Strategies, Tips, and Language to Support Parent and Educators Through the IEP Process

Strategies, Tips, and Language to Support Parent and Educators Through the IEP Process

Denise Francis (IEP Help StL, LLC, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-7732-5.ch003
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This chapter provides strategies, tips, and language through the IEP process from the first person perspective of a parent turned parent-advocate. This chapter shares with educators what the experience is like from a parent side of the table and the emotions involved. It also is meant to help build a knowledge base for parents and encouragement from the author's perspective as a parent. Lastly, this chapter shows that there are ways to bring the student's voice into their IEP regardless of their communication ability.
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Figure Out The Lingo

The first thing I advise parents to do is familiarize the themselves with the alphabet soup of the special ed world- all of the acronyms there are about 150 of them out there. A great resource is . If there is a term which is unfamiliar, ask or look it up before the meeting.

I don’t remember much about my first IEP Meeting. It went so fast, and we knew my son qualified for services. Afterall, at the ripe age of 3, he had already been expelled from 3 preschools and reduced to 90 minutes attendance for another and he had major behavioral challenges. There were so many abbreviations ana acronyms, I just nodded, completely lost but not wanting to admit it.


Next, Learn Your Rights!

There are three ways to learn about rights. One, take the time to search and read free IDEA law, some case information and weed through lawyer talk. This is minimal financial cost but expensive time cost. Second, take a “Wrightslaw” training course ( This includes on demand lectures, books and newsletter. There is a financial cost and a time cost.

However, the benefit of self-advocating is unparalleled. Lastly, you can hire your own advocate. This is high in financial cost and much lower in time cost.

I believe a child’s best advocate is the parents, so I advise Wrightslaw training, books and resources along with advocates when you need them, as sounding board, or subject matter expert depending on the advocate. But, knowing the basics of the law and where to find information is the first step in your own advocacy.

The best place to start is with the main point of IDEA of 2004 - 20 U.S.C § 1400 (d) Purpose

(1)(A) to ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment and independent living.

(B) to ensure that the rights of children with disabilities and parents of such are protected

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