AS THE SCHOOL YEAR MOVES ALONG AND “IEP SEASON” DRAWS NEAR, HERE ARE the top 5 THINGS TO DISCUSS AT YOUR NEXT IEP MEETING (and yes, this blog was written in the wake of the COVID19 shutdown!)
1. Recovery services and ESY:
Discuss your child’s progress this school year and in particular, talk about your child’s struggles related to virtual instruction and reduced services. Recovery services can be offered to children who went without services during the shutdown in the spring and/or who did not receive appropriate services due to the virtual learning environment. Extended school year services should be discussed if your child did not regain skills once he/she returned to school.
2. Transition services for children 14 and older:
Transition goals should be just as robust as your child’s other goals. They should not be an afterthought and they should not be generic. One size does not fit all and as with the rest of your child’s IEP, this section needs to be individualized. While your child has been at home, you may have noticed some areas of concern in their independent living skills or weaknesses that will impact his/her future employment. Make sure to bring those concerns to the forefront.
3. Present levels of performance (PLOP):
Although this school year has looked different than any other school year, that does not excuse the district from collecting data to support your child’s goals. Where is your child starting (baseline data)? Where are their skills compared to his/her same-aged peers? Did they meet their goals from the last IEP? Why do they need this goal to be successful? Your child’s PLOP should contain detailed data (not just observations) that give you a starting point from where the benchmarks will be measured.
4. Specially designed instruction (SDI):
Are your child’s minutes appropriate for their level of weakness? Do those minutes need to be increased to provide recovery services? Look back to your child’s previous IEP and what his/her SDI looked like then. Also, look at the progress reports and the progress that was (or was not) made. If adequate progress was not made last year and the district is proposing the same amount of minutes, or the same location of services, ask for more.
5. Least restrictive environment (LRE):
The discussion of LRE is such an important one, yet I see time and time again that districts gloss over this section of the IEP. In conjunction with your child’s SDI, ensure that your child is receiving their specially designed instruction in a location that will allow for the best opportunity for growth.
Some additional caveats to get you ready for your child’s IEP meeting and to walk into that room with confidence:
Be sure to request a copy of the IEP before the meeting so you have time to read through the information, process it, and make notes. Feel free to email your child’s intervention specialist before the meeting with your input. I find that an IEP meeting is far more fruitful when open discussions can occur and everyone is aware of certain points that really need to be explored. Review your child’s previous IEP and progress reports. This information will give you a better insight into what your child needs moving forward. Lastly, take a deep breath and take a time out if you need one. You got this!
Danielle Randolph, M.Ed., S.Ed. is a special education advocate with the law firm of Albeit Weiker, LLP.
Call 614-745-2001 or visit our website to talk further.