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NC Education Lawyer Blog

  • Writer's pictureNeubia Harris

7 Common Things That Can Go Wrong at IEP Meetings and How to Fix Them

If you've been invited to an IEP meeting anytime soon, you have to be prepared.

IEP meetings are very important. After all, the outcome plays a significant role in how your child pans out academically.

The ideal IEP meetings are those in which:

  • The meeting starts and ends at the scheduled time, and there's no deviation from the agenda.

  • Everyone understands the meaning of IEP, FAPE, etc.

  • The meeting chair is brimming with confidence and leadership qualities.

  • Other issues not on the agenda are scheduled for discussion at another time.

  • There's a lot of clarification, so everyone understands the matters of discussion.

  • Members participate actively and respect the opinions of others.

  • Teachers are sensitive when delivering reports of a student's grade or performance.

What to do when IEP meetings are going awry

However, some IEP meetings are far from ideal. And that's expected, given that many team members are usually involved.

Emotions are bound to run high, tempers will flare, and disagreements over issues will occur. Here are common IEP meetings scenarios and what you should do:

  • Tempers flares

IEP meetings should have an atmosphere of mutual respect. When respect flies out the window, taking a break for everyone to cool off can abate the situation. In very intense cases, the meeting should end and reschedule for another day.

  • A team member attempts to dominate the discussions

Such members should be reminded of the meeting procedure. The importance of civility during meetings to ensure every member airs their own opinions without interruption should be stated.

  • No teacher stays for the entire duration meeting

This occurs when each teacher comes in, gives a report, and leaves. No one stays except the special education teacher. Relevant participants must be present at meetings at all times since they're crucial to the success of the IEP. So request that at least one teacher is present throughout the meeting.

  • Disagreements occur

Disagreements are a regular part of meetings and should be expected. However, members should be reminded of the need to respect others' views to prevent meetings from turning confrontational.

  • You bring a lawyer without notifying the school in advance

It is your right as a parent to bring a lawyer to IEP meetings. Suppose you didn't inform them before the meeting. In that case, the school may go ahead despite the lawyer's presence, offer to hold the meeting without the lawyer, or reschedule the meeting for another time when the district's attorney can also be present.

  • People you want present at the meeting don't show up

If people you've invited don't show up, you shouldn't accept that the meeting should end. So request a rescheduling of the meeting. It's your child, and everyone integral to your child's success should be present.

  • No parental input on the IEP

You've been invited to an IEP meeting but noticed that the IEP has already been drawn up. You are asked for some comments and told to sign the document.

The IEP process is a collaborative one, and you, as the parent of the child whose IEP is being created, have the right to be there from start to finish. If the school refuses, a special education attorney can ensure the right thing is done.


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