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5 Tips For Preparing For An IEP Team Meeting In Colorado

by | Jun 7, 2022 | Special Education Law |

Parents often feel anxious about Individualized Education Program (IEP) Team meetings, which can be confusing and overwhelming.  Preparing in advance of special education meetings may increase parents’ confidence and the likelihood of a favorable outcome.  Below are a few suggestions to help parents in Colorado participate effectively in IEP Team meetings.

1). Review the Procedural Safeguards Notice.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) gives parents important legal rights regarding special education.  It’s a good idea to understand these rights before the IEP Team meeting.  Many parental rights regarding special education in Colorado are explained in the Procedural Safeguards Notice, which is available on the Colorado Department of Education’s website.  (Please note that, in some cases, a person who is not the student’s parent may have the rights that are normally given to parents under the IDEA.)

2). Request and review your child’s records prior to the meetings.

Because of the Family Educational and Rights Privacy Act (FERPA), parents typically have the right to inspect their child’s education records – especially if the child is a minor.  The IDEA also provides similar rights.  Information about how to access education records is usually provided on the school district’s website and/or in its board policies.

Important records to review may include the student’s special education records, grades, assessments, and discipline records.  Reviewing the records in advance can help parents identify if their child is struggling and what issues need to be discussed at the IEP Team meeting.

3). Understand the purpose of the IEP meeting and what topics will be discussed at the meeting.

In most cases, parents should expect to receive a written notice prior to the IEP Team meeting that explains the purpose, time, and location of the meeting and who will attend the meeting.  In general, parents can invite other individuals to the IEP Team meeting if they have knowledge or special expertise about their child.  It is often helpful to notify the school district in advance if other individuals will be invited.  Similarly, if the parents are unclear about the topics that will be discussed at the meeting – or would like to discuss additional topics – it may be helpful to communicate with the school district about those issues in advance as well.

In many situations, parents have other concerns about their child besides special education matters.  It can be useful to review the school district’s board policies – which are often available online – to get more information about the various processes to address particular issues.

4). Make a list of your key questions/concerns.

Creating a list of questions/concerns can help parents organize their thoughts in advance of the IEP Team meeting so that they’re better prepared to participate in the discussion.  In addition, having a list may help parents keep track of the issues addressed at the meeting, as well as take good notes about which issues were resolved and which issues need follow-up.  If there are relevant documents – such as education or medical records – that are related to particular matters, it may be helpful to have them handy to refer to at the meeting.

5). Understand your options for resolving disputes.

Hopefully, these suggestions will help parents have productive, cooperative IEP Team meetings.  That said, it is also a good idea to have a clear understanding of options if the IEP Team meeting ends in disagreement.  There are many special education dispute resolution options in Colorado, such as facilitated IEP Team meetings, mediation, state complaints, and due process hearings.  More information about these procedures is available on the Colorado Department of Education website.  Discussing your situation with an experienced attorney can help you choose the right option for you.