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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

IEP Responses - Top 5 Tips for Parents

From Attorney Lillian Wong's Blog

By Lillian Wong, Esq.
April 3, 2014

Its spring and that usually means that many parents are attending their child’s annual IEP meetings and receiving the resulting IEP proposal. Before you send in your IEP response respond, consider these recommendations:

1.) Respond. Don’t procrastinate or forget to respond. If you don’t respond to the IEP proposal it is considered rejected. If the IEP is rejected, new IEP goals, services and accommodations will not be implemented. Failing to respond also sends the wrong message. It makes you look like you don’t care about your child’s education.

2.) Accept what you can. Don’t blanketly reject the entire IEP just because you don’t agree with parts of it. If you think your child needs additional services or even a change in placement, accept the supports you and the District both agree your child needs. Also, accept the IEP goals, at least for the purposes of progress reporting. If not, you will continue to receive progress reports on last year’s goals.

3.) If you aren’t accepting the entire IEP, what are you rejecting? It’s amazing how many services are not implemented because the District couldn’t decipher the parents’ IEP response. Anyone reading your IEP response should be able to quickly scan it and know what parts to implement.

4.) Be Concise. IEP responses are not novels. If the IEP is more than one page, it is less likely to be read and understood. Prioritize your response based on your child’s needs, and try to avoid the appearance of micro-managing the team.

5.) Keep a Copy: Don’t mail your only copy of your IEP response to the District. Keep a copy of your response and attach it to your copy of the proposed IEP. It’s important for you to keep a record of your response, especially if you ever end up in a dispute with the District.

If you are still confused about how to respond to your child's IEP, contact an educational advocate or special education lawyer.

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Attorney Wong has represented clients at IEP meetings, manifestation determinations, due process hearings and settlement negotiations. She has advocated for her clients' inclusion in the general education setting, and helped others obtain private placements.

Ms. Wong is a graduate of UCLA Law School and Dartmouth College (Summa Cum Laude) and a member of the Massachusetts Bar Association (MBA), the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA), The Special Needs Advocacy Network (SPAN), and Massachusetts Advocates for Children's Coalition to Defend Special Education. Ms. Wong sits on the Advisory Board of Autism Asperger's Digest, and was selected to the 2013 Super Lawyer New England "Rising Star" list.

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