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Teebst
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20 May 2011, 9:48 am

I am new to the IEP process and so far I think I may be a little behind. We got our daughter assessed and they qualified her for speech therapy, OT and special ed preschool (if we want it). We have decided to just do the therapies as socially she's just not ready for preschool.

I'm a little worried about our school district. They seem really nice, but I think that may just be an act so I don't notice the details. They scheduled a meeting to go over our assessments, at no time mentioning it was the official IEP meeting. When we got to the meeting there was a room full of administrators and teachers, so I was immediately caught off guard and overwhelmed. They showed us the draft of the IEP document and had us sign something that said we'd seen it, but we didn't get to bring a copy home. The issue of stims were brought up, as I feel they should not be interfered with, but they said they would redirect her if she was hurting another student. Um...her flapping bothers no one.

Now they are calling me and saying I need to have a decision next week. They said I have 30 days from the meeting to decide, but they are only giving me 17 days since its the end of the school year. I am getting ready to call them and let them know we decided to go with only the therapies, but I would like a draft copy before anything is finalized.

My questions are:

1. Am I entitled to a draft copy of the IEP before its finalized?
2. Can they shorten my time period of 30 days if its the end of the school year?
3. Can I request a copy of the actual assessment, not just the IEP report?
4. Can I request that they not interfere with flapping and other stims?
5. Am I getting jerked around, or am I just being oversensitive?

Thank you in advance for any help offered.



cutiecrystalmom
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20 May 2011, 10:04 am

Not knowing where you are at, or what the IEP process is in your area, I can still say I think you are getting the bums rush out the door. Stand up and make sure they know YOU are the parent and YOU are the expert on your child. If you are in the states I think there is something called Wright's Law, I have seen it mentioned frequently on this site. I haven't read it as I live in Canada, but I have seen it mentioned quite a bit. The IEP is a legally binding document, so you want to make sure you are in agreement with the plans that are being put in place for your child. Set your ground rules. Send a letter stating that you will be informed of any and all meetings pertaining to the IEP in a timely manner. Communicate that you were caught off guard by the number of administrators in the room and let them know you will appreciate being told of who will be attending future meetings in advance. Is there an advocacy group in your area? Perhaps give them a call, they should have some answers to your questions. Good luck!



TMRitz
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20 May 2011, 12:41 pm

1. Am I entitled to a draft copy of the IEP before its finalized?
Yes they are supposed to give you one. I am sure it was an oversite

2. Can they shorten my time period of 30 days if its the end of the school year?
No however, if it is the end of the school they will try. Just remember you can ask for a new IEP meeting ANYTIME. so if you decide at the begining of the year you don't like how the old way feels you can have it changed. YOU have the power and they can try to push you to what they think or what is easy for them but the final say is yours

3. Can I request a copy of the actual assessment, not just the IEP report?
Yes you have a Legal right to that as well.

4. Can I request that they not interfere with flapping and other stims?
Yes you can. We have issues on our son's IEP listed as "ignore" they are to ignore these items when they occur. I think it is on the BIP the behavioral intervention plan.

5. Am I getting jerked around, or am I just being oversensitive?
I am bias. We had to hire an attorney to be heard so ... Just keep your eyes and ears open and if it seems wrong it probably is.



Teebst
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20 May 2011, 1:03 pm

I requested a draft copy of the IEP document and they said No, I have to wait to get the final copy in the mail.

I asked for a copy of the assessment to be faxed to my pediatrician. They said I can make a copy of the IEP document when I receive it in the mail and give it to my pediatrician. I may need to clarify I want the actual assessment itself.

I asked if they could not interfere with my daughters flapping and they said no, they will redirect that as part of her therapy as it is not appropriate behavior. We have not specifically requested a behavior intervention plan. Do I need to specifically request this so these behaviors can be listed as ignore. They are kind of acting like I have no say on this point and its greatly upsetting me.



jat
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20 May 2011, 1:19 pm

It sounds like it's time for an advocate or an attorney. Your district sounds like one of "those" districts ... the kind that lie to parents and won't listen to a word parents say. You can educate yourself (and I strongly recommend you do), but some districts don't care how educated you are - they will still dig in their heels and deny their responsibilities. WrightsLaw, that was mentioned earlier, is a good source of information. But you may still need the legal support of an attorney or an advocate. There is a section on Wrightslaw, called the Kids Yellow Pages, where resources are listed by state, where you might be able to find either the legal help you need, or a local support group that could point you in the right direction.



Kailuamom
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20 May 2011, 2:23 pm

You are allowed to request (and they must provide) advance review of any and all documents and reports that will be discussed at an IEP meeting. You are a member of the IEP team and have EVERY right to make copies of whatever the team is considering.

I don't know any laws about the stim redirection BUT as a parent who's child has meltdowns, let me tell you that if a stim is soothing and prevents your child from escalating, I would go nuts if anyone tried to stop it. That said, when my child is really rocking and chewing, I want staff to intervene, not because I care about the stim, but because his anxiety is increasing and I need the cause addressed.

Wrightslaw is a good resource, there are also lots of books about IEPs.

Honestly, I wouldn't get my knickers in a twist about the timing, unless you have a reason you need more time. If so, then let them know what it is and stick to your guns.



Teebst
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20 May 2011, 2:34 pm

Right now I'd really like to not mess with the school district altogether. I know other parents have had to spend thousands of dollars on legal representation fighting this particular school district on a different accommodation issue (food allergies). I'd really like to save the headache and not deal with them altogether since its becoming obvious all they want to do is fight about every single little detail. But then, where would I get her speech and OT :(



TMRitz
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20 May 2011, 3:02 pm

I know what you are saying. I am so TIRED of fighting with them. You will have to fight with them to make the Teachers follow the IEP once it has been signed off too. Be strong and firm. I can not remember what the name of the gov group right now but if you file a grevance they will hold ALL gov funds to the school until your childs rights are restored. I can get it for you when I get home? This is what my attorney used to get them to listen to us.



Franma
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20 May 2011, 9:14 pm

Teebst,

I had to get a lawyer too. Many people do. Your instinct about the bum's rush is probably on target. Go NOW to Wright's Law site and read read read. http://www.wrightslaw.com/idea/index.htm That link is to their resource for IDEA which is the law that governs special ed up to grade 12 in the US. They also have great advice for how to prepare for and conduct yourself at IEP meetings for effective results and how to develop an IEP that will actually help your child. You are also allowed to bring an advocate with you and it is well worth the money to hire one if you can. You will see a different attitude from the school if you have a professional who speaks their language at the table with you. After many years of doing it myself, I went to a lawyer who advised using the advocate services first before a lawyer to conserve funds and see if we could get it resolved that way. In our case, the advocates advice and help and one letter from the lawyer broke up a big stalling process I had been fighting with for years. My daughter is an adult now and looking back I wish I had known to do that much sooner. I let the school system waste valuable intervention time while I figured out "the system". The best thing you can do for your child is to educate yourself on what your rights and the process are then use that information to develop a friendly but firm relationship with the school team.


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bjcirceleb
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21 May 2011, 2:49 am

I'm in Australia so things are totally different here, but we have government funded advocacy services. They fund non profit organisations to provide free disability advocacy services and parents can use them when dealing with schools, etc. They are few and far between and can be difficult to get into, but they do exist and they can also refer onto other providers and the like.

Parents of children under the age of 6 here, now have $12,000 allocated to them for their child's use and they can use that on a range of approved therapies, with a range of approved providers, there are hundred's in each state and various ones in each city, so parents are getting some choice and not being held to ransome.

But for the most part, our services are like yours and we are held to randsom and have to beg and plead for every little bit of help, and follow what they want, or go without!!

Why can they not simply say this child has this condition and these needs, we will allocate you this amount of money and you can use it as you see fit within guidelines, and we will allow you to choose who manages the funds for you, etc. Parents know their child best and while they need help and support and advice, they are the experts, they are the ones who live with the child every single day.

Good Luck, nothing I can say that will be of any use other than to not let them dictate what you know is right. She is your daughter, you know her and you know what she needs, do not stop fighting for her and do not stop believing that you know what is best. Others can offer advice and professional expertise, but at the end of the day, you live with her day in and day out, you know her better than anyone else. You have to weight up what they advise with what you know and experience.



mom2hfason
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23 May 2011, 2:14 pm

A District must notify parents of an IEP meeting early enough to give them an opportunity to attend, and the meeting must be held at a mutually agreeable time and place. The notice must also detail the purpose of the meeting and who will be in attendance.

Prior to your IEP meetings you can, and SHOULD, request test results (and/or the evaluation results) and request that they include all raw scores, standard scores, percentiles, grade level equivalents, age equivalents, etc. and request the draft IEP if they intended on having one. Do this in writing and be prepared to go over the head of the principal or other staff at the school level if necessary. I had a terrible principal at my son's school. She was not aware of my rights. I took my requests to the director of special ed and the principal suddenly became much more cooperative.

If they balk, let them know that you are unable to be an equal participant, or be able to meaningfully participate in the IEP discussions. Also, they should have given you a copy of the "procedural safeguards" that will explain your rights.

I'm not sure about timelines, that is another area the special ed director might be able to help you out.



azurecrayon
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26 May 2011, 7:25 am

the draft copy thing is new, i believe. i just had an iep mtg yesterday for my 5 yo and they had the draft copy forms. they said it was a new procedure starting in January, now you dont get the iep at the mtg but you sign off on whats in it and they send you the final copy. i am not sure what the rules are for getting a copy of this new draft form before its finalized.

you have the right to request a copy of all assessments, and if this is the initial iep meeting those are usually included as part of the iep itself.

you have the right to request copies of the iep and all assessments BEFORE the iep mtg happens. often we parents are the only ones who havent seen those reports before the mtg, ask for a copy a few days in advance of the mtg so you may go over them and be prepared.

you can request practically anything, but it may not make it into the iep unless you push for it. certainly stims should be discussed. they may want that option to redirect simply because they do not know your child and what her stims may present as. also, stims can come and go, and she may develop one that indeed needs to be redirected.

most of what you describe doesnt sound to me like they are being uncooperative. i find that most arent actively against you, they just dont know what its like to be on the other side of the table. they do these mtgs so much, they dont know what its like to be at your childs first iep. but i also know that one person can make or break the process, and its too easy to come up against one psychologist or one principal that makes your life, and your childs iep process, a nightmare.

i like to remind them sometimes that i understand they have dozens of special needs children to service, but that my concern is for just *this one child*. its good to acknowledge you understand their money and resources are spread around, but you are going to make sure this one child gets what they need.


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partner to: D - 40 yrs med dx classic autism
mother to 3 sons:
K - 6 yrs med/school dx classic autism
C - 8 yrs NT
N - 15 yrs school dx AS


jat
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26 May 2011, 7:46 am

azurecrayon wrote:
... now you dont get the iep at the mtg but you sign off on whats in it and they send you the final copy...

The rule of thumb, around here (and from all the experts I've read/spoken to/heard from), is that you never, ever sign off on an IEP at the meeting. Ever. You need time to look it over, at home, when you are not under the stress of the situation, to make sure that nothing was overlooked. Only then can you be sure you are signing off on the document you meant to sign off on. The only form we routinely sign at the meeting is the sign in sheet that says we were there.

You canNOT sign off on a final copy of something you have not received. That makes no legal sense. If the final copy has not been drafted, it is like signing something blank and letting them fill it in. Never, ever do that.



mom2hfason
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26 May 2011, 2:16 pm

From The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) website:

Quote:
With respect to a draft IEP, we encourage public agency staff to come to an IEP Team meeting prepared to discuss evaluation findings and preliminary recommendations. Likewise, parents have the right to bring questions, concerns, and preliminary recommendations to the IEP Team meeting as part of a full discussion of the child's needs and the services to be provided to meet those needs. We do not encourage public agencies to prepare a draft IEP prior to the IEP Team meeting, particularly if doing so would inhibit a full discussion of the child's needs. However, if a public agency develops a draft IEP prior to the IEP Team meeting, the agency should make it clear to the parents at the outset of the meeting that the services proposed by the agency are preliminary recommendations for review and discussion with the parents. The public agency also should provide the parents with a copy of its draft proposals, if the agency has developed them, prior to the IEP Team meeting so as to give the parents an opportunity to review the recommendations of the public agency prior to the IEP Team meeting, and be better able to engage in a full discussion of the proposals for the IEP. It is not permissible for an agency to have the final IEP completed before an IEP Team meeting begins.


The bolding is mine. I didn't see anything on IDEA's web site about a new law about not providing a draft IEP. I was given a draft IEP in January of this year. Is there a website that discusses this change?



Teebst
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28 May 2011, 4:17 pm

Sorry, it took me so long to get back. This has been a trying week.

We had the IEP meeting yesterday and I think it went ok. I spoke to my case manager a lot on the phone before hand so she was aware of any concerns I had and was able to address them ahead of time. They seemed to be more for giving my daughter all the services they possibly could, as opposed to withholding services. My husband is happy with the meeting. They are going to mail me a copy of the full assessment. The stim redirection is something I believe I will see how it goes. If I notice my kid withdrawing or acting out I'll know something is wrong and can address it this fall. They at lease said they wouldn''t just hold her arms down or tell her to stop it, but they would try to get her either distracted or figure out if she's upset.

This all is a super hard process. I've been sick and am still not sure I've made the right decision, but they assured me I can call another meeting at any time. I hope I made the right decision....



azurecrayon
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29 May 2011, 12:07 pm

jat wrote:
never, ever sign off on an IEP at the meeting.

You canNOT sign off on a final copy of something you have not received. That makes no legal sense. If the final copy has not been drafted, it is like signing something blank and letting them fill it in. Never, ever do that.


i think whether you sign at the mtg depends on the process. some ieps are very straightforward and simple, some are more complex and need a lot more accommodations put in. some schools are cooperative, some you have to fight. if you are being presented with new reports or recommendations you havent seen before, you may want time to consider them, whereas if you requested a copy of everything before the meeting, you may be well prepared to sign off on things.

ive had 4 iep mtgs for 3 different kids in the past 5 weeks. two were signed at the mtg, one i refused to sign and was signed at the subsequent meeting. my 7 yo nt has an iep for ST to correct a lisp, his is just a continuation of the current therapy with adjusted goals and was signed at the mtg. for my 5 yo we put a transition iep into place for his entrance into a new school for kindergarten, they included everything off the list i brought with me plus some extra accommodations, signed that at the mtg too. my oldest is the one we have iep troubles with, and that one i didnt sign at the first mtg. they have been consistently refusing the accommodations we request, and arent following through on the ones we do get.

the draft iep process ive been trying to find more info on. it could be specific to state or district. only my youngest has had the draft version used, that was a week ago, the middle child who is in the same school district had the real iep delivered at the mtg a month earlier. everything was on forms with DRAFT printed diagonally across them, some was pre-printed (carry over from old iep) and new stuff was handwritten in. i received the final iep copy, fully typed, on friday, and everything appears to be on it.

in the future, if a draft iep is used i plan to ask for a copy to take home with me to be sure nothing agreed upon is forgotten, or request a copy to be included with the final iep i receive. if they are unwilling to do that, then perhaps they would be willing to set up an additional time to meet for signing of the final iep copy. i dont mind the draft version really for my two youngest, but i certainly wouldnt sign a draft for my oldest as his school has been very uncooperative and unaccommodating.


_________________
Neurotypically confused.
partner to: D - 40 yrs med dx classic autism
mother to 3 sons:
K - 6 yrs med/school dx classic autism
C - 8 yrs NT
N - 15 yrs school dx AS