If your child requires special education at an Illinois public school, the individualized education program (IEP) will guide the accommodations they receive to promote success. During an IEP meeting, the assigned IEP team will determine whether your child meets the eligibility requirements for special education services. If the answer is yes, the team develops the IEP document either at that meeting or a second meeting with the involvement of the parent and student.
Under the federal Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, an IEP meeting must occur within 30 days of determining eligibility for special education. In this guide, we’ll help you prepare for your IEP meeting so you can act as an advocate for your child’s education.
Who Comes to the IEP Meeting?
You and your child are critical members of the IEP team, along with your child’s classroom teacher and special education teacher. A representative of the school district also attends the meeting. Depending on your child’s needs, other professionals may participate in the IEP meeting, including their speech therapist, psychologist, occupational therapist, vision specialist, hearing specialist, special needs educator, physical therapist, or other specialty health and education providers.
According to the Illinois State Board of Education, you can have a professional IEP facilitator at your meeting. This person can help ensure that the whole team participates collaboratively, resolving conflicts of opinion by serving as a neutral party. Parents and school districts can take advantage of this free state service but may have to pay related fees, such as mileage or meals for the facilitator. The school district must legally provide a language translator if you need one to understand and communicate with the team.
What Happens During the IEP Meeting?
First, the team will review the evaluation reports your child’s special education evaluation team provides. You’ll discuss whether you agree with the results. If you do not agree, the meeting gives you a chance to discuss the issues you have with the report.
Next, the group will determine whether the evaluation results reflect eligibility for special education. Your child may be placed into at least one eligibility category, depending on their needs. You should ask the IEP team any questions you have about your child’s eligibility category.
If the evaluation does not indicate that your child needs special education services, the team may discuss other available community resources and refer you to appropriate programs. If your child is eligible, the next step is to write the IEP, either at the initial meeting or a separate subsequent meeting within 30 days.
The remainder of the IEP meeting will cover these areas of your child’s IEP:
- Their current academic performance and how their disability influences their ability to progress in the education setting.
- Services your child will receive to address functional limitations, such as supportive personnel; programmatic changes; assistive technology, such as communicative devices; and other forms of supplemental aid.
- Information about when these services will start, when they’ll end, how often they’ll occur, and where they’ll take place.
- Daily schedule for your child, including the amount of time spent participating separately from students without disabilities.
- Details about whether your child will participate in district and state assessments and any modifications needed if they’ll be taking these exams.
- Goals for the child’s upcoming school year, which will be reviewed and updated annually.
- Performance metrics and benchmarks that your child’s IEP team will use to evaluate progress toward meeting yearly objectives.
Finally, the team will discuss any special factors that apply to your child’s IEP, which may include:
- Behavioral supports and strategies if their behavior affects their ability or their classmates’ ability to learn.
- Support for communication needs.
- Opportunities for students who are deaf to communicate directly with classmates and teachers in their preferred method, such as American Sign Language.
- Language learning needs if your child has limited ability to speak English.
- Use of Braille for instruction if your child is visually impaired or blind.
- Need for assistive technology.
- Plans for transitioning from the public education system if your child is 16 or older.
Before leaving the meeting, you’ll review the draft IEP the team has created. You’ll be asked to sign off on the plan, but you can also decline to sign if you or your child disagrees with any aspect of the IEP.
How Should My Child and I Prepare For the IEP Meeting?
You can request a copy of the evaluation reports before the IEP meeting. Read it in advance and write down questions you and your child have for the IEP team so you can get the answers you need during the meeting.
The meeting allows you to share your observations as a parent so the team has a comprehensive picture of your child and their abilities. You may want to note the challenges your child has, along with the things they do well, so the IEP plan reflects your point of view.
You or your child may have ideas about the accommodations that would be helpful. Prepare to advocate for these solutions and discuss how they will support your child’s education.
What Should I Bring to the IEP Meeting?
Bring the notes and questions you prepared in advance of the IEP meeting. It’s a good idea to have a way to take notes at the meeting, whether you bring a laptop or rely on pen and paper. You should also bring any prior IEP developed for your child (from another school district, for example).
Many parents create an IEP binder to keep all their child’s documents in one place. You may also want to bring an audio recorder to create a record of the meeting rather than taking paper notes.
Get the Support You Need for Your Child’s IEP
The team at NeuroHealth Arlington Heights can help you advocate for your child in the academic setting. <a href=”https://neurohealthah.com/contact-us/”>Contact us today to make an appointment for a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation so you can help your student get on the path toward success at school.
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