As a special education teacher, I have witnessed the overwhelming feeling that parents had when they were first told they needed to attend an IEP meeting.
They didn’t know what it meant or who would be there.
All they knew was that this meeting might determine their child’s future, making them very nervous.
I wanted them to be comforted by knowing that having an IEP team to support their child would make all the difference. And they would play a significant role on that team.
In this blog post, you will learn everything you need to know about an IEP Team as a parent of a special needs child.
What is an IEP Team?
Learning about your child’s Individual Education Plan and IEP team is vital. Over time, I learned who did and didn’t need to be at the IEP team meeting, depending on the topic of discussion.
When a child is found to have academic struggles and is eligible for an IEP, an IEP team is formed.
Each team member guides and protects a student’s rights and responsibilities following the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or IDEA.
So, sit back, and let’s dive into who you might not know is a part of your child’s IEP team.
Who is on my child’s IEP team?
It takes many members to provide the best support and service for a child’s academics who receive special education services.
IEP Team Members Include:
- Special education classroom teacher
- Case manager (someone who is the child’s direct contact with the families)
- An assistant principal (or designee)
- Social worker
- School psychologist
- Related services teachers such as
- Occupational therapy
- Speech therapy
- Adapted physical education (APE)
- The parents
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What are the Roles of Each Member of the IEP Team?
Each team member is there to help guide conversation to a place of success for the student’s academic and social-emotional well-being.
Let’s break down each IEP team member’s role.
Special Education Classroom Teacher
Special education teachers are often the classroom teachers the child regularly sees through their class schedule.
This teacher often collects data on IEP goals and provides feedback on a student’s performance within the classroom.
A case manager (sometimes known as the special educator) is designated to be the direct contact for the parents to reach out regarding questions or concerns with the school and their child.
The case manager then relays any information to the assistant principal and other team members to ensure the parents’ comments are answered promptly.
Assistant Principal or Designee
The role of the Assistant principal or designee, in my opinion, is the leader in the meeting.
This person provides the team members with guidance on the school district’s special education program’s rules, regulations, and policies.
They provide insight on how to apply this to a student’s growth and success toward independence.
A social worker is an individual from a public agency who is present to support the student’s emotional well-being and learn about the student’s family history.
Social workers help when there is a concern about a child or to learn more about how a family’s situation might be impacting a student’s performance in school.
This team member is important because he can ask the family questions. He does this to ensure the student and family are cared for if they have a financial or physical need that is not being met.
This social worker can also provide community connections to a family if needed to ensure a family’s needs are met appropriately.
The school psychologist is someone with special expertise who can help with a student’s social problems. She can provide counseling or guidance to the student.
She also provides information on academic testing to help determine if a student needs an IEP or other related services to be successful in school.
General Education Teacher
A general education teacher is part of the IEP team because she can provide information on how a student does in classes outside of special education.
This is important because it shows how the student interacts with others and how well they do in different types of classes.
This person’s perspective helps the team learn if a student behaves or does better or worse in different places at school than in the special education classroom.
Related Services Teachers
Related services teachers are the specialists who sometimes take your child out of the classroom for one on one teaching. This can be for things such as physical or speech therapy.
It is essential to see things from the related services teacher’s perspective.
This way, I can help the student successfully learn various skills. Not just in their 1-1 sessions but also in the classroom.
The parents are often forgotten as part of an IEP team. However, they are the ones who brought their child into this world. They are the ones who truly understand how their son or daughter functions best.
Parents are vital to helping the IEP team to learn more in-depth details such as:
- What happens at home
- Their child’s interests
- How has their child changed over time
They see their child when they wake up and go to sleep and know them the best. I have learned to appreciate the value of a parent’s perspective.
This is especially true when uncommon behaviors for the student start to show up in the classroom.
I don’t know all, but a parent is one individual who can help bring light into the unknown.
Here is a blog to learn more about Parental Rights In The IEP Process.
Finally, the most crucial individual on the IEP team is the student himself!
The student is where all the conversations, comments, concerns, praises, etc., are happening and why they are meeting in the first place.
Regardless of the student’s intellectual abilities, a student should be part of the team at each IEP meeting.
They can provide insight into how the school and interactions with other students in classrooms impact their perspective.
The student’s opinion is essential and needs to be shared with the team because they are the ones the whole IEP meeting is about, and they should be given the time and energy to share what’s important to them during these meetings.
When the student turns 14, by law, they should be attending their own IEP meetings.
Wrapping it Up
The IEP team is essential for a student’s success in school. Knowing the roles and responsibilities of each member will guide you to a better understanding of Special education.
It will also help you learn which team members are working with your child on which IEP goals and how you can best learn how to support your child at home and in school.
If you are reading this article and are unfamiliar with your student’s IEP team, reach out immediately.
The more you know, the better you will feel as a parent regarding your child’s success. It all starts with just asking.
Special Education Resource was explicitly created to help parents of children with special needs find the information and assistance necessary to help their child reach their excellence.
Through dozens of articles, quotes, videos, resources, and one-on-one special education tutoring, we are here to help you every step of the way.
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