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What should I expect from my child's upcoming IEP meeting?

The IEP meeting is intended to be a collaborative process between the parent and the school district to identify the child’s needs and abilities. Unfortunately, in some districts the process has become increasingly adversarial. Part of this has to do with the financial pressures that school districts face – the tighter the city’s budget, the more difficulty you are likely to experience in securing needed special education supports.

In any event, you should be prepared to voice your concerns about your child’s difficulties and explain to the team the reasons that you believe your child requires special education. You should be well-versed in the types of special education programs and therapies that exist so that you know what to ask for. You should be familiar with the different kinds of classifications that exist for individuals with disabilities so you understand which apply to your child.

If the special education committee recognizes that your child has a disability, it will create an Individualized Education Program (IEP). The IEP is a legal document that sets out your child’s present levels of performance, the nature of his/her disability, what type of program would be appropriate, goals and objectives for the upcoming school year, what related services are needed, etc. Depending on the district, the team may or may not discuss a particular school site recommendation. In New York City, that determination is made by a separate group of individuals within the Department of Education.

For purposes of developing an appropriate IEP, you should ask any professionals involved in your child’s case to participate in the meeting to provide feedback about your child’s abilities and progress as well as to answer any questions that the committee may have.