IEP Meeting: The Cast of Characters

If you’ve been attending IEP meetings without clear knowledge of who exactly should be at your child’s IEP meeting, this post is for you. Knowing the cast of characters and their respective roles will help you direct your concerns to the appropriate IEP team member.

The school is responsible for ensuring that the IEP team includes the following members:

1) The student’s parents or guardian;

2) When appropriate, the student;

3) At least one regular education teacher, when the student is participating in regular education;

Any regular education teacher implementing the IEP in the classroom can participate in the IEP meeting. If the student is struggling in a particular course, you can request the presence of that regular education teacher at the meeting.

4) At least one special education teacher of the student or not less than one special education provider;

A special education teacher that is working with the student in the classroom, this teacher will typically be the case manager. There are some exceptions, for instance, if the student only receives speech therapy, the speech pathologist would be the case manager for that particular student.

5) A school district administrator or representative;

‘The gatekeeper.’ This person is easy to spot, he or she will be busy taking meeting notes on the computer and will be the ONLY person who will respond to a parent’s request for additional services or programs. This person is the eyes and ears of the top brass in the special education department. Their sole purpose is to see that the meeting goes according to the previously approved script. Which by the way, was discussed behind the scenes, before the start of the meeting.

6) An individual who can interpret the instructional implications of evaluation results;

This role can be fulfilled by one of the following IEP team members: the regular education teacher, the special education teacher, the district representative, or related services personnel.

7) At the discretion of the parent or the school district, other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the student, including related services personnel when appropriate;

This is an extremely important parent right that unfortunately, is seldom exercised. The right to invite a person with experience and knowledge to the meeting. Having someone in your corner with the know-how introduces a highly different dynamic to the IEP meeting.

The determination of the knowledge or special expertise is made solely at the discretion of the parent who invited the individual to the IEP meeting. No one else can make the determination on behalf of the parent. In other words, school staff cannot in any way question the individual’s knowledge or expertise.

Examples of other individuals parents may invite to the IEP meeting:

  • Spouse or partner
  • Family member
  • Family friend
  • Other professionals, such as, independent evaluators, third-party counselors or tutors
  • Special education advocate
  • Attorney

Examples of other individuals the school district may invite to the IEP meeting:

  • Audiologist
  • Guidance counselor
  • Interpreter
  • Occupational therapist
  • Orientation and mobility specialist
  • Physical therapist
  • School psychologist
  • Speech and language pathologist
  • School nurse
  • District programs specialist
  • Attorney

There it is, a brief outline of the cast of characters and their roles during the development, implementation, and review of an IEP. Don’t be a spectator in your child’s education, take action, be assertive, and exercise your rights to a free and appropriate public education.


The IEP Guy