The Initial IEP Meeting

Last month we discussed the IEP evaluation process as well as common Special Needs lingo that you would need to understand your initial IEP meeting.  An initial IEP (the first one) must be in place within 30 days of the evaluation meeting determining eligibility. Special education teachers often use the term “IEP” interchangeably to mean the formal document and the meeting in which it is discussed. 

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) allows educators to tailor an educational plan for the child so that he or she can reach his or her full potential. That being said, the decisions for how to tailor the education of a special needs child is discussed as a team at the IEP meetings. The first – or initial – meeting can be the most stressful as parents and teachers navigate what is best for the child. Here are somethings to expect at the first IEP meeting. 

  • Attendance – Who will be at the meeting for your child? Every IEP meeting must have in attendance the special education teacher, district representative (often an administrator, but not required to be), someone to interpret test data, and a general education teacher. Additional members of the school community such as occupational therapists, speech therapists, physical therapists and psychologists could also be in attendance.  Each person will sign in to document the meeting.
  • Testing Results – During the initial meeting there will be lengthy discussion of what the testing and evaluation process discovered about your child. Try not to get overwhelmed about what each number means but rather what is says about how your child learns best.
  • Input from Classroom Teachers and Parents – After the test results are discussed many times a teacher will discuss what they see in the classroom. This can bring the test results to life in how learning disabilities or behaviors are showing themselves in the actual setting. This is a good time for parents to chime in as to what they see as struggles at home or where their child does best.
  • Drafting the IEP – Most times the special needs teachers will come to the meeting with suggestions of goals as well as accommodations that will help the child meet those goals annually. While the actual IEP document is not written at the table, the  goals, modifications and issues are discussed at length to decide what the IEP will look like. It is only after the input of the team members that the IEP is drafted and mailed to all the appropriate parties. Parents should be an integral part of this process and have the right to agree or disagree with the findings.