Updated: Jan 18, 2021
Many professionals attend an IEP meeting, especially the Annual Review. Their function may not always be clear to you regarding their work within your child's school day. This article will provide an overview of who is in attendance, what role they play at the IEP meeting, and how they contribute to the day-to-day happenings of your child's school life.
The Committee on Special Education Chairperson, or CSE chair, is the meeting facilitator. Her role is to insure you have received your copy of Procedural Safeguards, due process rights and parental notice, as well as to facilitate the meeting. She is responsible for making sure attendance sign in sheets are completed, and that each part of your child's program is shared with you. She will orchestrate the meeting discussion by inviting you, your child, if attending, and the other members of the team to participate and will encourage the group to stay focused if the meeting gets off topic. At the conclusion of the meeting she will addressing the team to be sure all materials have been shared, give the parents/child a final opportunity to ask questions and close the meeting. She and her office manage all of the documentation required for your child's IEP.
Pro-Tip: The CSE chairperson is a leader in your district related to insuring all
students with special needs receive a free and appropriate public school
education (sometimes referred to as "FAPE") and therefore, someone you
may choose to ask questions of or receive guidance from should you have any
concerns that you would like to address with someone other than your child's
Your Child's Special Education Teacher, sometimes referred to as a case manager, is the lead in creating and implementing your child's IEP. The case manager's role is to insure the goals, accommodations and modifications on the IEP are clearly understood by every school person who interacts with your child. They will often act as an advocate and liaison on your child's behalf during the school day. Should an issue arise at school, the special education teacher is an expert on trouble shooting and providing insights about the needs of your child. The monitoring of goals and daily time spent teaching and measuring your child's progress enables a strong understanding of her strengths and challenges. She is in a strong position to insure your child's program is consistently implemented and that other school professionals act with your child's needs at the forefront. During the IEP meeting this person will report to the team on your child's progress with the academic goals for the current school year. He will also create the following year's IEP, with assistance from you, your child when possible, and others in the school who work with your child.
Pro-Tip: Excellent communication between home and the Special
Education Teacher is vital to your understanding of your child's growth
while in school. When meeting this person for the first time, be sure to take
note of her name, contact information and other questions you may have.
She is your child's teacher and cheerleader so her perspective is invaluable.
The General Education Teacher/Classroom Teacher is a valuable player on the team given that your child spends a majority of her time in the general education classroom. Federal law states that all students academically participate in the least restrictive environment. Therefore, goals of your child's IEP are created with an eye to keeping your child with their classroom and general education teacher as much as possible. As a result, your child's special education teacher and general education teacher work in partnership so your child receives materials as close as possible to the grade level curriculum while still meeting the unique learning goals of your child. For example, if your child is reading below the grade level of the text being used in the classroom she will receive access to the same material in the form of an audio version of the book or modified reading materials in order to receive the instruction at their level and gains skills to improve and be aligned with what the rest of the grade level is learning. At the Annual Review meeting, the teacher will report on how your child is progressing in areas not covered by the IEP.
The Parent is a key player in an IEP meeting, and is required to attend every meeting held regarding the child. If possible, parents should prepare questions and feedback in advance of the meeting in order to speak with clarity about how you feel your child's experience at school is going. Your point of view is valuable and the team will be grateful you are sharing what you see in different environments from the classroom. This is also your opportunity to learn from the team, and understand the reason for the goals created for your child. At all times, you are considered an expert on how your child is developing and learning, and your active participation in the IEP meeting is helps create an optimal learning environment in which she may thrive. If your are confused about anything said during the meeting or you disagree with an outcome, it is your right to ask questions and understand why certain decisions have been made.
The student/your child is integral to his own education and is invited to attend IEP meetings should you wish for him to participate, though very young children generally do not attend. Since these meetings usually last forty-five minutes to an hour, it is important your child is told prior to the meeting why it is taking place and how her participation might assist her in her learning. Children that do participate have the opportunity to make requests about their program and understand what deficits the IEP is addressing. He should be encouraged to ask questions since the outcomes of the meeting directly impacts his learning. In some cases, he may have an issue he would like to address and could bring it up at the meeting. This is important to the current learning environment but also teaches self advocacy so that going forward he will be more comfortable with doing the same in other areas of his life (extracurricular activities, higher learning and/or work place).
Pro-Tip: Should your child wish to be at her IEP meeting, discuss
in advance of the meeting how she feels she is doing and what she might
like to discuss. In so doing, you have the ability to guide her and help
her clarify how she would like to share these ideas and in what words.
Her confidence in speaking to the team will be bolstered and the team
will be able to understand her perspective firsthand. She will also have
practice self advocacy, a skill that will be necessary as she continues on in
her education, and other areas of her life.
Other School Service Professionals, including Speech Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists, School Social Workers, School Counselors and School Psychologists may attend the IEP meeting to share progress made during your child's in-school therapy sessions. If your child has no additional school related services, it is likely that these support staff will not be in attendance. The caveat to this is the School Psychologist as they may have evaluated your child and be asked to report on the certain aspects of the evaluation.
The Parent Advocate is a person who can attend the IEP meeting at the parents' invitation to insure the child's needs are met and act as a support for the parents as they negotiate aspects of the IEP. It is up to the parent to seek out and hire an advocate. Ideally an advocate should have a background in child development and an expertise in most things related to special education, but may just be another parent of a child with a disability who understands the nuances of having a child with special education needs and the IEP process. While schools do not need advance notice an advocate will be attending, it is a courtesy to inform them of the additional team member. During the IEP meeting, the Parent Advocate's role is to improve communication between home and school, problem solve and suggest solutions to issues, provide knowledge of the law, and offer the parent assistance with anything causing difficulties for the child. The parent advocate should act with the best interests of the child at heart. Her participation should facilitate resolutions that will insure the team can continue to effectively work together in the future while creating the best possible program for your child.
I hope this article has given you an understanding of who typically attends an Annual Review Meeting. Have you used a Parent Advocate at your IEP meeting? If so, was this helpful in accomplishing your goals for your child? And, would you recommend using a parent advocate to other parents? Please share your experiences in the comment section below- I love to learn about others' experiences, and your thoughts may provide other readers with help too! Thank you for reading and please stop back soon!