Three Practical Tips for Preparing for An IEP Meeting

IEP meetings can be time intensive and stressful. Notwithstanding, they are a critical part of providing your child with the support he or she needs to be successful. As the parent or guardian, you are an integral part of the IEP Team and often your child’s best advocate. Below are three tips to help you prepare for a successful meeting.

Tip 1: Organize and Review Your Child’s File.

I highly recommend that you keep a large binder with your child’s records. This binder should include a section for each of the following:

• Evaluations

• Consent Forms

• IEPs

• Meeting Notices

• Progress Monitoring Data

• Correspondence (emails, letters, etc.).

Keep these documents in reverse chronological order with the most current information on top. This makes it easier to see what happened at the previous meeting, including what placement, services and accommodations/modifications were instated. Make sure you have a copy of your parental rights well.

 

Tip 2: Create a List of Issues or Questions You Want to Address.

After you review your child’s file, reflect on any concerns you had since the previous IEP meeting. Here are some questions to get you started:

• Has my child been making progress?

• Is he or she child still in the least restrictive environment?

• Are the evaluations up to date — less than 3 years old?

 

Tip 3: Avoid Going to IEP Meetings Alone.

If possible, parents or guardians should attend meetings with another family member or friend. This person can provide emotional support as a friendly face in the room. Additionally, they can function as a second set of ears, notes and perspective throughout the meeting. Your meeting buddy can also help you debrief the meeting and make suggestions as to how to proceed.

Check back for more tips on how to prepare for an IEP meeting.

Know Your Rights: Special Education and Parents’ Rights


If you are new to the world of special education, you may be overwhelmed by the process, the paperwork and all the information provided to you from various sources. One important resource to keep and read is the Parent’s Rights Handbook.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 34 C.F.R. § 300 et seq., commonly known as IDEA, is the federal law protecting the rights of students with disabilities to receive a free appropriate public education (“FAPE”) in their least restrictive environment (“LRE”). IDEA provides parents of such students with certain rights also. Below is a general overview of those rights.

Parents have the right to:

1.  A full explanation of the Procedural Safeguards available under the IDEA and related regulations.

2.  Preserve the Confidentiality of their child’s eligibility, special education and related services, or other personally identifiable information.

3.  Inspect and Review the educational records relating to their child.

4.  Participate in meetings related to the identification, evaluation, and placement of their child and the provision of FAPE to their child.

5.  Obtain an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) of their child.

6.  Receive Prior Written Notice about proposed evaluations, meetings, or changes in program or eligibility.

7.  Give or Deny Consent before the school takes certain actions regarding their child.

8.  Disagree with decisions made by the school system on these issues.

9.  Use IDEA’s mechanisms for dispute resolution, including the right to appeal.

IDEA includes many other procedural safeguards to protect your child’s rights. The ones listed, however, are the most relevant to most parents. Effective advocacy requires parental involvement including an understanding of what schools and schools districts are legally obligated to do. Stay tuned for additional posts explaining each of the above-mentioned safeguards.

Questions or need legal assistance? Contact me today at info@theeffiongfirm.com.

Know Before You Go: Three Myths about 501(c)(3) Nonprofits

Despite the rise in social enterprises, nonprofits continue to be the legal structure of choice for social entrepreneurs and do-gooders alike. Before you start a journey that is as rewarding as it is challenging, here are three myths we need to dispel.

1. MYTH: Nonprofit Founders Own the Nonprofit.

Nonprofit founders are often shocked to learn that their board can vote them out of the organization. It is true. Despite all your blood, sweat and tears you can be ousted from the organization. How could that be? Well, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit is a public charity governed by a board of directors. The board makes decisions about the nonprofit including whether you continue to be a fit.

2. MYTH: Nonprofits Only Have To Worry About the Mission.

Au contraire! The mission is a large part of the work but it is not all of it. Nonprofits are business organizations. They have budgets and expenses like any other business.  They are also subject to audits and reporting requirements, sometimes more frequently, than “traditional” businesses. You cannot sustain meaningful impact if you are operating in the red. Therefore, your nonprofit needs to break even at a minimum.

3. MYTH: Nonprofits are an Easy Way to Get Free” Money.

There are more than 1.5 million nonprofit organizations registered in the United States.[1] All competing for funding from the same sources: the government, businesses, foundations and private donors. Getting funding requires planning, pitching and a healthy dose of persistence. It also requires compliance with several rules and regulations. Noncompliance could mean lack of funding and problems with your donors, your state’s attorney general office or the IRS.

Nonprofit organizations are here to stay and that is a good thing. Its effectiveness will be enhanced as we continue to dispel some of these myths.

[1]

National Center for Charitable Statistics, Quick Facts About Nonprofits, http://nccs.urban.org/statistics/quickfacts.cfm

(last visited Oct. 30, 2016).

What is Social Enterprise Law?

Have you been confused by buzz words like social entrepreneurship or social enterprise? Are you curious about what social enterprise law is? Well, you have come to the right place. Today’s post is a quick primer on a rapidly growing area of business and law.

Before we dive in, here is a quick glossary of relevant terms.

• Social Entrepreneurship: A field where entrepreneurs tailor their activities so that they are tied directly with the ultimate goal of creating a social good.[1] Social entrepreneurship focuses on solving complex social problems and making social gains not just maximizing profit gains.

• Social Entrepreneur: An “individuals with innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems . . . They act as change agents of society, seizing opportunities others miss to improve systems, invent new approaches, and create solutions to change society for the better.”[2] 

• Social Enterprise: Any “business model that, to a significant degree, has a mission-driven motive.”[3]

Social enterprise law is the application of corporate and transactional legal services to mission-driven enterprises in the for profit, nonprofit and hybrid space. Social enterprise lawyers, like myself, assist clients with selecting the most appropriate legal structure to fulfill their mission and purpose. Additionally, we counsel social enterprises on all aspects of corporate formation, governance and transactions, including incorporating social purpose in corporate documents and structuring and drafting relevant agreements. 

If you are considering starting a mission-driven business it is worthwhile to consult with a knowledgeable attorney. Contact me today to make sure you are on the right path.

[1] Samer Abu-Sifan, Social Entrepreneurship: Definition and Boundaries, Technology Innovation Management Review, Feb. 2012

[2] Ashoka Innovators for the Public, What is a Social Entrepreneur, https://www.ashoka.org/social_entrepreneur.

[3] Marc J. Lane, Social Enterprise: Empowering Mission-Driven Entrepreneurs, 7 ABA 2011.