This article is part 1 of a series on writing IEP's and how the law says an IEP meeting should be handled. This part in particular discusses who should be participating in the meeting and their role both in the meeting and in the creation of the IEP.
- The Intervention Specialist: Typically this is the person who uses the information gathered by the other members of the IEP team to write the IEP goals. While it is very likely the other members will have input in the actual goals themselves, the rough draft that is gone over during the meeting is typically created by this person.
- A psychologist (or other person legally capable of interpreting standardized testing data): This person should give the child any norm-referenced assessments used to determine placement. This is not the same thing as giving them an assessment tool from a reading program or other program specific test, this would be a specific professional tool such as an IQ test, like the Weschler Intelligence Scale.
- An Administrator: Unless your child spends a great deal of time in the office due to behavior, it is unlikely that the administration will provide much input in the goals themselves, only in the schools financial and personnel capabilities of meeting those goals. For example: the administrator should know who is certified in what reading, writing, and math programs and better direct the staff placement, scheduling, or timing of the interventions.
- A regular education teacher: The role of this person varies based on your student's needs. If your son or daughter is in a self-contained classroom (unlikely due to RTI and full inclusion models) then the teacher would be providing input with regards to the grade level curriculum; if your child is included in the regular classroom the teacher will likely provide observation and student work sample data to be considered when creating the IEP goals. They may also provide input into the appropriate goals for the student, answer questionnaires regarding the student's abilities, and even suggest an area that needs support.
- The Parents: As a parent you are responsible for making sure your student is receiving what you believe is fair and helpful support from their school. You have the opportunity to be heard at a meeting and while you may be concerned about coming off as aggressive, there is nothing more important than your child's education within reason. It is unlikely that the federal government can possibly fund every child receiving 2 hours a day of reading instruction, but if you feel your child needs extra support in that area, especially if the data supports it, surely they can fund 30 minutes a few times a week?
- The Others: You as the parent may invite other people to attend the meetings where you deem necessary. This may be your partner, a step-parent, babysitter, close friend, lawyer, or whomever you feel is best able to provide support for you and your child in the meeting. In addition, there may be more than one subject area teacher, more than one administrator, a special education coordinator, Educational Service Center representative, school counselors, reading specialists, paraprofessionals, bus drivers, and other staff members that may work closely with your child. If you feel there is a staff member in particular who is not part of 1-4 and you would like for them to participate in the IEP proceedings you may request their presence as well.
This is not an exhaustive list of IEP team members, but covers the majority of the adults who would be likely to participate. In addition, once your child reaches an age where you feel they can participate in some of the decision making they may also begin attending the IEP meetings. This is typically at or around their 14 birthday when a plan for transitioning to high school and looking at post-secondary and career options.