.
- You will discuss the plan and make changes as needed.
- You will have to sign the IEP to accept it, but you don't need to do it at the meeting. You should always bring it home to review before signing.
- The process might be different from school to school
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Planning for your child's educational needs takes many people with different roles.
You, the parent, are an important team member. You know your child better than anyone else does!The rest of the team should have your child's best interests in mind. Their suggestions may not always be the same as yours, but it’s important that you all work together and see the process as a team effort.
The IEP Team should include:
- You, as the child's parent or guardian
- Your child (if over age 14)
- At least one classroom teacher
- At least one special education teacher
- Other specialists - for example, the school psychologist, social worker, occupational therapist, speech therapist, reading specialist, etc.
- Anyone else you or the school district wishes to invite. You may want to invite a caretaker, outside service provider, or special ed advocate. Tell the school district in advance if you are bringing someone else with you.
Source: MA DESE
Here's what you can do:
- Use your IEP binder. (Remember to bring it!) This has your list of questions, concerns, and important papers. Take notes to refer to later.
- Feel free to advocate for your child. Remember, no one knows your child as well as you do. It's OK to:
* Ask any questions you have.
* Ask the team to explain things that you don't understand.
* Ask to take a break if you need one. (The team knows that talking about your child's needs can be emotional!)
- Keep an open mind. Remember that everyone on the team should be working together for your child's best interests. Be open to discussing different opinions about what may work best.
Sources: Children's Law Center of MA, Federation for Children with Special Needs, MA DESE