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Ten Comments You May Hear at IEP Meetings and How You Should Respond

Quality IEPs
5 Rules for Successful IEP Meetings

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In This Issue …

Circulation: 86,183
ISSN: 1538-320
September 27, 2011

When I told the team that I was dissatisfied with Jeremy’s progress, the chairman said, “What do you want us to do?” Several people laughed. I was so embarrassed! Don’t they know what to do? They were trying to make me feel stupid. – Marie at parent training session.IEP team membersEffective advocacy comes from research, planning, and preparation. When a meeting is scheduled, it is time to prepare. Remember the rules:

  1. Know what you want
  2. Do not blame or criticize
  3. Protect the parent-school relationship
  4. Seek win-win solutions to problems
  5. Understand the school’s position

In this issue of the Special Ed Advocate you will find out how to represent your child’s interest as you negotiate with the IEP team. Learn the rules and the steps to prepare for a successful IEP meeting.

Please don’t hesitate to forward this issue to friends, family members, or colleagues.

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mom and daughter reading Know What You Want!If you are like many parents, you think you must use educational jargon to make requests and express concerns. Not so! Make your requests in clear simple language.Pre-Meeting Worksheet: What do you want? What does the school want? As you prepare, complete the information on a Pre-Meeting Worksheet to answer important questions to address team concerns and fears.Parent Agenda: An effective way to provide the school with a list of your concerns and questions before the meeting so school members of your child’s team will have time to prepare and address your concerns.

Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy, 2d Edition Identify Problems: Propose Win-Win SolutionsTaking (and Maintaining) Control at IEP Meetings: Chapter 25 and 26 in Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy, 2d Edition. Learn effective advocacy strategies for controlling the outcome of meetings. On Sale Now! 25% offIEP Meeting Worksheet: In Chapter 26, learn how to use a problem resolution worksheet as a simple strategy to help you keep track of the issues you want to resolve.If I were asked to choose just one book to help me learn advocacy skills, this is it!

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Back to School Sales Ends Tomorrow Sept 28 Last Day – Back to School Sale Ends Tomorrow!Don’t Miss Out! Sale ends midnight Wednesday, September 28, 2011.Save 25% on ALL Wrightslaw Products in the Wrightslaw Store.When you share this offer with your friends and colleagues, they will receive the 25% discount too.

group applause Team Spirit: Suppose I Disagree with the IEP Team?There is nothing wrong with disagreement. Problems come from the manner in which disagreements are handled. There are better ways to obtain positive results than to roar through meetings in a Mack Truck.Find out what to do When Disagreements Turn Into Power Struggles. Learn how to manage emotions, recognize pitfalls, and avoid mistakes at IEP meetings when you disagree with the team.back to the top

What People Are Saying About The Special Ed Advocate Newsletter“Thanks for the trustworthy information an support you provide through the Wrightslaw web site and newsletter. You helped our family act when we needed to – we are thriving now.”
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Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition, by Pam and Pete Wright Wrightslaw: All About IEPs Surviving Due Process: Stephen Jeffers v. School Board
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Crisis Management Step By Step

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Circulation: 82,646
ISSN: 1538-320

November 9, 2010

Dear Friend & AdvocateHelp!In a crisis, you feel frightened, confused, guilty, angry, and helpless. Your common sense and good judgment vanish. What should you do? During a crisis, your first response is likely to be a big mistake!Think. Regroup. Analyze the issues. Gather information. Locate the high ground. Plan a strategy.In this issue of the Special Ed Advocate, you will learn how to manage a conflict or crisis with the school and long-term planning strategies you can use to weather the storm. Learn what to do if you have a conflict with the IEP team over inappropriate goals.Please don’t hesitate to forward this issue to other friends, families, or colleagues.

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Events that Trigger Problems
Girl unhappily writing in school We receive requests for help from parents who are in crisis because the school:

  • Refused to consider or include test results and recommendations from a private sector expert in the child’s IEP;
  • Refused to change the child’s program and placement, despite recommendations from a private sector professional that the program is not appropriate;
  • Refused to provide necessary services because these services are expensive or would establish a precedent. … more triggers

Parents must think about how to solve the problem and how to prevent a small problem from escalating into a major battle. A crisis is an opportunity. It forces you to face reality and to take the needed steps to change your child’s educational situation.

How to Manage a Crisis with the School
Successful meeting with two woman Help! I have pulled my son from the public school. My son reads at 2.5 grade level and they expect him to do 5th grade work. I put him in online school – what else can I do?Do you have an evaluation that advised this change? Why do you think he will do better?Don’t assume you must do something! Read our article Crisis! Emergency! Help! This article is a “must read” for you and other parents who want to avoid a school crisis.

Help! Is This IEP Goal Correct?
Girl at computer My daughter’s IEP doesn’t state the present levels. The annuals goals for reading are so vague. Can you tell me if they will work for a high school freshman?They will not work unless you have the present levels so that you know where you are starting. Are the goals measurable? Will they show the level of performance has changed? Will they bring your daughter to grade level?New article! Appropriate Annual Goals by Sue Whitney, Wrightslaw Research Editor. Sue gives you a step by step assignment to determine appropriate reading goals for your child.

How to Disagree with the IEP Team Without Starting WW III
Man and woman disagree In How to Disagree with the IEP Team, Pete Wright answers your questions about IEPs and how to disagree with the IEP team without starting a war. Learn how to deal with an IEP team bully.What would you do if the school presented you with an IEP that is not appropriate for your child? Read Pete’s advice

Need IEP Answers?
Wrightslaw: All About IEPs You will find clear, concise answers to more than 200 frequently asked questions about IEPs in Wrightslaw: All About IEPs.We describe legal issues that you may encounter, outline your rights and responsibilities, and explain the law in plain language you can understand.All About IEPs includes resources and endnotes used as the authority for answers to your questions. If you take the book to a school meeting, you will have the law, regulation, OSEP publication, or commentary to back you up.back to the top

What People Are Saying About The Special Ed Advocate Newsletter
“Thanks for the trustworthy information and support you provide through the Wrightslaw web site and newsletter. You helped our family act when we needed to – we are thriving now.”
Great Products From Wrightslaw
Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition, by Pam and Pete Wright Wrightslaw: All About IEPs Surviving Due Process: Stephen Jeffers v. School Board
About the Book
To Order
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Visit Wrightslaw.com
Definition IDEA: Sec. 300.8(c)(10)

Specific learning disability. (i) General. Specific learning disability means a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia.

Sec. 602(30)(B)

What is an IEP?

An IEP is an Individualized Education Plan, mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

IDEA requires public schools to develop an IEP for every student with a disability who is found to meet the federal and state requirements for special education.  The IEP must be designed to provide the child with a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).. The IEP refers both to the educational program to be provided to a child with a disability and to the written document that describes that educational program.

Key considerations in developing an IEP include assessing students in all areas related to the suspected disability(ies), considering access to the general curriculum, considering how the disability affects the student’s learning, developing goals and objectives that make the biggest difference for the student, and ultimately choosing a placement in the least restrictive environment.


Section 504 is the part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that applies to individuals with disabilities. It is a civil rights act that protects the civil rights of persons with disabilities. Section 504 is a nondiscrimination statute, prohibiting discrimination based solely on disability.

Section 504 requires that no person with a disability can be excluded from or denied benefits of any program receiving federal financial assistance; this includes education. It is important to keep in mind that some students who have physical or mental conditions that limit their ability to access and participate in the education program are entitled to accommodations under Section 504, even though they may not fall into a disabilities category covered under special education.

A student is eligible for accommodations under Section 504 if the student has a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more of a student’s major life activities that impacts education.

“Major life activities” include functions such as caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working. When a condition does not substantially limit a major life activity that impacts education, the student does not qualify for protection under Section 504.

Many students eligible for Section 504 accommodations have special health care needs; some could include: HIV, Tourette syndrome, attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), heart malfunctions, communicable diseases, urinary conditions, blood disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, school phobia, respiratory conditions such as asthma, epilepsy, cancer, birth defects, tuberculosis, diabetes, and food allergies.

Some children who do not qualify for special education may be eligible for services under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that protects the rights of persons with disabilities. A Section 504 plan is developed by a team that includes the parents and can provide the student with accommodations or services that are needed.


It must be emphasized that Section 504 falls under the management responsibility of the general education program. The school staff and parents need to work in collaboration to help guarantee that the student is provided with the necessary accommodations. To be in compliance with Section 504, schools must:

1. Provide written assurance of nondiscrimination.

2. Designate a 504 Coordinator.

3. Provide grievance procedures to resolve complaints.

4. Provide notice of nondiscrimination in admission or access to its programs or activities. Notice must be included in a student/parent handbook.

5. Identify and locate annually all qualified children with disabilities who are not receiving a public education.

6. Notify annually persons with disabilities and their parents or guardians of the district’s responsibilities under Section 504.

7. Provide parents or guardians with procedural safeguards.

8. Conduct a self-evaluation of school district policies, programs, and practices to make sure discrimination is not occurring.


1. Share your concerns with the school early before they become major problems.

2. Be involved in Section 504 meetings concerning your child.

3. Assist in developing appropriate accommodations for your child.

4. Encourage your child to cooperate with school staff and do his/her best.

5. Collaborate with other agencies, such as vocational rehabilitation, when appropriate.

6. Use mediation or the grievance procedure as options if a difference cannot be resolved with the school.


1. Be involved at Section 504 meetings, when appropriate.

2. Be familiar with your Section 504/ADA rights at postsecondary programs before graduating from high school.

3. Cooperate and put forth maximum effort at school. (Information taken from the Utah State Office of Education’s Parent’s Guide to Section 504

Click on link below for a power point presentation on 504/IEP