The IEP process can be a stressful event for any parent or guardian, but it shouldn't. Remember, the purpose of an IEP is to determine what programs, services and modifications will help your child achieve success despite their qualifying condition. IEP collaboration strategies can help your meeting go smoothly while fostering a positive relationship with your school district.
CONFLICT vs. COLLABORATION:
Conflict occurs when the process is not well understood, perceptions rooted in "us" versus "them", or there is a lack of structure or time. We all saw how mask mandates resulted in extreme division and conflict in school districts around America. Regardless of the issue, we must view each other as partners when it comes to educating our children and special education is no exception. Many parents fail to realize that special education law, known as IDEA, mandates that a parent be an active member of the IEP team and that the creation of an IEP result from the collaborative efforts of both parents and the representatives from the school district. If you choose not to participate in passively attend, you are not only giving up your voice, but your child’s as well.
Many parents view schools as the enemy due to their own childhood experiences in education. These need to be left at home or addressed as they will get in the way of your child's educational plan. Remember, schools have dramatically changed in the last twenty years. If you have feelings of betrayal, anger or injustice, chances are you child will pick up on these and view school as the enemy. This is counterproductive to helping your child receive their best educational experience.
COMPONENTS of IEP COLLABORATION:
SPECIFIC IEP COLLABORATION TECHNIQUES:
PARENT TIPS for a SUCCESSFUL IEP:
Remember that the educational system is based on a hierarchy usually consisting of the following positions:
If you do not agree with the evaluation conducted by your school district, you can contact the Director of Special Education and request an Independent Education Evaluation (IEE). The district is required to pay for this at no cost to you. Or, you can ask for a new evaluation the following year.
If you've exhausted all of your efforts at IEP collaboration, try mediation. This is a highly effective technique that is less adversarial than a due process hearing. Of course, if all efforts fail, you have the right to file for due process.
If the district has violated a legal duty or fails to follow the requirements outlined in IDEA, you should file a formal complaint. You have one year to file a complaint after the violation has occurred.