The end of summer and beginning of a new school year can be a stressful time for parents with a child who has an IEP or 504 Plan. There are things parents can do to help get the new school year off to a great start.
Establish a Good Relationship with Your Child’s Teacher.
Your child’s teacher or teachers have a lot of responsibilities leading up to the new school year. Don’t assume that they have the time to review your child’s IEP or 504 Plan. That doesn’t mean that you approach your child’s new teacher or teachers in a hostile manner and put them on the defensive. Many teachers appreciate a parent who provides a summary of strengths and struggles of an incoming child with a disability. Provide your child’s teacher with a copy of their IEP or 504 Plan. I always recommend adding information regarding strategies that have worked for other teachers. Be sure to close out the letter thanking them for their time and letting them know that you are there to support your student and the teacher.
Review Your Child’s Most Recent IEP.
It is important to review your child’s IEP to make sure you understand your child’s current goals and what the school agreed to provide. If you have questions regarding the clarity of any provisions of the IEP, write to your child’s case manager or the appropriate service provide and ask for clarification. If informal attempts to clarify provisions of your child’s IEP are unsuccessful, call an IEP meeting.
Take Time to Organize Your Paperwork.
I recommend parents start a new folder or binder every year. The folder or binder should be used to keep track of relevant IEPs, communication, progress reports, assessments, and meeting notes. I also recommend parents keep copies of work samples that show your child’s strengths and weaknesses. These documents will be helpful during future IEP meetings and in the event disagreements lead to due process.
Determine if Any New Issues Have Arisen.
The new school year is a good time to think about whether new academic, social, organization, or behavior concerns have arisen. Inform the IEP team in writing regarding any new concerns. Don’t wait for your child to struggle, or worse fail.
If you believe your child’s IEP does not provide FAPE or your child’s 504 Plan is no longer sufficient, consult with an attorney on how to get things on the right track.
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