STEP FIVE - ENDING AN IEP MEETING
You are now at the crucial part of all your hard work - the signing of the IEP. Before the we get to that part, let's make sure you have every item documented regarding your concerns. How do you make sure of this - read everything!!!!
If you have a meeting that is using a laptop and a screen, make sure the person typing the minutes of the meeting has this page projected on the screen for you to read as s/he types. The font of the typing can be made larger so it can be read. This is very important because many IEPs sometimes have parent comments disappear or the numbers for minutes of services can somehow be mistyped.
On this page, make sure you document your concerns and comments regarding your child's learning and services. If you are told this is not the place to write that down, DON'T BELIEVE THEM!!!!!!! You can have it written down. Make sure what they write and how they write it. They will tell you that you can add an additional page to the IEP document which will be attached to the IEP, but this may get misplaced. They will tell you that you have a space in the IEP document to document your concerns. This is page 10 - Section Q - Parent Participation and Consent. This is true and I always personally type in my own comments. I take over the laptop and type. Don't be bashful. Don't be afraid. The paperwork is overwhelming, but the more involved you are in contributing, the more experience you will gain for the next IEP and the next and the next and the next.
The district official will now end the meeting with "their offer of FAPE" (rhymes with ape). This offer should have every service discussed and agreed upon. This offer will state:
- Time Period Remainder of school year - Extended School Year ( ESY ) and beginning of the next school year
- School - Neighborhood school,- Non-public school or out of neighborhood. You can request an out of neighborhood school because you are placing your child in an environment that places your child in the least restrictive environment and a hostile free environment.
- Program - Special Day Class - Full Inclusion - ESY. This will also include DIS (District Instructed Services ) such as Speech and the total times your child will receive the service and for how many minutes per month.
- Any Non-Public Agency services ( NPA ).
- Continuation of other services mentioned during meeting.
- Accommodations - Curriculum - Adult Assistance ( AA ) - Transportation - Seating - Testing.
And anything else you have all agreed upon or have come to consensus. Coming to consensus is not an easy task with people who are receiving a paycheck from the District. Employment affects consensus.
- A middle school teacher told me at an IEP meeting he could not agree with me because the District might fire him.
- A middle school counselor who wrote a letter of recommendation for Reyna to transistion to an out-of-area high school refused to back her recommendation because she was the "administrative designee" at the IEP meeting and the District wanted Reyna to go to her home school.
- An elementary school teacher motioned Andy and I to the back of her classroom to discuss the IEP because the principal at the school was known to eavesdrop over the classroom intercoms.
Hopefully, you will never need to deal with any intimidation tactics. Hopefully, your IEP meeting was repectful and thorough. Hopefully, the team worked as a team and now have the IEP Contract - and this is important - for you to agree to and sign. REMEMBER, THE COMPLETED IEP FORM IS A CONTRACT AND SHOULD BE IMPLEMENTED AS SOON AS IT IS AGREED UPON. If any part of this contract is not implemented, it is grounds for due process. Due process, in my viewpoint, means it is your right to complaint and be heard.
If all is great. Everything in the offer of FAPE is what you and the team discussed and agreed upon, sign it and pat yourself on the back. Thank the team for their effort and support. However, I have never signed an IEP until I have taken it home and sat down to review all pages and notes. If it is accurate, it is signed and returned. There have been a few occasions when items were not worded as we agreed and I had to call the district program specialist. Any concerns should be cleaned up immediately. Once the IEP is signed, it is CLOSED. No one can go in a change anything unless there is an amendment. This is an acceptable means of tweeking the IEP, however the team does have to meet to amend the IEP.
We once had a teacher at Park Western approach us in the parking lot of the school to sign an amendment because she did not want to lose one of her classroom aides. She explained that Rey was working very well on his own, so she wanted his Adult Assistant to be removed. She adamantly explained that if Rey ever had any behavioral issues arise, we would be able to meet and re-instate his A.A. So, like trusting lambs, we signed the amendment in the parking lot. Well, when Rey started up with his behaviors, she refused to cooperate in re-instating his A.A. Again, our child's learning was not a priority. We filed a complaint with the State Department of Education and the teacher became much more cooperative.
So, don't sign the IEP unless you are absolutely, positively sure this is exactly what everyone agreed to. But all is great, sign Page 10. And fill out the evaluation form regarding the IEP so your experience is documented. Fill it out right away and you can send it through school mail in the main office or regular mail, if you chooose to.....JUST FILL IT OUT. The district uses this info to present the information to the Parent Council every year.