William C Peever, J.D.
When the school only give your 30 minutes for a meeting.
Recently I was asked an interesting question: What do I do when the school district only allows for 30 minutes for a team meeting or worse 45 minutes for a revaluation meeting?
The long and the short of this answer: Ask for more time and remind them of that parental rights literature that they throw at you every year.
In truth, when administrators place arbitrary time limits on IEP meetings, they create a no-win situation. The IEP team will be forced to ignore the legal requirements for reviewing and revising IEPs. So what does that mean:
1. During a yearly (or requested) review and revise meeting:
a. You have a right to hear and UNDERSTAND your child’s current performance level (yes you received a quarterly report- but did you really understand what it said?)
b. You have the right to go over EVERY accommodation and understand why each of them is in place and if they are still relevant
i. Remember an accommodation is a tool like a rope and pulley or a latter for the child to have an equal opportunity to pick an apple, even if they do not know -or are physically unable to climb the tree alone; a modification is an actual change in the material that the child is being taught, this would be equivalent to finding a much shorter tree for them to pick from or chopping the tree down altogether (often the result of a 1:1 aide spoon feeding the answers).
c. You have the right to hear each goal the teacher is thinking of and give you input and help develop that goal even further.
In a perfect world, sure maybe 30 minutes is enough for this process to take place, and if a parent is unaware that they can request that the team slows down so they understand what is going on a team chair may simply bulldoze through. You have rights exercise them.
2. During a triennial reevaluation, 45 minutes will NEVER be enough time, unless the team chair is a bully and is trying to push you through this process. Or in some cases the Team chair does not know what they are doing in the first place.
a. You have the absolute right to understand the testing that has taken place and will be part of the basis to find your child either eligible or ineligible for special education.
i. You must give informed consent to the completed IEP
1. You cannot give informed consent is you did not understand the report that you should have been given at least 2 days prior to the meeting.
a. That means you have the right to ask the evaluator to explain the testing and ask questions. Should the team leader ask to move on for times sake, you may inform that person that you will not be able to give informed consent without having all of your questions answered – you may then ask them if they wish to reconvene the meeting when they have allotted more time.
i. The Team MUST follow all of the steps set out by Massachusetts for determining any suspected disability.
1. Each disability has its own requirements and in some cases check lists or flow charts that must be followed, often if a child has one disability that should not have a co-morbid disability listed on the IEP. Ask the Team Chair to go over each category if you are unsure.
Just a small side step, I have had quite a few under educated Team Chairs, that not only did not have a copy of the disability regulations on hand, but did not even understand that she was required to go through them.
a. This will take 15 minutes on its own.
ii. The next hurdle is making progress, and that will either go quickly if the child is still eligible (it often does) or it will go slowly because we now have a fight on our hands to keep the IEP.
c. Creation of the IEP
i. Now we must create the IEP. Remember the creation of an IEP happens at this table, it should never be predetermined.
1. What about Draft IEP
a. They can be useful tools
However, you have the right to read every word so hopefully they sent you an advanced copy, if not you have the right for them to explain each goal and your child’s current performance level.
If they put up a fight on this remind them that the commentary of the federal regulations discourages draft IEPs as they tend to inhibit full participation of the parents and open discussion of the child’s needs.
1. In other words, your are violating my rights as a parent if we do not create this together.
As you can see, this process is a lengthy one, and 30-45 minutes will not be enough time, you have rights. Exercise them – or give me a call I would be happy to help 781-479-9543.
William Peever, J.D.