IEP Participants: Who are you and why are you here?

IEP Meetings: Who are you and why are you here?

Who Attends an IEP Meeting?

IEP participants are going to vary based on a student’s needs.  Sometimes, there will be a small handful of participants, sometimes you’ll be fighting for elbow room at a conference table built for 12.

Here’s my advice: Don’t walk into the room blindly.  Know who will be attending before you show up, and find out why each person will be there (and it better not be to check emails).  If you know who will be there,  you will be more relaxed, focused on the present, and prepared with meaningful questions.

Here’s a quick list of who you can expect:

Required Participants

Special education law mandates certain participants attend IEP meetings unless parents provide written consent.  At times, one person may serve more than one role at the meeting.

Required participants include:

  1. The LEA, or representative from the “Local Education Agency” – This will likely be the principal, assistant principal, special ed director, or the school psychologist.  For speech-only IEPs, it might be the speech pathologist.  He or she is responsible for ensuring the school can provide the resources outlined in the IEP.  He or she will also be making sure all the paperwork is accurate.  If you have questions about your rights prior to the meeting, touch base with your LEA.
  2. General Education Teacher – likely your child’s classroom teacher.  He or she will be sharing information about how your child is doing in the classroom.  Expect to hear updates about academics, behavior, and social functioning.  She might bring in work samples or recent test scores.  Be sure to ask for copies of anything she brings; if it is important enough to share at a legal meeting, it’s probably worth bringing home so you can look at it more carefully.
  3. Special Education Teacher – a teacher with expertise in individualizing instruction to meet learners’ needs.  A special education teacher often stays with a student for more than one year, so he or she can provide great info about how your child has grown over the years.  Expect her to share information about how your child is doing at school, goals for the future (provide your own input, too!), and the plan to help your child meet those goals.
  4. PARENTS… and anyone you want to bring along.  I have found that it helps BIG time to have someone else with me.  My husband tends to jot key notes down while I talk, and he helps clarify my jumbled thoughts.  If you choose to bring an advocate or a lawyer, let the school know ahead of time.

Additional School Participants

Other common participants include the School Psychologist, School Counselor, School Social Worker, Occupational Therapist, Speech Pathologist, Physical Therapist, additional teachers or aids, practicum students, and even the student himself.  Combined, they have enough degrees to heat up a house.  But only you have the mama-knowledge.  Make sure to speak up.

For more information about these educators and why they might attend the meeting, check out my previous post WHO works with your child and WHY you need to know.

How to Find Out Who Will Attend

You should receive an invite in the mail that has a list of participants.  HOWEVER, these invites are often sent far in advance (possibly several months), and often are not accurate given the ever-changing schedules of specialists.  Therefore, I encourage you to email  your child’s special ed teacher and LEA (if you know who that is), and ask for the names and roles of those who will be in attendance.  Plus, when you get to the meeting, check to see that everyone is there who was supposed to come.  Required participants (listed above) must have written permission from you to be excused.


Have questions?  Feel free to shoot me an email.

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