Different types of IEP meetings / the process for updating IEPs
When/how often does the IEP team meet? What is discussed/decided at IEP meetings?
You should always receive a written invitation to an IEP meeting. When you arrive to an IEP meeting, there should be an IEP cover sheet indicating the purpose of the meeting. This is Form I-3 . If this form is not available when you arrive, you can request one be completed to ensure that everyone present is on the same page about what will be discussed and decided at the meeting.
Annual IEP meeting
The IEP team must meet at least once per year to conduct the Annual IEP meeting. At this meeting, the full IEP document should be reviewed and goals should be set for the next calendar year. If the Annual IEP takes place in March, then the goals developed will be the goals until the following March.
The meeting at which the initial IEP was developed is the first Annual IEP meeting. The school is required to hold an annual IEP meeting before the end date of the current IEP is reached (which happens one year from the date of the last Annual IEP meeting). They are also required to work with you on scheduling this meeting, so the scheduling process should begin far enough in advance that you and the school can come to an agreement on a date before the IEP goes beyond its annual review date.
If the team does not meet before the annual review date, the school is out of compliance with the law, but they are required to continue providing services as indicated in the current IEP.
Most meetings held between annual IEPs are “Review/Revise” meetings. These are meetings in which the team is coming together to discuss a specific part of the IEP that doesn’t appear to be properly serving the needs of the student.
This is the initial evaluation meeting, discussed previously.
Every three years, the district must conduct a reevaluation to determine the child’s ongoing need for special education services. Forms RE-1 through RE-5 pertain to this process.
Form RE-1 is what you should receive to inform you that the school intends to initiate your child’s reevaluation. As indicated on the form, you should also receive a notice of your rights in regard to the IEP and evaluation with the form. As a team, the decision can be made that a reevaluation is not needed to determine that the child remains eligible for special education.
For the most part, it is useful to engage in the re-evaluation process, even if the child is sure to continue qualifying. The reevaluation will also explore changes in the child’s abilities and strengths. For additional information, see the DPI guidance regarding this process.
In order for the district to waive the three-year reevaluation, you (as the parent/caregiver) must sign Form RE-3. The team can also decide that no additional assessments are needed in order to determine continuing eligibility (Form RE-4). Finally, if the school intends to conduct additional assessments in order to determine continuing eligibility, they will provide you with form RE-5 in order to give your consent for these assessments.
How will I know when the IEP team is going to meet?
You should receive a formal invitation, in writing, to all IEP meetings. This is an important piece of documentation, even if you discuss the scheduling and agree on a date more informally. This is good proof that the meeting held was an IEP meeting, in case the school later tries to say that it was just an informal team meeting or some other type of meeting.
The invitation is a prescribed form created by DPI. This invitation will also list what type of IEP meeting is being held and what will be discussed during the meeting (see here for more information on types of meetings). The invitation is Form I-1.
You, as a parent/caregiver, can call an IEP meeting if you feel that something about the current IEP is not meeting the needs of your child. In order to do this, request an IEP meeting in writing (email is a good way to do this). The school district should comply with your request to schedule a meeting within a reasonable amount of time, although there is not a specific timeline in which they have to schedule it.
If, for some reason, they are refusing to schedule a meeting, ask an administrator (the principal or special education director/student services director) to provide you with written documentation of why they are not scheduling a meeting (Form M-1).
What else should I know about IEP meetings/teams?
As stated previously, if everything is functioning as intended, you and the rest of the team should be collaborating to meet the needs of your child. There are times, however, when it can feel intimidating for a parent or caregiver to be at an IEP meeting. Sometimes there are a lot of people present at IEP meetings, and many of them are representing the school district. There may also be times when team members use vocabulary that you may not know if you do not work in education.
It is important to remember that the school is required to consider your concerns, questions, and suggestions in relation to your child. Additionally, the school should not be using cost to justify not implementing ideas or suggestions you put on the table.
The school may not make changes to the IEP outside of a meeting unless you (parent/caregiver) agree to that change in writing using form I-10. If you are feeling intimidated or not heard at an IEP meeting, it is a great idea to bring someone with you. This can be a friend or family member (even if they do not have expertise in special education, just having another set of ears present can be helpful), or an informal or formal advocate.