8 Tips for Getting the Most Out of an IEP/504 Meeting
When you have a child with special needs, you know two things unequivocally: there is nothing you wouldn’t do for your child and IEP/504 Meetings can be exhausting, frustrating and stressful.
However, you have the power to get what you need for your child when you meet with the Child Study Team by following these specific tips offered by Lenore Boyarin, Esq., Of Counsel to Sussan Greenwald & Wesler, special education attorneys.
- Don’t come to the meeting with too many questions so you fail to focus on your goals. Be mindful of time and make sure you cover the questions you truly need the answers to.
- Don’t argue over misunderstandings about polices. Ask for the written documents and move on.
- Don’t get upset about communication breakdowns. Simply establish an acceptable and appropriate school-home communication strategy to avoid miscommunication.
- Never take legal advice from anyone but an experienced lawyer who is qualified to discuss special education.
“The members of the Child Study Team are likely well-meaning, but they are not lawyers,” said Boyarin. “Unfortunately, these people are quick to offer advice and, all too often, that advice leads to irreversible errors.”
- Always focus on the goals of the IEP or 504 Meeting. Remember why you are there and don’t forget it. You are there to make sure your child receives an appropriate educational plan.
- Don’t get sidelined by discussion of your child’s behaviors. Get the facts. Insist the Child Study Team provide data and makes note of the information you are sharing with them.
- Always ask for timeline progress. All too often, the Child Study Team will discuss the present: your child is doing great, making good progress, etc. Do not accept subjective reporting of present levels.“You need to understanding growth over time. Where was Johnny day one? Where is he now,” suggested Boyarin, noting parents should ask for grade level equivalents or percentiles and standardized scores whenever possible.
Moreover, per SCOTUS, progress has to be “appropriately ambitious.” Therefore, for a student who is both intellectually gifted and dyslexic, for example, the Average range is not ambitious!
- Make sure you insist on SMART Goals. Ever heard of winning the battle but losing the war? Getting an IEP that doesn’t outline SMART Goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Repeatable and Time Sensitive) fails to be meaningful in the long run.”“Remember, an IEP is not a performance contract and goals need not be 100% achieved in the year written, but progress has to be meaningful for the student,” Boyarin added.
Sussan Greenwald & Wesler has been serving the needs of families with children with disabilities and special needs for decades. We are experienced, skilled and compassionate and we are focused on helping you help your child succeed in school and life. Please contact our office at 609-409-3500 to speak with an attorney about any special education-related issue. We are here for you.