Author: Perrin Thompson
I was most interested in this topic after recently working with a lot of kiddos with IEPs and attending the workshop presented by the Council for Children's Rights in Charlotte. While writing this post I was drinking a mocha!
The IEP team creates the IEP and must consist of:
- Student’s parent/guardian
- Student (if appropriate)
- Agent from the local education agency (LEA; usually a school district administrator)
- Special education teacher; and
- General Education teacher
Ideally, the IEP team will also include related service providers who work or will work with the student, which may include: physical therapists, occupational therapists, music therapists, speech and language pathologists, counselors, social workers, transportation aids, and health service providers.
The IEP is a legal document and must include:
- Student’s current strengths and needs
- Measurable goals to be monitored and attained annually (IEP reviewed annually)
- Accommodations, related services, and specially-designed instruction needed to help student attain goals; and
- How and when services will be provided
- Lack of expected progress towards annual goals
- Information gathered from any new evaluation or reevaluation
- Concerns voiced by any IEP team member
- Development or increase in behavioral concerns
As related service providers who may participate as members of the IEP team, music therapists can monitor progress a student is making in his/her goals listed on the IEP. If progress is not being made satisfactorily, the MT may want to talk to parents about requesting an IEP revision because the child may be falling behind on goals in areas that MT is not helping to accomplish as well. Related service providers are advocates for the clients; having a good understanding of the IEP process and student/parent rights can be extremely beneficial in guiding parents through what can be a tricky process.
During the meeting, participate, ask questions, get clarification, offer parental/student support, and present concerns in a constructive manner. It’s important to be respectful of other IEP team members in the meeting and work to foster relationships; the other members of the team can be immensely helpful in collaborating within a multidisciplinary approach in assisting the student. More specifically for music therapists, this may be the only interaction the team members get with a music therapist – it’s important to represent the profession well by being professional, organized, helpful, and prepared for IEP meetings.
After the meeting, offer support for parents and students. It’s a good idea to check in with them and make sure they don’t have any unanswered questions and to offer a listening ear, if need be. Request a copy of the new (or revised) IEP to keep with client documentation and assist in goal setting for the client. If possible, MT can contact other IEP team members/related service providers to check how student is doing in other areas throughout the year. Additionally, document communication with the student’s school and make sure that the student is receiving the services and accommodations that are guaranteed under his/her IEP. It can be difficult and time consuming, but follow up with administrators if you feel that student’s or service providers’ rights are not being respected. The IEP is a legal document and failure by the school to provide everything listed in a student’s IEP is a legal concern – stay vigilant and on top of things so that you can advocate for the student if need be.