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Guaranteeing Special Education Rights: Individualized Education Plans

Spirit Lake Consulting, Inc.
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Spirit Lake tribal memberParent Involvement: Preparing for the IEP meeting

Parent and student involvement in planning for their child's education is very important. Yet, on reservations, the involvement of parents and students tends to be very low. We have included a lot of tips here for you to increase this involvement. One reason that people are not involved is they are not sure what they can do at a meeting, how to get ready for one or why they should go.

Preparing for the meeting: Steps to take

  1. Discuss with your student what it is that you want decided in the IEP meeting. What do you think are reasonable goals for a student? Does your student want to attend the IEP meeting?
  2. Decide who you want to bring with you. You have a right to have your opinion be heard on important decisions affecting your child, but we all know that, for most people, speaking up in a meeting is not easy. Sometimes, you find that, as you gain knowledge, the ease of asking for what your child needs in these meetings improves. Until that happens, if you don't feel comfortable asking for what you need, bring someone else to ask for you. Everyone has an Auntie Martina or a neighbor named Joe who is perfectly willing to stand up to anyone at any time.
  3. Know what your rights are and are not. You lose credibility if you begin hollering about your rights and "I know you have to put this on the IEP because I am the parent and I requested it." Schools are not required to provide every service you request, but they are required to show they addressed your concerns. For example, you may say that your child needs a laptop computer because she has trouble with motor skills and cannot write well enough to complete the assignments in class on time. The IEP may state that your daughter can use the class computer to type her assignments or that she will be allowed to take the assignments home, complete them and bring them back the next day. If you are not satisfied with the school's response, you have the right to request a fair hearing. We will discuss student and parental rights shortly (I promise).
  4. Write everything down! SLC President Dr. Erich Longie says, "If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say, 'I forgot', I would have retired a long time ago. The way to make sure you don't forget is pure and simple. Write it down." Go to the IEP meeting with your list of goals for your child, services you want and anything else you want to make sure is covered in the meeting. Then, as Evelyn Klimpel reminded us in an earlier page, get everything agreed upon written into the IEP.
  5. As much as possible, know what it is that you want to achieve from the IEP meeting. Are there specific services you want your student to receive? Do you want her to be in the regular classroom more hours each day? Since this is a major topic in itself, the next page is devoted simply to a list of services that you may want to request.

NEXT arrow Services to be included on the IEP

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