The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act recognizes the vital role parents play in developing a student’s education plan, deeming them equal partners in the process with the school and school district.
But sometimes disagreements about a child’s needs can arise. The school-based part of the team may believe a child no longer needs some or all services, while parents or others outside of the school working with the child might see things differently.
That’s where IEP meetings can be tricky. Because if parents have one perspective about a child’s needs, but the school has another, in IEP meetings parents can end up feeling reluctant or even defensive about sharing their views. And in any group setting, being the lone holdout is stressful, particularly when the issue at stake is your child’s access to a meaningful education.
Special Education Pro Tip – Bring a friend. By law, parents may include, as part of the IEP team “other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the child.” If you’re not sure of the direction your child’s IEP team might take, if you’re concerned your views may not receive proper consideration, or if you just want someone there to help you stay calm and focused, consider taking a friend to your IEP meeting. It’s OK if that person isn’t a paid professional, so long as they know your child and understand their needs.
Note that as a courtesy, you should let the IEP team know in advance that you’re bringing someone to the meeting.