What is the format of the IEP or 504 meeting? I would like to know what to expect.
After a child is found eligible for special education and related services, a meeting must be held within 30 days to develop the IEP. An IEP or a Section 504 meeting can be intimidating. It can run as long as three hours. Each school district handles things differently, but usually teachers, principal, school psychologist, guidance counselors, special education teachers, school nurse, and others directly affected by the IEP or Section 504 will attend.
For an IEP, parents are required by law to be present; they are an important part of the team. For a Section 504, parents are encouraged to be involved, but it is not mandatory for them to attend. Your child, if old enough, is also encouraged to attend the meetings. You can bring an education advocate or a friend to provide moral support and take careful notes.
As a rule, you will catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Parents should bring a smile to the meeting, and maybe a tray of cookies, to set the right tone.
At the beginning, everyone will sign an attendance sheet to create a record of who was there. Say, “I will need a copy of that sheet, please.” Look at it to see whose name is not legible and ask him or her to spell it for you. Or you can pass around your own attendance sheet. That sends a clear signal to the group that you have been counseled and that, if you can’t agree on accommodations, there will be a hearing. You are saying, “I know my rights.” It indicates that you have knowledge and expertise.
The goal for an IEP or a 504 meeting is for the parent and school to agree on accommodations and to prepare and sign the IEP or 504 Plan documents, although things don’t always work out that way. The team in the room will suggest accommodations that they think will work best for your child. You should bring in a written list of accommodations that you have researched.
Remember that the school’s list of accommodations are ones that they have given to other students, that have worked before, and that they feel might work with your child. But you know your child better than anyone else. Therefore, you should discuss with the team the accommodations you have devised. If those are agreed to by the school, that’s great. If not, it’s a conversation to be had.
Next: When to Sign the IEP