Guest Article

Winterize your IEP

by John R. Frye, Special Education Advocate, Brownley Law Group

(John worked with general and special education students in a local public school system for 30 years before joining The Brownley Law Group as an advocate.  He writes occasional pieces for our web site about families and public schools.)

January, February, and March is a good time to pull out the IEP document and review it.

The period between winter break and spring break is a very productive part of the school year.  Routines are well established.  The focus has not turned to next year.  January, February, and March is a time when a lot of learning can occur.

I was a public school, first and second grade general education teacher for thirty years before I joined The Brownley Law Group as an advocate.  January is a time when new children move into a school and those autumn referrals become IEP placements. From my days as a teacher I remember  the challenge of incorporating the needs of new children while continuing to meet the needs of all my children.  My responsibilities grew but my resources stayed the same.  This happens to special education teachers and those who administer IEPs.  They get new children with new needs.  They are required to and they want to meet their children's needs.  Even in good schools and good classrooms, personnel can be diverted and objectives and goals can go unmet.    

This is a good time to review your child's IEP.  Do you understand how objectives and goals are being met?  Are the resources agreed to in the document being provided?  Do you see things happening in your child's daily life at school?  It is good to recognize the progress that is being made and make sure your child's needs are being met.  You and the school have agreed to an IEP.  You do not want your child to get lost. 

If you have questions, ask them.  Be polite and non-confrontational.  If good things are going on, let the school know that as well.  A congenial note is always a pick-me-up.  Everyone benefits when everyone understands what is going on.  If you are concerned that the IEP is not being implemented, offer to be part of the solution, to go to bat for the personnel who work with  your child, and to get them the resources they need.  You do not want to wait until after spring break to suddenly realize that the year is almost over. 

A winterized IEP will keep everyone warm and learning until spring comes!