Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Get Organized!

The amount of paper that follows our children can be overwhelming, but an IEP binder can help you manage the flow and present a more effective case at your child's next IEP.

First, invest in a strong, medium-sized binder. The binder should be a manageable size -- it's just to help you at your next IEP meeting, not to store everything that's ever been said about your child.

Next, gather all documents -- school records, IEPs, assessments, medical records, etc.-- in one place. If you think you're missing something (old IEPs, evaluations, etc.),
you can order it from the school district: California law gives you the right to review and copy all of your child's school records within 5 days of written or oral request. [1]

Pull out the most recent two years of IEPs, assessments and mediation or hearing results and insert them in your binder in chronological order, with the latest (most recent) IEP and assessments in front. (Put all other, older documents aside for a more comprehensive, medical history binder.)

Behind the IEPs and assessments, and separated by a tab, insert a copy of Special Education Rights and Responsibilities. Include as many chapters as you can, leaving out only the ones that will not apply to your child for many years, or ever, or ever again. It is a must-have resource for IEPs.

At the front of the binder, you may also want to include a contact list and some blank paper, where you can add notes and ideas during the year.

Do you have any additional suggestions to include in the binder, or to help get ready for an IEP?
[1] The school district cannot charge more than the actual cost of copying the records, and, depending on the circumstances, it may have to provide them at no cost. Cal. Ed. Code, sec. 56504. (Federal law gives schools up to 45 days to provide the documents, but a more generous state law, such as California's, will govern.)

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