Spring is IEP time
Tuesday, April 01, 2003
Parents critical in reviewing special education plans
Spring brings warm weather, more sunshine and, for parents of special education students, the state-mandated annual review of Individualized Education Plans or IEPS.
Parents can be intimidated when they find themselves facing a team of experts who are mapping out the strategy for their child’s education. But parents or guardians need to remember they are the experts on their child and the best and strongest advocates for the student. They are also an equal member of the special education team.
Preparation is the key to ensuring the education plan meets your child’s unique needs in the next school year. Use the following checklist to prepare for this annual meeting:
• Review your child’s current and past Individualized Educational Program.
• Look at the goals and objectives as well as the quarterly progress reports.
• Ask yourself: Is my child making progress? Has my child mastered any of the goals?
• Make a list of the areas where your child seems to continually struggle and bring it to the meeting.
• Check for the parent advocacy group in your area and talk to other parents.
• Be an equal partner in the meeting. If you do not understand the discussion, get clarification.
• If your child is 14 or older, the team will discuss a transition plan. Ask your child and yourself, “What do you anticipate will be your child’s future after high school? Work? College—two or four year? Trade school?”
And, finally, don’t wait until the annual conference if you have questions or concerns. Contact the special education teacher at your child’s school. It is their responsibility to make you as comfortable as possible with your child’s services.
For more information, try these sites and their links: www.fcsn.org, www.sea-oprf.org or www.wrightslaw.com, where you can find books about IEPs.
-- Meg Schnoor, director of special services, District 158 in the Fox Valley