Ask Questions!

Many parents feel intimidated and confused during Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings. As a full member of the IEP team, your job is being an advocate for your child. During the special education process, you need to partner with the school and be an active participant.  One way of advocating is by asking questions during the IEP meetings that will help you understand the process and documents being reviewed. There may be new terms used, and you need to understand them.

If you are not given a copy of your child’s most recent IEP document to read during the meeting, ask for one. Ask for the team to go through the document section by section.

If you are not given copies of testing results before the meeting (you should be given them beforehand), ask for copies to follow along with during the meeting.

Ask the team to “slow down” if necessary. Ask for explanations and clarifications.

When reviewing the goals and objectives ask for a summary of your child’s progress. Exactly how is my child’s progress measured? Remember you have goals for your child. Share them with the team. Ask how they can be implemented. What are the changes the IEP team is recommending?

Is my child on grade level for math, reading, and writing? If not, why? How will you get my child to grade level?

If the team should discuss interventions, ask how your child will get remedial help. How will your child be given this help? Will my child be “pulled out” of the class with a small group of students? Will my child get help within the classroom? Will my child be given individual help?

What changes to the IEP should be implemented and why? If there are revisions to the IEP, when will they be implemented and by whom?

Part of your role as an advocate is to ensure the goals, interventions and accommodations are implemented.

If all your concerns are not fully addressed during the meeting, ask to have a follow-up meeting as soon as possible. You may ask for as many IEP meetings to be held as you deem necessary.

Remember that there are no questions that are “stupid.” And always remember you know your child best, and you are your child’s best advocate..

Janet Lee, the founder of Pathways Educational Consulting, has extensive experience serving as an advocate and navigator for parents of children with special needs in the Montgomery Country, Maryland public school system. Janet Lee prepares parents for Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) meetings and assists at these meetings in order to secure accommodations and when necessary, appropriate school placements. She has particular expertise in Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and 504 Plans.