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    Monday, August 08, 2022

    When Push Comes to Love: IEP meetings aren't just for educators

    It is hard to believe that the school year is winding down. It seems like we were just dealing with the after-effects of Hurricane Irene and the delay of the start of the school. But hence, spring is upon us and for schools that means a lot of things, including PPT season. Planning and Placement Team meetings occur near the end of the school year to review the child's progress and plan for the coming year. It is when parents get to hear about the growth their child made that year and what the school will plan to do next year to ensure growth continues.

    If your child has an IEP (Individualized Education Plan), you should plan to attend a PPT meeting near the end of the school year; typically called an Annual Review. All members of your child's team will likely be present. Even if all members of the team are unable to attend, all members should send a written report on the progress your child has made this year and the goals they plan to implement next year, if it is deemed that your child continues to require special education services. Believe it or not, many kids do move into a regular education program after having an IEP.

    I cannot stress the importance of your attendance at this meeting. If you cannot physically be there, you are allowed to participate through an alternate method, such as a conference call. And remember, if you do attend, you are allowed to bring anyone you would like, and I encourage that. A friend or advocate will often hear things parents do not and having their questions and comments is often very helpful.

    PPTs at the end of the school year are very important in the planning for your child's plan for the next year. Sometimes it is difficult to think about the next year in May, but the school has been preparing your child for the advancement since January. Any large transition, such as to a new school, makes these meetings even more important. As the parent, if there are things you feel your child needs to move forward next year, feel free to ask for them. The team is there to do the best for your child. If your child has a one-on-one aide and you would like that aide trained specifically on a topic that may help your child, ask for it. The worst they can say is "no." If you have had success with a particular approach or program at home and would like to see it implemented with your child in the coming year, talk about it.

    Some children will qualify for Summer School services through their IEP. If you are concerned about your child losing ground over the summer, it will be important to discuss the summer school options with the team. If your child qualifies, it will be an added boost for their confidence when they return to school in the fall.

    It is important to note that there is a difference between PPT meetings and 504 Plan meetings. Only students who have qualified for Special Education services receive an IEP and subsequent PPT meetings. A 504 plan is implemented under the regular education umbrella when a student has an emotional or physical issue that may interfere with their learning, like ADHD, diabetes, narcolepsy, etc. It does allow for accommodations for students, but is different than the IEP. There are also 504 annual meetings but they typically occur on the anniversary of the implementation date. IEPs have a scheduled program of reporting and measuring goals, while 504 Plans list the student's accommodations and which staff member is responsible for implementing them.

    Spring is exciting for students and teachers. Everyone can feel that summer vacation is just around the corner. It is important to end the year strong by attending any meetings for your child. If your child had their Annual Review earlier in the year and will be transitioning to another school, most districts will hold a "transition meeting" to help prepare all parties with the move. Know that, as a parent, you can request a 504 or PPT meeting at any time. It is your right. You are your child's biggest advocate. Get it there and join the team before your child moves on to another grade.

    Doesn't kindergarten feel like it was just yesterday? Sigh.

    Visit the Connecticut State Department of Education to find the newest terminology that can help you better understand the Special Education process. http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/site/default.asp.

    Beverly Carr is a licensed clinical social worker based in Norwich. Her column, "When Push Comes to Love," appears monthly on graceforwomen.com. She can be reached at http://beverlycarr.vpweb.com/

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