The IEP team must include:
- the student's parent(s) or guardian(s),
- a special education teacher,
- at least one regular education teacher,
- a representative of the school or district who is knowledgeable about the availability of school resources, and
- an individual who can interpret the instructional implications of the child's evaluation results (such as the school psychologist).
"Can I bring someone with me to an IEP meeting?"
The parent may also bring other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the child.
The parent may invite professionals who have worked with or assessed the child, or someone to assist the parent in advocating for their child's needs, such as a parent advocate.
Many parents choose to bring at least one other person with them to IEP meetings because meeting with such a large group of school personnel can be intimidating to parents.
Parents are considered to be full and equal members of the IEP team, along with school personnel.
"What is my role in the IEP meeting?"
Parents are crucial members of the team because they have unique knowledge of their child's strengths and needs.
Parents have the right to be involved in meetings that discuss the identification, evaluation, IEP development and educational placement of their children.
They also have the right to ask questions, dispute points, and request modifications to the plan
"What if I cannot attend an IEP meeting the school wants to schedule?"
The school must make a significant effort to ensure that one or both of the parents are present at each IEP team meeting. If parents are unable to attend, the school must be able to show that due diligence was made to enable the parents to attend, including notifying the parents early enough that they have an opportunity to attend, scheduling the meeting at a mutually agreed on time and place, and offering alternative means of participation, such as a phone conference.
"What is the school responsible for?"
The school must also take whatever action is necessary to ensure that the parent understands the proceedings of IEP team meetings, including arranging for an interpreter for parents who are deaf or whose native language is not English.
School personnel have an obligation to provide parents with a Procedural Safeguards Notice, which must include an explanation of all of the procedural safeguards built into IDEA.
In addition, the information must be in understandable language and in the native language of the parent.
A copy of the Procedural Safeguards Notice must be presented at the IEP meeting.
Parents must sign that they were given a copy.
Schools must give parents a copy of the child's IEP at no cost to the parent.
"What happens at an IEP meeting?"
Early in your child's special education experience, IEP meetings will focus on arranging for testing, giving a classification, and assessing needs.
As your child moves through the special education system, annual IEP meetings will involve assessments of progress and the planning of the following year's program.
Your child's teacher and therapists will read their reports, and the case manager will propose changes to the program or keeping things as is.
There may be discussion of changing classifications, adding or subtracting services, moving the child into a different type of classroom, behavior plans and academic goals.