IEP Step 7: Prepare for Your IEP or 504 Meeting
How should I prepare for the IEP/504 Plan meeting with my child’s school? How can I increase the odds of getting the best accommodations for him?
You are the expert on your child. Let everyone at the meeting know that by taking the lead. Use information and documents from teachers and caretakers, as well as things you have observed, to make a profile of your child that you can hand to the attendees. Attach a photo of your child to the first page.
- Fast learner
- Good sense of humor
- High interest in computers and technology
2. LEARNING CHALLENGES
- Mild dyslexia
- Low frustration tolerance
3. PROBLEMS IN THE CLASSROOM
- Fidgety, difficulty staying seated for long periods of time
- Easily distracted, needs reminders to stay on track
- Difficulty when tasks are frustrating or disappointing
- Difficulty transitioning from one activity to another
- Difficulty with short-term memory
- May seem like he isn’t following instructions, usually results from poor memory or becoming distracted
- Problems taking tests in the allotted time
- Problems with spelling
4. ACCOMMODATIONS THAT WOULD HELP
- List accommodations that have helped your child in the past and that you think would address his academic challenges.
- Communication between parent and teacher is essential. Propose bi-weekly e-mails to check on progress or make the other aware of potential problems. Propose working on the same behavior, such as frustration tolerance, at home and at school, and making joint efforts to help find strategies that can be employed in both settings.
- You might want to include one or two goals at the end of the profile, areas in which you would like to see your child improve. These could address organization, independence, or preparing for tests. For example, you might state that you would like to see your child get better at writing down homework assignments. Work with the school to create steps toward the goals.
Should I compile other documents for the meeting and hand them out to all of the attendees?
Yes, bring your child’s report cards, doctors’ recommendations, and other documents. Some of the attendees did not see this information because they were not part of the assessment process. The following checklist should help:
1. Copies of the student’s most recent evaluation
2. Results of any outside testing
3. Reports and recommendations from doctors, therapists, or other medical professionals
4. Communications from teachers
5. Reports from outside tutors
You might be concerned about sharing too much information. Do you need to share your child’s entire history or his medical records? Don’t share anything you are uncomfortable with others knowing, but keep in mind that you may need to share additional information to back up your requests.
Ask the school in advance who will be attending the meeting, so you can make packets of your child’s profile and documentation for each attendee. Do not make extra copies of confidential information, such as your child’s medical records.
Finally, before the meeting, make an agenda checklist — a list of things you want to discuss. What services do you want? How often? Are there problems with anything in particular, like a teacher or another student? How will the school let you know how your child is doing? How often are they going to contact you? Is there a way for you to find out what his homework is going to be? Tick off each item as you get a satisfactory answer in the meeting; place a question mark next to ones that aren’t adequately answered.
Bring paper and a pen to the meeting to keep notes and to write down anything you want clarified.
Do I have to go to the meeting alone, or can I bring someone to help me?
You may enlist someone to attend the meeting with you — a good friend, a relative, or an education advocate. IEP and 504 meetings are tough on parents, sometimes leaving them in tears. It’s good to have an ally who can take careful notes: “Mrs. Smith said such and such” or “Mr. Jones said this and this.” Otherwise, you will forget some important points. You have the right to tape-record the meeting, but you should understand that making the request sometimes makes school officials defensive.