Presentation on theme: "The Contentious IEP Meeting"— Presentation transcript:
1 The Contentious IEP Meeting Preparing for and Conducting a Legally Compliant IEP MeetingJuliann Greene
2 Objectives Highlight laws which guide our special education practices Clarify models to resolve complaintsIdentify useful and objective strategies to be prepared for all IEP meetings
3 Parent participation, it’s the law. The Education for All Handicapped Children Act (PL )Active Parent Participation (a right to participate)1st law to guarantee Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)
4 Parent participation, it’s the law. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) developed in 1990“Handicapped child”“child with a disability”LRE less subjective – maximum extent appropriate . . .educated with children without disabilitiesSchools + parents to collaborate in development of IEP
5 Collaboration Defined (Friend and Cook, 2003) A style of direct interactionBetween at least 2 co-equal partiesEngaged voluntarily in shared decision-makingWork towards a common goal for students
6 3 Formal Procedures for Resolving Disputes (IDEA) Due process hearing, mediation, and formal complaintsReactive in nature there are serious limitations to each.
7 Due Process HearingDistrict and family participate in a legal procedureFocus on the evaluation and resolution of an issue of disputeIncludes standard elements of discovery, presentation of evidence, sworn testimony including expert witnesses, and cross examination are presented in front of a hearing officerHearing officer acts as a judge, objectively listens . . .decisions strictly adhere to the lawCosts accrued per hearing can range between $50,000 to $100,000 (CADRE, 2008)School districts across the United States spend more than $90 million a year in conflict resolutions (CADRE, 2008)Due process is costly, combative, and leaves the resolution to an outsider.
8 Mediation Mediation = first step to due process hearing requests Potential alternative to due process proceduresOften offered after due process is threatenedMay be viewed as a procedural delay to obtaining a formal hearingAttorneys are allowed to attend mediations (argumentative strategies)
9 Formal Complaint “Resolution Sessions” (IDEA 2004) Formal procedure – offered after written due process complaintLEA, parents, and all relevant school staff to meet (<15 days of receiving notice) of a due process complaintWithout the presence of an attorneyIntention is to give the LEA an opportunity to resolve the dispute that is the basis for the complaint
10 Outside FacilitatorPaid facilitator (outside) assists with the overall organization of and conduct at the IEP meetingObjectively maintaining order and focus during the meeting.Provided at no cost to the familyOften less expensive for the district than going through a due process or mediationFacilitators ensure that IDEA regulations and IEP procedures are followed, all team members are able to participate, and the group remains on task
11 Stephen Covey (1989) “Seek first to understand . . . then to be understood.”Perspective Activity – look at the next page, be prepared to discuss what you see.
14 Where are these disagreements coming from? Perceptions of the problem . . . Families of children diagnosed with autism were interviewed (all had negative initial experiences) . . .treated with more respect when brought an advocate (Fish 2006).Couples of children with autism were interviewed Initial eligibility/IEP meetings: confused, lost, couldn't process all of the information (Stoner et al 2005)
15 More parent perceptions . . . Parents of students receiving special education services reported. . . overall IEP experiences were viewed as positive. Input valued, treated with respect, equal decision makers (Fish, 2008).Increased family satisfaction with increased collaboration – student centered IEP (Childre & Chambers, 2005)
16 More parent perceptions . . . room for improvement (language) Families with language barriers (Spanish, Chinese, and Korean)All indicated feeling isolated during meetingsLEA meet with interpreters before the meeting to review special education terminologyEducators to speak in short sentences, accurate translationLEA educate families on how to prepare for IEP meetings (Salas, 2004; Lo, 2008, Cho & Gannotti 2006)
17 Teacher and Parent perceptions Teachers expressed more positive perceptions of the IEP process than parents (when both parties asked the same questions). (Simon 2006).How parents can improve the IEP process (Fish 2006):- taking the initiative to educate themselves about special education issues, law and the IEP process. -be persistent in requesting needed services for their child-speak up during meetings, and be unafraid to ask questions and make suggestions.
18 Parents and Educators . . .same vision We share the same goal – the best education possible for the childUnderstand perspectives of the “other side”Open communication, research based and effective intervention practices, and an individualized service delivery model that meets the child’s needs.
19 Reframing (Childre & Chambers, 2005; Esquivel, Ryan, & Bonner, 2008; Weishaar, 2010). Share knowledge of the child as an individual and avoid defining the child by his disabilityDescribe the child as having unique needs, abilities, interests and weaknessesStrength-based IEPs emphasize reframing : new perspective and vocabulary“Unable to read” “follows along attentively while the class reads aloud.”Describe the behavior in observable terms rather than as the personality of the student“He is violent and a danger to his peers,” “he threw a chair at another student.”Intent of reframing is not to be dishonest about a student, but to look for strengths in the characteristic.
20 Reframing ActivityChoose one student with a disability from your class. Write a list of five terms or phrases you use to describe this child with disabilities.Now make a list of five positive attributes (“Can” statements) to relate to each term or phrase you listed.Try reframing by using these phrases for the next IEP meeting.
21 A good idea for all IEP meetings . . . “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” - Benjamin Franklin
22 Preparing and Staffing Before the IEP Meeting Good preparation is the most important means of avoiding a conflicted and tense meeting and increasing the odds of a positive outcome.School staff faced with a potentially contentious IEP meeting must prepare for the meeting in an organized manner.
23 Preparing before an IEP meeting (cont.) Anticipate and identify issues most likely to create conflict between the school and the parentsOften clear . . .change of placements, informal statements to staff about a general education teacher not making required accommodationsIf unclear Investigate (call, ask, review previous IEP conference notes/parent input)
24 Avoid PRE-DETERMINATION H.B.v. Las Virgenes Unified School District(Student returning to district from private school placement)“Predetermination occurs when an educational agency has made its determination prior to the IEP meeting, including when it presents one placement option at a meeting and is unwilling to consider other alternatives.”“School district violates IDEA procedures if it independently develops and IEP without meaningful parental participation, then presents it to the parent.”“Although an educational agency is not required to accede to parents’ desired placement, it must maintain an open mind about placement decisions and be willing to consider placement proposed by the parents.”
25 PRE-DETERMINATION (Learning from others’ mistakes . . .) T.P v. Mamaroneck Union Free School District (2nd Cir. 2009). District’s autism expert reviewed outside evaluation, prepared chart comparing her evaluation results with the outside evaluators . . .ruling for district, no pre-determination because parents actively participated in the meeting.Deal v. Hamilton County Board of Education (6th Cir. 2004).The district “pre-determined” that a child with autism would not be provided with an ABA programYell and Drasgow (2000) evaluated due process hearings and revealed that the quality of collaboration is significant (parents need to be equal participants). Many districts made procedural errors by not making parents equal partners in the IEP.
26 Avoiding Pre-Determination . . . Doyle v. Arlington County School Board (E.D. Va. 1992)“School officials must come to the IEP meeting with an open mind. But this does not mean that they should come to the IEP table with a blank mind. . .it can, and should, have given some thought to that placement.”IDEA principle of parent participation means parents have meaningful and full participation as partners in decision making/development of IEP
27 Preparing before an IEP meeting (cont.) Preparatory activities O.K. (informal, unscheduled conversations involving public agency personnel – methodology, lesson plans, coordination of services, response to parent proposal that will be discussed at a later meeting)Brainstorm and develop a variety of options for anticipated issuesEach option must represent different means of reaching the same result FAPE
28 3 Components of the IEP process PreparationPresentationDocumentation
29 Preparation Practice reframing (Weishaar, 2010) Talk to parents when arranging an IEP meeting:-purpose-how to prepare (review current IEP, think about priorities, school concerns . . .)-free to bring someone-any concerns the school should be aware ofSuggested use of parent checklist (pre-meeting)
30 Sample parent checklist -can be sent home before IEP meeting (Kroth and Edge, 1997) How to get ready:Make a list of questions and concernsAsk your child if he has any questions for the teacherArrange for a babysitter for small childrenQuestions you may want to ask:What subjects does my child do well in/struggle?Does my child get along with others?Does my child listen to the teacher?How can I help at home?Questions you may be asked:What does your child like about school?What type of discipline works well at home?(Brainstorm these questions with the IEP teams in your school)
31 Sample parent checklist -can be sent home before IEP meeting (cont Sample parent checklist -can be sent home before IEP meeting (cont.)(Kroth and Edge, 1997)The day of the conference:Arrive on time.Bring a pen and paper to take notes.Share information regarding your child’s strengths and your concerns.After the conference:Talk to your child about the conference.Follow up with the teacher.Put IEP in a safe place (or file) for future reference.
32 Preparing before an IEP meeting (cont Preparing before an IEP meeting (cont.) (Fish, 2008; Klor, 2007; Simon, 2006; Weishaar, 2010)Drafts are OKShare draft goals in advance when possibleMake changes to the draft at the meeting in response to parents’ inputClearly mark goals as “Draft”, “Draft subject to IEP discussion” . . .indicate the document is a work in progress until the meeting/parent input is obtained
33 Preparing before an IEP meeting (cont.) DATA, DATA, DATA If a parent perceives that the behavior of a child with and emotional disorder has deteriorated, and believes that this is due to a lack of appropriate training of the teacher on behavior supports,Then campus data on the day to day behaviors should be collected, categorized and studied carefully against older data. Close study of the data may reveal that the patterns of behavior are similar to past years, or patterns of increased or decreased frequency can be identified … allowing the dispute to be resolved informally and peacefully.
34 Preparing before an IEP meeting (cont.) Ensure attendance of all IEP teammembers and participants (IDEA)-Parents-General education teacher-Special education teacher-LEA Representative (ie. administrative or supervisory representative strongly recommended-knowledge about curriculum and resources)-Other individuals (at the discretion of parent or school . . .including related service personnel)-Child with disability, when appropriateEnsure appropriate site for the meeting
35 Preparing before an IEP meeting (cont.) (Klor, 2007) Reasonable time limits; write times in the IEP meeting noticeMeetings that last for several hours can work against collaborative approach that IDEA seeks to promote during meetings.Tempers can flair, mistakes can be madeSet reasonable time limits (all participants can schedule day accordingly)At the beginning of meeting, restate limits, and indicate when time is close, team can press to finish or reconvene at earliest convenience.
36 Presentation at an IEP meeting: (Klor, 2007; Wieshaar, 2006) Use an agendaNametags/introductionsSeat parent next to note taker (avoid distraction)Provide the parent with paper/pen to take notesBe respectful, avoid calling parents “mom”, “dad”, don’t describe child as “kid”Ask parents often if they have any questions (not at the end). Ask input regarding goals/priorities.Discuss what the child can do and will be able to do
37 Documentation (Weishaar, 2010) Make changes to draft at meetingTake time to review private evaluation dataFocus documentation on what the child can do now, and what the child will be able to do. (Difficult to be accountable when there is no clear statement of what the child can do prior to intervention)Documentation should be in observable, measurable statements.Decisions should stress careful planningIf you run out of time . . .reconvene (rushing leads to errors and potential conflict).
38 A well run IEP meetingBoth parties come to the meeting prepared to discuss the student’s educationReduces conflictReduces teacher and parent anxietyBreeds respectMay shorten meetingsPositively impacts parents’ perceptions of schools
39 Dealing with difficult moments Preventing a meeting from deteriorating is easier than getting it back on track once it has fallen apartTake a breakRemind participants of the need for collaborative attitudesRemind team members that disagreement can and must be resolvedFocus: problem solving task/planning for resolution
41 Dealing with difficult moments Restate, out-loud, the specific area of disagreementKeep the meeting moving (avoid side discussions, refer to agenda, suggest parent meet with individual privately about side issues)Allocate staff members with specific tasks/timelinesEven difficult meetings should close on a positive note
42 General rule for schools: Don’t let the meeting conclude in non-consensus unless:It is worth fighting overThe school’s position is legally defensibleSchool staff is unsafe
43 What if we can’t agree?The IEP team should work towards general agreement, but if it is not able to do so, it is the school district which must determine the appropriate services.The school district must provide the parent with prior written notice of the school district’s determination regarding the student’s educational program and the parent’s right to seek a resolution (due process hearing, mediation, and formal state complaints.)Letter to Richards, 55 IDELR 107(OSEP, 2010)
44 Post-meeting planning Follow up with all professionals . . .make sure no one is confused about “who is going to do what”Deadlines for task implementationMonitoring duties/scheduleDocument issues for follow-up meetings
45 Stephen Covey: Circles of Influence and Control (1989) Proactive: being “response-able”; take responsibility for your life and choicesReactive: impacted by physical environment; external forces predict outcomeCircle of influence: focus on the things you can do something about (health, children, problems at work)Circle of concern: focus on conditions where you have no control (weather, economy, administrative changes, other teachers behavior)You can increase your circle of influence and decrease your circle of concerns by being proactiveActivity
47 ReferencesCenter for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education (CADRE),(2008). Part B – Three year annual report summaries for written complaints, mediations and due process. Eugene, OR: Author.Childe, A. & Chambers, C. (2005). Family perceptions of student centered planningand IEP meetings. Education and Training in Developmental Disabilities, 40(3),Cho, S. & Gannotti, M. (2005). Korean-American mothers’ perception of professionalsupport in early intervention and special education programs. Journal of Policyand Practice in Intellectual Disabilities, 2(1) 1-9.Covey, S. (1989). The 7 habits of highly effective people: Powerful lessons in personalchange. New York: Simon and Schuster.Esquivel, S., Ryan, C. and Bonner, M. (2008). Involved parents’ perceptions of theirexperiences in school-based team meetings. Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation, 18(3),Fish, W. (2008). The IEP meeting: perceptions of parents of students who receivespecial education services. Preventing School Failure, 53(1), 8-14.Fish, W. (2006). Perceptions of parents of students with autism towards the IEPmeeting: A case study of on family support group chapter. Education, 127(1),Friend, M., & Cook, L. (2003). Interactions: Collaboration skills for schoolprofessionals (4th ed.) Boston: Allyn & Bacon.Hardman, M. & Dawson, S. (2008). The impact of federal public policy on curriculumand instruction for students with disabilities in the general classroom. PreventingSchool Failure, 52(2), 5-10.
48 References (cont.)Klor, G. (2007). Leading successful IEP teams: A guide to managing the people and theprocess. Horsham, Pennsylvania: LRP Publications.Kroth, R., & Edge, D. (1997). Strategies for Communicating with Parents of Exceptional Children:Improving Parent-teacher Relationships. Denver, CO: Love Publishing Company.Lo, L. (2008). Chinese families’ level of participation and experiences in IEP meetings.Preventing School Failure, 53(1),Mueller, T. (2009). IEP Facilitation: A promising approach to resolving conflictsbetween families and school: Council for Exceptional Children,Salas, L. (2004). Individualized educational plan (IEP) meetings and Mexican Americanparents: Let’s talk about it. Journal of Latinos and Education 3(3),Simon, J. (2006). Perceptions of the IEP requirement. Teacher Education and SpecialEducation, 29(4),Stoner, J. B., Bock, S. J., Thomson, J. R., Angell, M. E., Heyl, B.S., and Crowley, E. P.(2005). Welcome to our world: Parent perceptions of interactions betweenparents of young children with ASD and education professionals. Focus onAutism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 20(1),Weishaar, P. (2010). Twelve ways to incorporate strengths-based planning into the IEPprocess. The Clearing House, 83,Yell, M. & Drasgow, E. (2000). Litigating a free appropriate public education: TheLovaas hearings and cases. The Journal of Special Education, 33(4),