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IEP Meeting Notes. Margaret A. Saleh , J.D. Director, Special Education Conejo Valley Unified School District. They document important aspects of the IEP such as: Parent participation. Parent requests. District response to parent requests. Areas of agreement/disagreement.

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iep meeting notes

IEP Meeting Notes

Margaret A. Saleh, J.D.

Director, Special Education

Conejo Valley Unified School District

why are meeting notes important

They document important aspects of the IEP such as:

      • Parent participation.
      • Parent requests.
      • District response to parent requests.
      • Areas of agreement/disagreement.
      • Clarification of items.
      • Elaboration/explanation.
Why Are Meeting Notes Important?
should we only take notes for high profile cases

You never know when a case is going to become high profile.

      • Just because a parent doesn’t have a problem today doesn’t mean that they won’t tomorrow.
      • The statute of limitations is 2 years – maintain a clean record!
      • Just because you don’t start the meeting with notes doesn’t mean that you can’t begin taking them when a disagreement occurs.
Should we only take notes for “high profile” cases?
general guidelines

Write in a professional manner.

      • NO SLANG!
      • Use the third person point of view.
      • Stick to the facts.
      • Be clear!
      • Do not use contractions.
      • Break up your writing into paragraphs.
      • Non-professional writing reduces credibility.
General Guidelines
examples

“Bobby gets hung up on reading, math, everything.” - Slang/non-specific

vs.

“The general education teacher reports that Bobby struggles in reading, math, and writing.” - Professional/specific

Examples
more examples

“Parents want Johnny to have tests read to him. Mr. Smith is not altogether comfortable with this.” – Unclear outcome

vs.

“Parents request that Johnny have tests read to him. However, the principal does not believe this accommodation is necessary, as Bobby’s visual processing skills are within the average range. Parents agree to having Bobby take tests without accommodations.” – Clear explanation and outcome

More Examples
general guidelines1

Use titles, not names.

    • The IEP follows students to other districts, counties, and states. They don’t know who Mrs. Smith is.

Example

“Johnny goes to Mrs. Smith for reading.”

vs.

“Johnny sees the reading specialist daily for assistance with decoding.”

General Guidelines
general guidelines2

More on Names:

      • Do not name a specific person to do a job (i.e. “Mrs. Smith will work with Bobby daily.”).
        • Mrs. Smith may decide to quit her job next week…but the IEP specifically says that Mrs. Smith – and only Mrs. Smith - will be working with Bobby! What now?
      • Instead, state the person’s position (i.e., “The reading specialist will work with Bobby on decoding for 30 minutes daily.”).
General Guidelines
general guidelines3

Be Objective

    • Be aware of the “voice” in your writing.

Example:

“The parent demanded a speech assessment.”

vs.

“The parent requested a speech assessment.”

General Guidelines
general guidelines4

Clarity/Accuracy

      • Make sure your notes make sense.
      • Whenever possible: Notes should either be read aloud or shared with the parent at the conclusion of the meeting in order to ensure that everyone agrees to their accuracy.
      • Document in the notes that the notes were reviewed prior to adjourning.
        • Remember: The notes are a part of the IEP and therefore the parents are signing agreement with their accuracy in addition to the offer of FAPE.
General Guidelines
slide13

What are some things that I need to make sure to document?

Parent Participation

Parent Requests

Areas of Disagreement

Least Restrictive Environment

FAPE

Additional Items

meaningful parent participation

The district must come to an IEP meeting with an open mind and several options, discuss and consider the parents’ placement recommendations and concerns, and then the District members of the IEP team must make a final recommendation.

  • When consensus can’t be reached, the LEA Representative must make the offer of FAPE.
Meaningful Parent Participation
avoid the appearance of predetermination

The district may not independently develop an IEP without meaningful parental participation, and then simply present the IEP to the parent for ratification.

Recently Cited: OAH CASE NO. 2009080713, OAH CASE NO. 2009040479, OAH CASE NO. 2008100752, OAH CASE NO. 2009010187, OAH CASE NO. 2007120415.

Avoid the Appearance of Predetermination
when have parents meaningfully participated

Parents have meaningfully

participated when they:

      • Are informed of the child's problems.
      • Attend the IEP meeting.
      • Had the opportunity to disagree regarding the IEP team's conclusions.
      • Had the opportunity to request revisions in the IEP.
  • Failure to include parental participation is a significant denial of FAPE.

Ms. S. ex rel G. v. Vashon Island School District

When have parents meaningfully participated?
how do i document parent participation

Make sure to include the purpose of the

meeting on the invitation.

  • Note any questions that the parents asked or comments that the parents made.
      • “Mother inquired about Johnny’s social skills on the playground.”
      • “Parents report that they have been very impressed with Bobby’s progress.”
      • “Mother reports that she spends 3 hours per night doing homework with Billy.”
      • “While teacher reports that Billy behaves appropriately at school, his mother states that he fights with her frequently.”
How do I document parentparticipation?
response to parent requests

The District is required to consider (but not necessarily agree with) parent concerns and requests.

  • Make sure to document:
    • That the team discussed and considered the request.
    • The reason the parent feels it is necessary.
    • The District’s response and reason for the response.
Response to Parent Requests
examples of responses to parent requests

“Parents request an additional speech/language assessment due to concerns in the area of pragmatics. The District will consider this request and will respond within 15 days.”

  • “Parents request that RSP services be provided after school, as they do not want Bobby to miss music. The RSP and the general education teacher discussed and agreed upon a time during which Bobby can receive services without missing music.”
  • “Parents request an additional goal in the area of decoding. The RSP will collect baseline data for a period not to exceed 30 days and the team will reconvene to review the data and determine whether a goal is needed.”
Examples of Responses to Parent Requests
documenting disagreement

Always document the reasons why the school team disagrees.

  • Document facts, not opinions.
  • The offer of FAPE must be definitive.
  • Don’t use an adversarial tone.
  • Document what the outcome of the discussion was.
Documenting Disagreement
always include the reason

“Parents request ___________ due to concerns in the area of _________.”

  • “Based on _____________________, the District

(Describe the data, teacher reports, progress, etc.)

believes ______________ is/is not

(the parent request)

appropriate at this time. However, the District

proposes _____________ to address the areas

(proactive intervention, collecting additional data, etc.)

of parent concern.”

ALWAYS INCLUDE THE REASON
areas of disagreement

“The district will not do the assessment that the parents want.”

vs.

“Parents are requesting an additional psycho-educational assessment due to concerns in the area of reading. In considering this request, the team reviewed current data, which indicate that Johnny is making progress toward his annual reading goal. Furthermore, Johnny’s teacher reports that he reading within grade level standards based on district assessments. Therefore, the District does not feel that an assessment is warranted at this timeand thus the District denies parents request for additional assessment.

Areas of Disagreement
post iep

The District is required to respond to parent requests in writing within 15 days if the District is in disagreement.

      • Notify the Coordinator of the disagreement and the request immediately after the meeting.
      • The Coordinator or the Director of Special Education will respond to the parents with a 300.503 letter (also known as Prior Written Notice).
Post-IEP
least restrictive environment

Students may be removed from the regular education environment only when the nature or severity of the student’s disabilities are such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aides and services can not be achieved satisfactorily.

Ed. Code Section 56040.1

Least Restrictive Environment
yes these are significant environment service changes

Individual Aide Support

  • Continuation School
  • Independent School
  • Special Day Classes
  • Home Hospital

All of these require an IEP meeting!

Notify your Coordinator when considering any of these!

Yes, These Are Significant Environment/Service Changes!
offer of a free and appropriate public education fape

The District is required to provide a clear written offer of FAPE at the conclusion of the meeting.

    • The offer must be solid…it does not offer choices.
      • NOT: “The District offers _____ or _____.”
      • YES: The District offers the following as the most appropriate and least restrictive environment in which to meet Bobby’s needs:
        • Specialized Academic Instruction in a separate classroom: 30 minutes daily.
Offer of a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)
elements of fape

There is a two-prong test to determine whether a district has provided FAPE:

      • Has the school system complied with the procedures set forth in the IDEA?
      • Was the IEP reasonably calculated to enable the child to receive meaningful educational benefit?
Elements of FAPE

Board of Education of the Hendrick Hudson School District v. Rowley

was the iep designed to meet the child s unique needs

The IEP must:

    • Be based on an assessment that addressed all areas of suspected disability.
    • The areas of unique need were identified based on the assessment/present levels of performance.
    • Goals or accommodations were developed to address the areas of unique need.
    • Services were offered to address the goals.
Was the IEP Designed to Meet the Child’s Unique Needs?
key phrases to use when discussing fape

“Designed to meet the child’s unique needs.”

      • Ex/ “Parents believe that additional RSP time is needed. However, the school-based team reports that the data collected indicates that the current offer of FAPE is appropriately designed to meet Billy’s unique needs in the area of reading.”
  • “Reasonably calculated to enable the child to receive educational benefit.”
      • Ex/ “Parents feel that the reading goal is not high enough. However, the school-based team reports that the goal is based on baseline data and is reasonably calculated to produce educational benefit for Johnny.”
Key Phrases to Use When Discussing FAPE
additional items to document

Was the meeting recorded?

  • Excusal of IEP Team Member forms.
      • Document in the notes when an excusal is signed. The form should be signed prior to the meeting beginning (preferably sent home) and attached to the IEP.
  • Time when parents excuse team members to leave early.
  • Consideration of outside assessments.
      • The IEP team is required to consider (but not necessarily agree with) outside assessments obtained by the parents.
  • Timeline extensions.
Additional Items to Document
signatures

Did the parents sign the IEP before leaving? If not, document why.

      • Did they disagree with something or did they just want to take it home for review?
        • If they disagreed, contact the Coordinator immediately after the meeting.
        • If they took it home for review, ask them for a date upon which they expect to have a decision and document that date in the notes.
Signatures
helpful facts

Methodology:

      • The District has the right to choose the methodology it uses as long as the methodology is reasonably calculated to provide educational benefit.
  • Extended School Year (ESY):
      • Only required if the student is likely to exhibit significant regression with limited recoupment.
      • “Based on Billy’s present levels of performance, the District does not believe that ESY is required in order to prevent regression with limited recoupment.”
Helpful Facts
if you re in a bind

Don’t panic. You have some options:

        • Let the data guide your decision-making.
          • Do you have enough data? If not, propose 30 days to collect it.
        • If unsure, tell the parents that the District will consider their request and respond within 15 days.
        • Complete as much of the IEP as possible. Consider stopping and reconvening with a District administrator present.
If you’re in a bind…
guidelines for time

30 days (Guidelines – this is notlaw).

      • Generally, this is an acceptable amount of time to collect additional data if needed.
      • Generally, this is an acceptable amount of time for a diagnostic placement…but specify in the notes that it is a diagnostic placement and what that placement is.
        • The team must reconvene at the conclusion of the placement.
  • 15 days – This is law.
      • The District must respond to disagreements in writing within 15 days.
Guidelines for Time
so who should take the notes

At first, it may be best to rotate so that

everyone gets the experience of taking notes.

  • For contentious cases, the person who feels the most comfortable/competent should take the notes.
  • Keep in mind that it can be difficult to facilitate/present at a meeting and take notes at the same time. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t trade during the meeting.
So…who should take the notes?
the process of taking notes

Make the determination of who will be taking the notes before the meeting begins.

  • If you are uncomfortable with your notes, have a team member proofread them before you read them aloud or present them to the parents.
  • You can rotate who is taking the notes depending on who is presenting at the time.
    • Ex/ The psychologist can take the notes while the RSP presents and the RSP can take the notes while the psych presents.
The Process of Taking Notes
final thoughts

The IEP notes are part of a legal document. It is essential that they be professional, accurate, and representative of what occurred during the meeting.

  • Remember – if the case goes to due process, the ALJ will put great weight toward what is documented in the notes.
  • Without the notes, points of contention revert to “he said, she said.”
  • The notes assist Special Education administration when we respond to parent disagreements.
Final Thoughts