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					Title:
The Special Education IEP and the Parent Underdog

Word Count:
791

Summary:
Are you a parent of a child with a learning disability? The deck is
stacked against you for achieving a quality, special education IEP. Learn
how to get the best possible program for your child.


Keywords:
individualized education program, special education, learning disability


Article Body:
Are you a parent of a child with a learning disability? The deck is
stacked against you for achieving a quality, special education IEP. Learn
how to get the best possible program for your child.

What is an IEP ?
The special education IEP (Individualized Education Program) process was
created by the Federal law called IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities
Education Act) to ensure that students with learning disabilities would
receive an appropriate education. The IEP process can be confusing,
stressful, and sometimes terrifying to parents. The process comes to a
head at the IEP meeting, so this is often the most stressful part of the
IEP process.

Why is this process so difficult for parents? Through a    series of 3
articles, we’ll look at the IEP process, why the deck is   stacked against
parents, steps to take to even the odds, the IEP success   method to follow
for an effective IEP meeting, and how to prepare for IEP   911.

What are the IEP Process Steps?
Identify that a problem exists and it cannot be solved
Educate yourself about the IEP process
Assess and test the student
Analyze the test results
Prepare for the meeting / get and give input in advance
Meet to review information and create (or deny) an IEP
Evaluate the plan and alternatives
Execute the plan or alternative
Negotiate changes
Monitor progress
Manage transitions
Repeat the process, at least annually

The IEP - Why are Parents at a disadvantage?
1. You are usually outnumbered.
2. The other attendees are speaking a language that is difficult for you
to understand-educationese, legalese, and medicalese.
3. Your child is one of many students. This is their job, but your
child. This sets you up for emotional reactions.
4. Because you are emotionally involved, it is harder to be objective.
You feel you have more to lose; it’s easy to become defensive or lose
your temper.
5. The people sitting across from you are people you learned to respect,
obey, and / or fear as a child. Principals, medical people, teachers.
You may not see yourself as an equal.
6. You are asking for something. It is implied that anything you ask for
will take away from another student.
7. Some of these people attend dozens of IEP meetings every month. You
may go to one or two a year. They have experience on their side.
8. The school personnel earn a salary while they attend these meetings.
You may give up some salary to attend.
9. The school district has an attorney. You may know of an attorney!
10. You may not be sure what is “wrong” with your child.
11. You have no way of judging if the school’s recommendations will help
your child or not.
12. If your child attends the meeting, hearing certain things may upset
your child, then you.
13. If the school rejects the IEP, you may feel as if you have just lost
your lifeline.
14. If you have argued before, threatened legal action, complained about
an IEP and on and on, the relationship inside the room might have moved
over to confrontational or adversarial. The above are true even if you
are in a cooperative, collaborative meeting and all working together.
You can continue the list from here if you have moved over to an
adversarial meeting!

How do you even the odds?
1. You need to prepare for the IEP meeting and review test results before
the meeting.
2. You need to study negotiating before the meeting.
3. You need to be organized and to have everything written down.
4. You need to bring a short list of topics you want to discuss such as a
particular teacher / problem, etc.
5. You need to come ready with a written plan (See Part II and III).
6. You need to cite or quote the evidence and experts as proof of the
validity or correctness of your plan and follow the IEP Success Method in
Part II.
7. You need to understand the legal basis for what you are asking for.
8. If the meeting focuses on negatives, you need to redirect the meeting
by pointing out your child’s strengths. Discuss successes your child had
outside of school.
9. You need to stay calm and bring someone with you to take notes so you
can focus on the meeting.
10. If necessary, you need to bring an advocate or a relative with you
who can be less emotional but is acquainted with your child.
11. If you are confused or not happy with the entire IEP, you need to
remain calm and state that you need time to review the IEP before you
sign.
12. If there is any area you are unsure of, you need to postpone
decisions you are unsure of until you do the research.
Next: Part II will discuss the special education IEP Success Method and
IEP Meeting Mottos.

				
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