Parents are expected to be equal participants along with school personnel in developing, reviewing, and revising the student’s IEP. In fact, the IEP team must consider your child’s strengths and your concerns for enhancing his education. [34 C.F.R. Secs. 300.324(a)(l)(i) & (ii); Cal. Ed. Code. Secs. 56341.1(a)(2) & (f).]
You can contribute to the IEP process by bringing to the IEP meeting a written summary describing your child’s needs as you see them. The district must include your input in the IEP. It must also attach your written summary to the IEP if you request. [34 C.F.R. Secs. 300.322, 300.324(a)(ii) & 300.501; Cal. Ed. Code 56304.] This summary should include these areas:
- Strengths (outgoing, open, optimistic, articulate, imaginative, friendly, caring). The IEP team must also consider: concerns of the parents for enhancing the student’s education, results of initial and most recent evaluations of the student, and results of the student’s performance on any district-wide and state-wide assessments. [34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.324(a); Cal. Ed. Code Sec.56341.1(a).];
- Weaknesses/Problem Areas (poor self-concept, academic deficits, fighting, disorganization, takes longer than average to complete assignments, discouraged easily);
- Functioning Levels (difficulty with reading, math or spelling, deficits in perceptual skills, responds to individual attention, needs verbal reinforcement for presented material); and
- What the Child Needs to Learn (more positive self-concept, proficiency at grade level in academic areas, age-appropriate social skills, self-help skills, job training, needs to be better organized, work at a more rapid pace).
This written format should help you organize your ideas. Then you can help school personnel in identifying goal areas for your child, and in writing a full description of your child’s educational needs.
You also can contribute by bringing others who know your child to support you, by being assertive at the IEP meeting, and by knowing your rights under the law.