Meeting the Members of Your Child’s IEP Team
You may have already learned about the basics of IEP meeting preparation. If you feel ready for the meeting after reading our first blog in this series, great! But before diving into the meeting, you’ll want to know who’s who in the room. Familiarizing yourself with the roles of each IEP team member will help you communicate more effectively with everyone on your child’s team making for a more productive and streamlined meeting.
Pediatric Therapeutic Services (PTS, Inc.) wants to prepare you for these critical meetings so you (and your child) leave with all your questions answered and excited to move ahead with the next steps of their educational plan.
Read on to learn about each IEP team member and how you can contribute to and make the most of this important meeting.
So, who are the required members of an IEP team? And what is your relationship with them as a parent?
Know Their Roles: Who Are the Required Members of an IEP Team?
- At least one general education teacher
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) states that at least one education teacher outside of the special ed program must attend the IEP meeting. This law is particularly important if your child currently is or will be participating in the general education environment. General education teachers understand the child’s grade-level curriculum as well as what the child will be expected to learn in a general education environment. She or he can contribute to key decisions about what the child needs, including tips on reading materials, graphics with written materials, and other accommodations.
It is imperative that all of the student’s general education teachers understand his or her goals and needs within the classroom. All of the teachers should have access to the child’s IEP. As a parent, you can ask how your child is doing in his or her class.
- At least one special education teacher
As you know, special education teachers have direct training and experience teaching children with disabilities. This type of teacher works with your child in a setting separate from the general education classroom. The special education teacher understands your child’s academic and non-academic goals and uses strategies to help the child achieve these goals.
At the IEP meeting, at least one special educator contributes by providing observational data to the group and suggesting changes to the instruction. You can learn more about your child’s strengths and weaknesses from this teacher, and vice versa. This information can help the team as a whole decide how to move forward with the therapy and related services plan.
- A school district representative
This individual has the authority to suggest and approve school resources for the special education student. As an IEP team member, a school district representative must be qualified to either provide special education instructions or supervise the provision of these instructions. This person must also ensure that the resources discussed during the IEP are attainable and accessible.
- An individual who can interpret the evaluation results
Evaluations are necessary to determine the extent of the child’s disability and the amount of therapy and related services needed. There must be at least one IEP team member that can expertly comprehend the results of the student’s evaluation. This person can then explain this data to the group and contribute to the instructional plan for the student. The interpreter of these results might already be a team member, such as a special education teacher, or someone new, such as a school psychologist.
- A related services provider
Your child’s occupational, physical, or speech therapist has special expertise and knowledge about the child’s skills and progress. The related services provider can attend the IEP meeting, given your child has or will receive one of these services. If the related services provider cannot be at the IEP meeting, you as a parent must sign off and wave his or her attendance.
- Your child
Will your child attend this meeting with you? It depends. IDEA requires that the child receives an invitation if the meeting consists of discussing postsecondary goals and transitional services. Otherwise, unless the child is of age or the rights of the parent are limited, it is up to the parent to make this decision.
Talk to your child and perhaps your child’s teachers about the possibility of him or her attending. Special education students usually benefit from participating in these meetings. They can gradually develop a more active role in their own education. Introducing themselves and talking about their learning experiences boosts their self-confidence and social skills. Older children even have the option to lead their own IEP meetings.
Remember, despite the various levels of expertise in the room, no one knows your child as well as you do. Your voice matters, so speak up with your opinions and concerns. Also, focus on the bigger picture and what balance of therapy and general education will help your child progress the fastest.
Stay tuned for our next blog in the series on when to bring in reinforcements regarding your child’s IEP.
Interested in learning more about how to engage with the required IEP team members? Contact a PTS, Inc. clinical director today by calling our office at 610-941-7020.