A Guide to Having A Successful Initial IEP Meeting


Well yesterday I went to the initial Individual Education Plan (IEP) meeting. Different schools can call this meeting different things.  Our school calls it a “Red Meeting”.  It is a meeting to see the next steps that should be taken.  Either move forward with IEP testing or try various interventions, before getting started.  As a parent, this process can be very frustrating. It can feel like the school or district might do everything to avoid actually starting the IEP process. Preparation is key to success in attending this initial meeting.

Before I attended the meeting, I did minimal research as to various reasons how a child might qualify for an IEP or a 504 plan. The results of the research contributed to my post Requesting an IEP.  Through my research I saw how my child might fit under the umbrella of qualifying and this was key in having success in the meeting. Let me tell you how that initial meeting went.

The room was filled with educational professionals, which can be intimidating. The meeting began and right away they began dismissing the need for IEP testing. As mentioned in a previous post, last year I had started the process but my child was never tested. The reason was they said he did not need to be tested. He was not intellectually impaired.  Again I was being told the same thing.  This is where knowing how your child could qualify is imperative and do not be afraid to stand your ground.

I am not going to sugar coat how this meeting went. I had to be firm to plead for my child, which was scary.   Having data and stating facts made my case valid. Data can include emails to and from teacher about how your child is doing in class, assessments sent home from school, previous diagnosis, notes from doctor, and observations made. Use all and whatever you have to support your child’s need for testing.  Much of the data I brought to the table was data they already had. It did not make any sense to me why they were dismissing it. I guess I had to bring it back to the table and shed a new light.  Data and facts made all the difference.

Bring support to your meeting. I asked my child’s case manager to attend.  She provided validation to my claims. She made sure everyone in the room understood my child’s diagnosis.  Her presence, also made me feel like I had one person in my corner.

Being prepared, sharing data, and bringing support made for a successful initial IEP meeting.  I was pleased that in the end my child was not dismissed again. They agreed to move forward with testing.  A school or district has up to 60 days to complete testing. Luckily my school told me they will complete testing and we will meet to review results before the winter break.

Many who know me personally, know that I have a background in education.  I have been involved in these meetings before, but as the role as a teacher. As the teacher, I always supported the parents. It was so odd that I felt like I was alone and I really had to advocate for my child.

I was also surprised by how this room of professionals did not know a lot about how trauma can impact a child’s success in school. It is no secret that foster children have endured trauma and may have Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As an adoptive mom, I had to educate this room in how these children need support. Honestly I am shocked that more is not in place to accommodate these needs.

If you have gone through this process as a parent, what did you do to get your child the support they need? Any tips you would share? I would love your opinion.

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  1. Judy says:

    Leavitt told me all about your incredible family!! What a gift you are to your children! I stand in amazement for all that did, are doing and will do!! Call me if you’d like and I can provide you with many options and ways of working with the schools to get yours children’s needs and accommodations met! My hat is off to you and I salute you for all that you did!!

    1. Melina says:

      Thank you so much for your support! I will have to call you for sure and get ideas of what to expect in my next meeting!

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