Preparing for Your Child’s Annual Review
By Margaret Vogt
The annual review of your child’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is just around the corner, and it pays to be prepared. In order to make the most of the annual Committee on Special Education meeting (“CSE”), it is important that parents arrive prepared to discuss their child’s special education program.
You should have been receiving progress reports throughout the year from your child’s teachers and therapists. About a month prior to the annual review date, reread the IEP and all interim reports. Think about the current program and whether it is working for your child. If there are new evaluations or a summary report, obtain them ahead of time. Take the time to reach out to your child’s teachers and service providers to get their input.
Talk to your child concerning how he/she feels about the school experience. What’s working and what’s a struggle? Which services are helping and what else might be useful?
Think carefully about your child’s progress during the previous year and take an inventory of what was successful and where the program may be improved.
Write down your concerns and questions ahead of time. Don’t be afraid to ask very specific questions-why, when, what, where, with whom? Be an active participant in the meeting.Remember that you are a member of the CSE and, therefore, you have a voice in all decisions.
Read the meeting notice to learn who has been invited. If you don’t already know everyone on the list, try to meet them beforehand. If you believe that additional school personnel should be included, ask the CSE chair to invite them. In fact, you can bring anyone to the meeting you wish-a grandparent who acts as part-time caregiver, a therapist you pay privately, or simply someone to lend moral support. Identify anyone who can contribute helpful information.
Finally, trust your knowledge concerning your child, keep the meeting focused on his/her unique needs, and try to relax. Remember that your perspective contributes significant value, and be persistent until your concerns are resolved.
Remember, too, that Littman Krooks LLP has many years of experience negotiating appropriate educational services for children with special needs-whether at CSE meetings, disciplinary and Impartial Hearings, or through a State Complaint.