Parent Participation in IEP Meetings

IEP meetings can be emotional and overwhelming, but knowing how to work with the education team effectively is very important. You are a key member of the IEP team with the unique perspective that comes with the long view of your child’s developmental history, dreams, and resources.

Your participation is very important. As the IDEA notes:

“Almost 30 years of research and experience has demonstrated that the education of children with disabilities can be made more effective by… strengthening the role and responsibility of parents and ensuring that families … have meaningful opportunities to participate in the education of their children at school and at home.”

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New & Improved IEP Meetings

The words, “IEP meeting,” can strike fear in the hearts of parents and educators alike.  Anger, apprehension, dread, and a variety of other emotions may rise to the surface in anticipation of the meeting in which an Individual Education Program is written for a student who receives special education services. But we can change this!  And many of the tips from Kathie Snow’s  “New & Improved” IEP Meetings article can be used at any type of “I” meeting.

Download the PDF at

What are Supplementary Aids and Services?

According to IDEA, Supplementary Aids and Services means, aids, services and other supports that are provided in regular education classes or other education-related settings to enable children with disabilities to be educated with nondisabled children to the maximum extent appropriate.

Supplementary Aids and Services can include changes in:

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How to Use IDEA 2004 to Improve Your Child’s Special Education

Prior to IDEA 2004 the standard for a Free, Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) was that schools had to provide services so that the child received some educational benefit.  Congress said that the purpose of IDEA 2004 is to provide FAPE that “emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their (the child’s) unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment and independent living.”  “Further education” is an outcome that had not been stated previously.  This sets a higher standard for parents to push for their child.

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17 Tips for Getting Quality Special Education Services for Your Child

Before the IEP Meeting

Individualized Education Program

The IEP is developed at a meeting with required staff and the parent(s).  For more information on IEPs, click here.

1. Request Needed Assessments in Writing or Get Independent Assessments

Your child can be assessed in any area of suspected disability and for any services needed for him to benefit from school.  For example, assessments may be done to determine/identify:

  • Reading or math levels
  • Modifications needed to fully include your child
  • Therapy services (OT, PT, speech, mental health)
  • Assistive technology like a communication device.

If you disagree with the school district’s assessment, you can obtain an independent assessment at public expense. Always request assessments in writing.

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I don’t think my child’s IEP is working, what do I do?

Before scheduling an IEP meeting to discuss your concerns, do some homework. Your initial concern may not be the primary cause of your child’s difficulty.

1. List each of your concerns. Next, look for data to support your concerns. Talk with the teacher  informally if this feels comfortable.

2. Gather your child’s IEP and any assessments. If you aren’t sure you have everything, write a letter asking the school to provide you with copies. The school has 5 days to provide you with the information that you requested.

3. Review the assessments and IEP papers and make sure you understand these documents. If you need help with this, give us a call at 1-800-866-4726 or email at  We will put you in touch with our PTI staff assisting parents one on one in your area.  You can also check our PTI map to find out which of our PTI’s is serving your area as well as their staff’s contact information.

IMPORTANT: The IEP is developed from assessment information. If something is missing or incorrect in the assessment, it may be the cause of why the IEP isn’t working well.

4. If the assessment doesn’t cover areas of concern, you might need to ask for additional assessment.

5. Check to see if key issues in the assessment are addressed somewhere in the IEP i.e. goals,  accommodations, services, or a behavior plan.

6. If all key issues are covered, maybe your child needs more time receiving current services or maybe the goals need to be more specific and measurable.

7. Sometimes the issue is that you need to be given the data to show what progress is being made on the goals. While the IEP must state how progress will be measured, schools don’t need to provide specific data on interim reports.

8. If all key issues are not linked to something in the IEP, you might find you need to ask for additional or different services.

NOTE: Sometimes a parent agrees with how the IEP is written and the IEP matches the assessment. The concern then may be that the IEP isn’t being implemented as it is written.

9. If you find the IEP isn’t being followed, maybe this can be better understood with a call or email to the principal and school Special Education staff. If the issue seems complex, having an IEP meeting to discuss this may be best. Remember when asking for an IEP meeting, put your request in writing. The school has 30 days to hold the meeting after receiving your request. (There is no specific timeline in Texas.)

FINALLY: An IEP is not written in stone. It can be changed as needed. Individual Education Plans are meant to assist your child in making progress on their goals and to access the General Education curriculum. IEPs do not guarantee results and do not mean your student will be taught individually. IEPs should address your child’s needs in an individualized and meaningful plan.

From Matrix Parents Network & Resource Center,