As we begin a new school year, it’s helpful to remember who is on your child’s team at school. By definition, a team is “a number of persons associated in some joint action.” Special education meetings are made up of a team that meets to discuss and make decisions about your child’s specialized needs. Ideally, just like a team, all members are participating for one common goal…to help your child succeed. There are certain members that are required to attend each meeting and it is okay to put a meeting on hold until all members are there.
So who is on your child’s team? Who should be at a meeting to discuss your child’s specific needs in special education? Teachers are stretched for time these days with the requirements that are put on them by the state. However, legally, you should not have a meeting when one of these members is absent. These members must be present even if your child is in a separate setting and even if your child is a “speech only” student. They are the following:
LEA Representative: This will typically be your school’s principal or assistant principal. This person is responsible for making any final decisions and is the person who has all knowledge regarding budget and how your district meets state and federal requirements.
Regular Education Teacher: Typically, your child’s general education teacher will be at your meeting. There are times, however, where another teacher that works with your child may be in attendance. Sometimes, there may be more than one general education teacher that attends. This is more frequent in middle and high school where your child has several general education teachers. Even if your child is in a separate setting, there should still be a regular education teacher present from your child’s grade.
Special Education Teacher: The exceptional education teacher will most likely be running most of your meetings and answering specific questions regarding the process. This EC teacher will typically also be your child’s case manager and the contact person for specific questions.
Parent or Guardian: This will be yourself.
If the meeting is to discuss special education services from a school evaluation, than someone who is qualified to interpret the results needs to be present (for example, a school psychologist or a speech language therapist).
As a parent, you also have the right to bring people who can speak on behalf of your child such as: advocates, your child’s tutor, therapist, or person that privately evaluated your child to the meeting. When you receive your invitation to your child’s meeting, you can write in who you are bringing to the meeting as part of your child’s team. Once your child turns 14, he/she is legally invited to attend the meetings as well.
Christina and Wendy