There may come a time when you disagree with the IEP team or about how your child is being educated. Depending on the situation, you might feel as if you don’t know what the next steps should be. That’s why I’ve compiled the following list of ten things to do to navigate disagreements with your child’s teacher, the school or an IEP team.
Want the cheat sheet? Get it HERE.
Step 1: Compile Your Concerns
The first thing you need to do when you have a disagreement with your child’s school or IEP team is to make a list of all of your concerns. Then, put those items in order from most concerning to least concerning and select the top 2 – and only the top 2!
Why? Parents and student support teams get overwhelmed because they list all of their concerns, convey them at the IEP meeting and nothing gets done. When you focus on two at a time, you can plug away at your concerns and see progress made.
Step 2: Focus on Safety
Of course, if any of the concerns on your list involve safety, those should make their way to the top of the list. Address any safety concerns with the IEP team or the school prior to any other concerns you might have.
Step 3: Request a Meeting
Whether it’s an IEP, 504, or a parent-teacher conference, request an in-person meeting to discuss any differences of opinion. So much can be lost in translation with communication that’s not face-to-face and can lead to additional frustration for both parties.
Step 4: Communicate in Writing
Parents should put their concerns in writing before the meeting takes place. I’ve seen parents that hold onto their grievances so that they will have the upper hand in an upcoming meeting, but that’s not the way to get the best results for your child. Instead, allow the team time to gather information and talk to the correct people. By doing so, they’ll show up to the meeting willing to produce solutions rather than having to say that they’ll look into it.
Step 5: Focus on the Disagreement
Remember to stay focused on the disagreement and NOT on the person. When your focus remains on the issues, you allow everyone to hear what you have to say without feeling defensive. Ultimately, you want them to make changes that help your child get a better education, right?
Step 6: Understand the Law
Before you walk into that meeting (or share your grievances via email), make sure you know what the school is responsible for and what is out of their purview. Asking for things that are not within the school’s realm of responsibility will leave you and the entire team feeling frustrated.
Step 7: Share Positives
Everyone loves to hear the positive outcomes of the services they provide. Make an effort to share them with the team, even if you have concerns.
Step 8: Find Support
Having people around you that make you feel confident is critical for the success of your child. If you don’t feel confident walking into a meeting or that you are getting the best results, then it’s time to seek out help. Look for someone that respects your values, understands the system, and focuses on collaborating with the team. When you bring someone on that has the knowledge and experience to give you accurate information and advocate for you in a way that builds strong teams, the end result will be an educational plan that best supports your child’s needs.
Step 9: Consider the Differences between State and Federal Laws
Keep in mind that federal law protects students no matter where they live, but state law varies. Ask questions and understand the legal implications before you head into that next meeting. This is another good reason to have someone on your team that’s familiar with the processes and legalities of the special education system.
Step 10: Just Breathe
Finally, take a moment to just breathe.
Breathe before you write that list.
Breathe before you edit.
Breathe before the meeting.
Just breathe and recognize that, while you may disagree with the IEP team, there are solutions out there and when you work together with the team, rather than against them, you are much more likely to get what your child needs.
Disagree with IEP Team? Get Support Today!
In the meantime, if you need additional support navigating the world of Special Education, I’d love to help! Schedule your FREE consultation today and let’s chat about the specific needs of you and your child and make a plan that leads to success!