The Team Roster
“We’ve found your child eligible for special education services.” Maybe these are the words you’ve hoped to hear, and maybe they are the ones you’ve feared. Maybe it’s a little bit of both. Whatever your reaction, there are a number of important decisions need to make right after hearing those words at the IEP meeting. This may be difficult, as so many thoughts pass through your mind. “Who are these people sitting at this table with me as we decide my child’s future?” That is a very important question, and one we will discuss here so that you will have a leg up when you go for your eligibility meeting.
According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (revised in 2004), there are several people necessary to an IEP Team. These are the people who would need to be at your IEP meeting:
- Parents of the child
- Not less than one regular education teacher, if the child is or may be participating in the regular education program at all
- Not less than one special education teacher/provider
- A representative of the school who can interpret evaluations if necessary
- A person brought in by you, the parent, as someone who can contribute to the meeting
- The child with the disability, if appropriate. The child must be invited if the purpose of the meeting is to discuss post-secondary goals and transition services are needed.
Child Study Team Roles
The Child Study Team is a portion of the IEP Team. They are a multi-disciplinary team who may or may not be housed in your child’s school. One member of the Child Study Team is usually assigned as case manager for your child. This is the person whom you should contact with questions regarding IEP implementation, particularly if it is a question the teacher cannot answer.
The psychologist is the member of the team who assesses your child’s developmental and cognitive abilities. During the initial evaluation, the psychologist will usually administer various tests which evaluate these abilities in both verbal and non-verbal forms. Copying puzzles, remembering series of numbers and being able to repeat them backwards and forwards are just two examples of tasks your child may be asked to perform as part of the school psychologist’s evaluation. This is the person your child may see should a crisis arise during school time.
The learning disabilities teacher-consultant (LDT-C) is someone who is trained in assessing your child academically. This person is a certified teacher who has gone through the training which allows him/her to evaluate where your child is now in the learning process. They are aware of various learning styles and help to create an academic plan for your child. This is the person you should consult with regarding the academics of your child.
The social worker is the member of the team who deals with the interactions of your child in relation to family, school and community. The social worker may evaluate your child and one or both parents or guardians of the child. The social worker may visit your home to get a better idea of the social interaction there. Part of their evaluation of your child may include asking you questions about their self-help skills. You may want to notify the social worker of any major changes in which you think may cause shifts in behavior and performance in your child.
Other Possible Team Members
Depending on what type of services your child needs, there may be several other team members involved, such as a behaviorist, physical therapist, occupational therapist and/or a speech-language therapist. These professionals bring their expertise to the table, and may be involved if your child needs any of these services.
Your Key Role
Finally, you (and your child, if appropriate) are an important member of the IEP team. If you would like to, you may bring a family member, friend, or advocate with you to support you at the meeting. An advocate can be anyone familiar with the special education process. Some states have lists of approved advocates that you can choose from. Speaking with other parents in a local support group is often a good resource for finding a strong advocate.
Everyone at the table comes with the same intention—that is, to assist your child in reaching their potential. Everyone may have different ideas about how to do that. Come to the meeting prepared, but with an open mind. You will be glad you did.