Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Parent's Perspective — Why My Son Attended His Own IEP Meetings

By Ilise from New Jersey (Parent)

My son Jay was identified with multiple learning disabilities when he was just a toddler. When he was admitted to a school in New York for special education students, no one knew whether he could ever learn to read. I do not know where in his soul he found the drive and motivation, but he learned to do what many people said could not be done — he learned to read at age nine.

Jay's school was filled with specialists who custom tailored his classes to meet his special needs. But then came the greater challenge. Could he learn subjects such as history, literature, and foreign languages in a regular classroom?

When Jay arrived in a regular middle school, he had compensation strategies thanks to successful early intervention. But his new regular classroom teachers did not know about strategies that would be appropriate for him. They were untrained and unaccustomed to his special needs.

Jay's accommodations were written into his IEP, but the school staff and district administrators refused to read them. So, it was perhaps not surprising that they discouraged Jay from attending his own IEP meetings. Administrators told Jay that he needed to work harder in class and needed the meeting time for coursework. And they told me that he would be traumatized by the reports about himself from the IEP team.

As his parent, I felt that Jay needed to attend every IEP meeting. If he was going to understand what was happening in his education, he had to be part of the process. I couldn't imagine a successful IEP without his buy-in. He had a far better understanding of what was really going on because he was in the classroom.

At one of his IEP meetings, the staff asserted that Jay had made so much progress that he no longer needed an IEP, and that he should be found ineligible for special education services. They were basing this partly on a recent 6th grade standardized test score. There wasn't much logic to their argument.

Read more of the National Center for Learning Disabilities article HERE.
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