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“My name isn’t Mom”
Has the rest of the team taken the time to remember you by name? As the parent, you are the only permanent member of the IEP team and the only member of the IEP that has a federal right to be on the team. You are a VIP and VIPs have names. Remind the school staff to take the time to remember your name.
Scheduling Meetings at a Mutually Convenient Time
VIPS aren’t just given a time to show up at a meeting, they are asked if certain times are convenient for them. If you are simply given a time to show up at a meeting, kindly decline and offer three dates/times that are convenient for you. Not only is a “mutually convenient time” the law, checking in with you before scheduling a time shows courtesy and respect to the parent of the child the team is meeting about. Don’t let yourself get treated like Drunk Uncle Bob who has to be invited to family events. You should not be the last one invited to the meeting on a take or leave it basis.
Don’t ask “What is going to be on the agenda?”
Don’t allow the school to solely set the agenda for the meeting, especially if you are the one who requested the meeting. You are your child’s voice in the IEP process. If there is a topic you want to discuss, it needs to go into the agenda to ensure the topic will be addressed and that the other members know in advance so they can come prepared. This is especially important if you are advocating for a change in the IEP. Read more about the importance of agendas and minutes in this blog.
Request Documentation in Advance of Meetings
If you are to go over documentation at a meeting and want to participate in a meaningful way, it is important to get the documents in advance of the meeting rather than have them handed to you on the spot. Otherwise, if you are handed documents at a meeting, you can’t meaningfully participate and advocate for your child as you will not be prepared to ask the right questions. Ask for at least 3 or 4 days or more if needed and send this request in writing.
Refer to Others as “Team Members”
You and the school staff may both need to be reminded that the IEP team includes school staff, you as the parent and possibly others. Get in the practice of using the right terminology as you are all members of your child’s IEP team. By doing so, it reminds everyone else that you are a member of the team and it’s not school v. parent and choosing one side over another. An effective team sits at a round table as you are all there to problem solve and create a meaningful plan for your child. Think like a team member.