Mandatory IEP Team Members - Who are they?
Hey there IEP families and friends! I wanted to talk to you today about something that I’m hearing a lot in conversations within the special needs community regarding the assembly of IEP meetings…mandatory members – specifically who NEEDS to be there VS who actually attends.
What I’m Hearing
So, I’m hearing things like “We did our child’s IEP meeting during the parent teacher conference, the teacher and speech therapist were there” OR “I got an email from the school that they held a special IEP meeting and were making some changes”
What Is True
The federal law that governs special education, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or IDEA, is VERY specific when it comes to who MUST attend the IEP meeting.
There are 5 mandatory roles:
1) The parent.
NOTE: Not only do you have the right to attend but you are required to be involved with the development of your child’s IEP. So if you are not attending meetings, either by not being invited or your own choice then you are not contributing important information and observations which in turn may be limiting the services and supports your child receives.
2) A general education teacher who has interactions with your child
3) A special education teacher who has interactions with your child
4) A district representative who meets certain requirements
NOTE: Sometimes the district will send a principal, vice principal, case manager…or even the occasional guidance counselor to be the representative. But these people might not meet the requirements of IDEA.
District representative requirements are:
- qualified to provide, or supervise the provision of, specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of children with disabilities;
- knowledgeable about the general education curriculum; and
- knowledgeable about the availability of resources of the local educational agency (school district).
In other words, the district representative must have supervisory capabilities over special education curriculum and services, they need to have knowledge of the general education curriculum, and of the services available as well as placement options within the district.
And what that all means is – they can make decisions regarding your child’s education and services without having to check with someone else about whether the school district can provide the services. So if you hear things like “I’ll have to get back with you on that”, “I need to check with so and so”, etc.. then chances are the representative doesn’t qualify.
5) Someone who can interpret the data
NOTE: IDEA isn’t very specific on who this person is other than “an individual who can interpret the instructional implications of evaluation results”. Basically what that means is that person can take the data and translate it into a plan of action and services for your child.
It’s been my experience, both personally and with my clients, that the school psychologist is the person in this role because that is their expertise. However, any one of the teachers or district rep can cover this role as long as they are qualified to do so.
In addition to the mandatory members there are also permissive members which IDEA describes as:
1) “at the discretion of the parent or the agency, other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the child, including related services personnel as appropriate”
NOTE: “Other individuals” may mean advocates, IEP Coaches or other support persons for the parent, guidance counselors, therapists or anyone else that has specific and valuable information that can be used for developing the IEP.
2) “whenever appropriate, the child with a disability.”
NOTE: Children, especially as they get a little older can and should have the opportunity to contribute their concerns or thoughts for their education. It’s important though that the child is mature enough and emotionally capable of understanding what is being said at the meeting.
If any mandatory IEP team member is not at the meeting they MUST have been excused at the discretion of the parent. You have the right to ask for the meeting to be postponed until ALL members can attend to ensure that FAPE is being provided to your child and that the IEP is correctly developed and implemented.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact me for more information on how you can work with me to navigate the IEP waters with confidence.
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