This is for parents of special education children. You must fight for their rights. You are the only voice they have.
Doctors diagnosed Zelda, my daughter, with Autism at 2 years. We weathered through early childhood intervention. She had speech therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy. I felt very comfortable with the early intervention team but when we transferred over to the school teams, everything was a challenge. You had to fight for everything.
This is one example of the IEP process that caused us problems.
We had Zelda’s IEP today. Zelda is in the 3-year-old preschool disabled classroom. I have a problem with the IEP process. During an IEP meeting, case managers give parents a copy of the IEP. School districts expect parents to read over it there and agree to it there.
To prepare for this meeting, I read over her past IEP and her progress reports. I wanted to be knowledgeable of what they expected of her and what services she was receiving. I came with questions I wanted to ask at the meeting based on the goals and objectives in her original IEP. There were objectives that Zelda was still working on based on her progress report and I had questions prepared based on that report.
Zelda mastered those goals, but no one told me. I proud of Zelda for making her goals but I wish I knew what they were before the meeting. I didn’t have access to the new goals until the meeting.
Another shock came when they plan where they wanted to place Zelda for next school year. When Zelda started school in October, they planned on putting in the inclusion 3-year-old room in December, then it was the end of the year. Then it was to let her transition in the summer program. Now they say they want her to go to the preschool disabled 4-year-old class. I mean Did I miss something? Zelda made her goals, but she is not moving her to her least restrictive environment or to what I thought was her least restrictive environment.
This frustrates me because I had the entire IEP team there this morning and new information and no time to process it. Now I have questions.
I want a working copy of the IEP’s given out to parents possible a week or more before the IEP meeting.. If everyone knew the contents IEP before the meeting, we could have more intelligent questions.
It’s not just this school district. Schools have 7 to 10 days after the IEP meeting the parents to get a copy of the IEP. It is better to receive a working copy before the meeting. Parents are not the enemy. We are both on the same team. Both school and home want what is best for our student.
Something for parents to remember:
The school will make it sound as if you have to but you don’t. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO SIGN IT. Why sign a document you have not had time to read it and understand it?
You can request a copy of the IEP ahead of time. I am a teacher. This is not a difficult request.
UPDATE ON ZELDA
Going from the 3-year-old who couldn’t talk to the girl in the third grader whose biggest problem is talking in class brings tears to my eyes. She is an amazing child and has come so far. I can’t wait to see where life takes her.