I figured I would put my teaching knowledge to good use and offer some insight into the IEP process. I find that it is not very parent friendly and can be very intimidating if you have never been to one (or even when you have been to tons). Here are some words that will be thrown around and most people will not even take notice to the fact that you have no idea what any of it means:
IEP stands for Individualized Education Program. This is the document that is supposed to be tailored to your child. This will include their present levels (where they are at right now or the progress they have made on their goals from the past year. This includes any test scores). It also will include goals to work towards in the upcoming year and different ways to help your child in the classroom. Other things may also be included such as if your child qualifies for summer school (ESY), if they receive other services such as occupational therapy and if they are allowed to have accommodations on state testing.
NOREP stands for Notice of Recommended Educational Placement. This is basically a quick summary of the services that were indicated in the IEP (How much academic support they will receive, if they are getting any other services such as occupational therapy or speech therapy, etc).
An FBA is a functional behavior assessment. This is when the school will observe your child’s behavior and try to figure out the areas of concern and why they are engaging in that particular behavior. The function of behavior can be to gain attention or gain access to an item. It could be to escape an undesired task. It also could be for sensory input.
A PBSP is a positive behavior support plan. After the FBA is written, the team creates a PBSP to come up with a plan to stop the negative behavior and also to encourage more socially appropriate behaviors. The team should come up with a plan. For example, if your child is screaming curse words for attention, the team might come up with a plan that says they will ignore the screaming and offer a 15 minute break with a preferred staff member for every 5 times they raise their hand (or whatever they want to replace screaming with).
Procedural Safeguards: This is a giant packet explaining your rights as a parent to someone with special needs. They are REQUIRED to give you one yearly or when you ask. Some rights that I like to tell my parents are that:
Your child cannot be suspended 10 times or more without holding a meeting to discuss their current placement and if there are other options so your child may succeed.
An IEP is a live document. This means that you may ask to hold a meeting or revise something in the IEP at ANY time! You do not have to wait until the following year’s IEP meeting.
At a meeting you will be asked to sign several documents. Here is what you need to know:
If you sign the IEP you are just stating that you attended the meeting. You are not agreeing or disagreeing with anything in the document.
Procedural Safeguards: This is a page within the IEP. If you sign this document you are saying that you received this giant packet.
If you sign the NOREP, you are agreeing to everything in the NOREP and IEP! If you are not happy with your child’s placement (amount of time in special education, amount of speech/language received, school placement in general, etc) THEN DO NOT SIGN THIS DOCUMENT!
Many states offer free or reduced cost advocates. If you feel uncomfortable for any reason try searching for local free advocates in your area. An advocate is familiar with the laws in your state and will help you to fight for your child’s rights.
I hope this helps in some way. My brother went through the special education process and I remember my mom used to come home every time crying. You will hear sad/frustrating things about your child in the meeting and this can make you feel emotional (poor behavior, low academic scores, etc.). You should never feel like you are being bullied or forced into anything you are not comfortable with for your child. You also should never feel like your thoughts and opinions are not being valued and considered. There is a section in the IEP for parental concerns so your voice should be heard! Best of luck and always feel free to email or comment me with questions.