A Brief Description of the IEP Meeting Process
December 19, 2018
Step One: You tell your kid's school that Hey, Something Ain't Right.
Step Two: 30 days later, you attend an initial meeting to officially voice your concerns that Hey, Something Ain't Right.* A variety of tests and assessments by a variety of people are planned to confirm that Something Ain't Right.
*Bonus points if you come prepared to this meeting with a pricey independent assessment that already confirms the Something, and by "bonus points" I mean hahahahahaha absolutely nothing you just played yourself, son.
Step Three: 90 days after that, you attend ANOTHER meeting to go over the results of the tests and assessments, and SURPRISE:
Something Ain't Right.
Step Four: You wait ANOTHER 30 days for ANOTHER meeting, at which point a plan actually gets put in place to address the Something, and services and accommodations can officially begin for the Something.
Step Five: Drink!
So we had an IEP meeting yesterday for Ike, a meeting of the Step Three variety. The earliest he'll get help from the school is now mid-to-late January.
I'm more frustrated than usual with this particular rodeo round because I've been sounding the Step One alarm since PRESCHOOL. Then all through Kindergarten. By first grade we had some speech therapy in place to address his lisp and articulation issues, and I guess I naively thought that because he already had an IEP in place, we might be able to skip some of the bureaucratic bullshit and just add supports for dyslexia.
(Oh my sweet, summer child. Have you been here long?)
The CODES, you see. It's the CODES and the CHANGING of them. Changing Ike's primary need from speech to a learning disability requires a coding change, a new case manager, and a whole new level of service hours and Least Restrictive Environment discussions.
(Also, here is your 100th copy of the 100-page Parental Rights & Safeguards booklet that we must offer you at every single meeting; trees be damned, damned, DAMNED!)
I was not at all surprised by any of the assessment results yesterday, nor was I surprised by all the informal observations by the team: Ike is a super-smart, hard-working and utterly delightful little person. He wants to please, he wants to do well, he wants to make you laugh and give you hugs.
But above all, the kid just really wants to read.
(He will also accept chocolate cake, because obviously.)
HUGS for all of you, but especially Ike.
Posted by: Liz Miller | December 19, 2018 at 12:11 PM
I just completed Step 4 for my 6 year old changing his major disability from speech to autism this morning. I could go on and on about the whole process as well!
I just wanted to say thank you for sharing all of this starting back with Noah. You are the reason I’ve known what to do for my son, and you’ve helped me so much!
Thank you for that!!
Posted by: Kimberly | December 19, 2018 at 12:20 PM
You continue to help so many others in the same situation. Thanks as always for writing about these issues.
Posted by: Flybigd | December 19, 2018 at 12:23 PM
The year my son's IEP was expanded from just speech interventions to a whole list of other services, I had a total of 13 IEP meetings. Fortunately, CA's parental rights document is only one page... Unfortunately, the rod blocks the school put up to him obtaining services means he essentially lost a year...
Posted by: Kara | December 19, 2018 at 12:44 PM
I think I would have started drinking BEFORE Step The 5th.
Poor Not A Baby, Just Wants To Read, Ike. Maybe with Christmas break looming, it will make mid January come sooner. Or not.
Keep fighting for your cub, Momma Bear.
Posted by: Sue W. | December 19, 2018 at 12:55 PM
As a Speech/Language Pathologist who is just now taking a lunch break from my 7(?!) "Intensive Support Team"/"Child Study Team"/"Something's WRONG Team" meetings this morning, I FEEL YOU! Our team tries to move things along quicker than the 30/60/90 day "timelines", but sometimes it's all that other paperwork crap that holds us up.
I am curious why they didn't do an eligibility/IEP at your results meeting. That is generally when we get all of our stuff wrapped up down here in Florida.
Either way, I am so happy that you are on road to all the HELPS! So excited to see the progress Ike has already made and I can't wait to see where he goes from here.
Posted by: Denise | December 19, 2018 at 01:30 PM
Ug. Late January....by the time they get on their merry way and Ike gets used to the new normal school is out in 4 months and then it just starts all over again in the Fall. I will never understand why it takes this person and that person 30 + days to say in 90 + days that we are getting to it. Best wishes for Ike! He can and will do anything he sets his little heart and mind too...and those people who are + 30 days of crap....well there is a special place for those people.
Posted by: Ellie | December 19, 2018 at 01:45 PM
He is precious! No worries lady! Ike has got this. You got this!!!
Posted by: Nicole | December 19, 2018 at 01:55 PM
The feels! So glad he has you guys as an advocate. You are the fiercest.
Posted by: Joanna | December 19, 2018 at 03:29 PM
Speaking as a sped teacher, I find it crazy that you didn't get to just change his IEP and add the new services at the assessment review meeting. That's what we would have done at any school I have worked at (I'm in New England).
But speaking from the other side of the table, unfortunately, sped teachers and specialists are so overextended that it really can take that long to get the assessments done internally. And the reason we don't usually like to take outside evals on faith is that there are many outside evaluators who will make ridiculous recommendations based on pretty much nothing, or who will recommend basically whatever the parent wants them to. (Obviously this is not true in your case! But I've seen a lot of really bad outside evals.) There's certainly a lot of squirrelly stuff that goes on in special ed as well (and education in general), but I can definitely say that 9 times out of 10 I really, really hate outside evals.
I'm sorry you're having such a hard time getting Ike the services he so clearly needs, and he's so lucky to have you advocating for him.
Posted by: tadpoledrain | December 19, 2018 at 04:13 PM
I'm a teacher, and it is just as frustrating on this end. When parents bring up their concerns, admin usually hears them. But when *I* bring up concerns about a student for the FOURTH YEAR IN A ROW (after his previous teacher doing the same), I'm told "collect this data" and "collect that data" and "report back in 6 weeks with more data" and I dutifully jump through hoops and wait for admin to do ANYTHING that will help this kid. I'm still waiting. He's in 7th grade. His mom's lovely, but she's in denial that her kid is significantly, measurably different from her other kids. So I'll keep unofficially providing the supports I know the kid needs, but I worry about sending him off to high school with no documentation that he needs support and then he gets there and they assume he's choosing to function the way he does.
Posted by: Amy | December 19, 2018 at 11:36 PM
I'm not experienced in finding supports for my child in public education, and it's a fight - but I am familiar with public education. It's a hassle, and there is bureaucracy, and it often feels like we've forgotten who we're serving; children. But because it's public, schools must embrace ALL who come through the doors. You can't (although it likely feels like) move a child out, or not accept a child in the first place, because they could bring precious test scores down, or are different, or whatever is identified about them that is considered out of the norm. Public education is important, special education is even more so. All children deserve an education, to made to feel special and met where they are, to challenge them, and teach them no matter what.
Posted by: Kymmi | December 20, 2018 at 12:03 AM
I'm a school psych and also a parent so I get it, I soooo get it. Hang in there and keep up the good fight!
Posted by: Nicole Oser | December 20, 2018 at 07:27 AM
I have our transition to K IEP meeting coming up in January. I hate that I always cry at these things. I wish we could afford the fancy ADHD/ASD private school and skip the whole crazy making IEP process. But $32K a year...
In our district (wealthiest county in the nation!), they got rid of all the reading specialists the same year they installed $$ AstroTurf on all the sports fields. Because teaching kids to read is somehow less of a priority than soggy football fields?
Posted by: Joanna | December 20, 2018 at 08:39 AM
I'm relatively new to the IEP process, but I definitely feel your pain. We've been trying for months to get support for our daughter related to anxiety and school refusal. Rather than just communicate with us about the documentation needed to get our daughter's absences excused, the school sent us to truancy court. $180 and a misdemeanor crime on my record later, they finally explained their requirements in our third ARD meeting yesterday. I'm livid with them and so worried about my kid. I hope Ike can get the help he needs in January and get off to the races with reading.
Posted by: Jenny | December 20, 2018 at 11:35 AM
Maybe bring the wine TO the meeting. Maybe bringing wine to the first meeting would mean fewer meetings like because its a bribe I mean...
Posted by: Holly W | December 20, 2018 at 02:45 PM
Yep. We have a son with extremely high anxiety. He is a kindergartner who has been suspended multiple times and receives sped services under the emotional disturbance qualification. He's likely autistic, but we've been waiting MONTHS to get into a psychiatrist, so time will tell. After months of meetings and tears we hired an advocate to help us through the ARD process. It has been so great to have a person who knows the ins and outs to the process and can help keep the district in line. Everyone at the school has been supportive, but the whole process is just overwhelming and emotional. I truly feel for all parents who have to go through any of this. I'm glad people like you talk about the process, Amy, because there are so many of us fighting these battles while feeling alone.
Posted by: Natalie | December 20, 2018 at 03:04 PM
@Joanna Are you in the district to the west of Fairfax in the state to the south of Amalah? Because I am, too. And boy howdy have I ever heard horror stories about the IEP process here.
Posted by: Elizabeth Miller | December 21, 2018 at 12:57 PM
Welcome to the world of learning disabilities. At least ISDs no longer say that you can't tell (they won't do anything) until third grade. I have spent enough money on private tutors for all three of mine to fund a small country. And we live in a very progressive state for Dyslexia, Texas. We have our very own Texas dyslexia law, which actually does help. My granddaughter is in first grade and will begin services in January.
Posted by: Sue Cantrell | December 21, 2018 at 05:24 PM
@Elizabeth Miller - why yes I am! I have heard many bad stories, too. I am not at all looking forward to leaving preschool for K next year.
Posted by: Joanna | December 21, 2018 at 11:06 PM
Elizabeth and Joanna,
I am here too. My daughter is going through the process now and it is not very helpful. I'm paying for private OG tutoring for what I suspect is dyslexia until she gets old enough to test for it. So frustrating!
Posted by: Sara | December 23, 2018 at 10:52 PM