IEP Meetings: Parents Should Have a Minimum of Three A Year
The special education law states that all special education students are required to have a minimum of one IEP meeting per calendar year. Typically, schools prefer that this meeting occur at the end of the school year. However, just having the one meeting isn’t in your child’s best interest. Richard Kaplan Med., SP. Ed., founder of Resource Education Solutions recommends having a minimum of three IEP meetings per year.
An end-of-the-year IEP meeting is useful as a wrap-up meeting. It provides you, as parents, the opportunity to discuss in detail your child’s progress, teaching strategies, academic accommodations, services, and goals and objectives with the teachers and administration. Certainly the opportunity to look back over a school year and analyze how and why your child has progressed to where they are is invaluable. It’s also a powerful opportunity to brain storm and discuss your concerns and questions with professionals who have spent many months teaching your child. This productive learning experience also provides you with ideas of how to best to maximize the summer break.
But how does the knowledge and information gleaned from one an end-of-the-year IEP meeting help the new teachers that will be teaching your child the next school year? You most likely won’t know these teachers, and they won’t know your child. So there are many questions you may be pondering, such as:
- How does the culmination of last year’s IEP meeting help my child’s new teachers?
- Will the teachers who taught my child last year discuss his or her needs and strengths with the new teachers?
- Do the new teachers even know my child has an IEP? If so, when will they get around to reading it?
- When will my child’s teachers let me know they understand what to do and are on target to help my child?
- Are all the supports and services my child needs in place?
Often, as the school year starts, you won’t have the answers to these questions. And your child’s teachers don’t have to communicate anything until the next IEP meeting, which is typically months away. Sadly, this is how students fall through the cracks. And too often, valuable time is wasted.
This is why it’s highly recommended that you always schedule an IEP meeting at the beginning of a new school year.
You can help set the tone and expectations for the school year with all your child’s teachers and the administration by working together from the outset. Invite a teacher from the previous year to attend the beginning-of-the-year IEP meeting. Just imagine how informative that would be! You will have a teacher who can speak to and provide answers for the questions and concerns we mentioned earlier.
After you’ve had a beginning-of-the-year IEP meeting, you’ll also want to schedule a mid-year one. This will allow both you and the teachers an opportunity to monitor and assess, halfway through the year, how your child is progressing and what, if any, adjustments need to me made. These adjustments can then be implemented for the second half of the school year. If you wait until the end of the year, it’s too late to make the necessary adjustments, like adding or removing goals, or increasing or decreasing services and assessments. The mid-year meeting is also a great opportunity to modify and/or make accommodations to the curriculum or testing methodology.
Remember that you as a parent have the right to have as many annual IEP meetings as you wish, and best practice is to have a minimum of three per year!