A Parent IEP binder is a 3-ring binder used to organize your child’s IEP and other school documents.
Here’s what you need and how to put an IEP binder together
- 1 ½ inch 3 D style ring binder. The kind with a clear front that you can slide a piece of paper into
- Set of 5 dividers for binder
- Lined notebook paper for binder
- Sheet protectors (25 set or less)
- Pencil pouch containing the following:-
- Two ballpoint pens
- Two pencils with good erasers
- Two highlighter pens
- Small sticky notes to highlight areas in IEP
- Regular sticky notes
In the front of the binder, create a name page with your child’s name on it to slide into the clear plastic front of the binder.
Create a contact list with all of the contact people that work with your child, as well as the administrative staff in your school and school district. Some districts have a support specialist that will be designated to work at your school.
You can ask your school secretary to provide you with all of the contact information that you’re seeking, however, the people come from a variety of sources. Here’s how I normally do it. (You don’t have to print everything if you’re compiling a list on one page.)
I like to get a “big picture” idea of how the school and the school district is operating.
Go online and find out the following regarding your school and/or school district:-
- School district special education director name and address
- Special education director and specialists list and possibly an organizational chart*
- School district calendar for this school year and next school year
- Your school principal’s name, secretary name, phone number, address and all contact information to do with the school
(Then add these to your phone contacts if they are not already in there)
- Your school’s bell schedule
- Your states special education legal timelines
From your current signed IEP:
Gather the names of all the school staff and specialists that signed the IEP and make a list of them. This can usually be found either at the front or the back of the IEP.
Get all of their contact information; phone number and e-mail information and add this to your contact information in your binder.
This is public information, i.e. it is a public school and all of this information is publically accessible to you or any member of the public who asks for it.
Why? I hear you ask? Why go to all that trouble to have all of this information?
Well, this is your child and all of the administrators/teachers/specialists at the school are working with your child. You should be developing a relationship with the people working with your child. Hopefully, this is a positive relationship. If you have a question and need an answer, who are you going to call? Or email?
All of these people know each other and can pick up the phone and call each other, and call you (except no-one is calling you except when you kids in trouble I’m guessing)? You’ve got to level the playing field and be able to do the same in return. Public schools are just that, public. They are in fact required to be transparent, you simply have to access what’s there in front of you, and learn to play the game.
Organize your binder with the dividers in a way that makes sense to you.
Some people use the tabs to make sections for IEPs, reports, letters to the school, Rights, Parent Goals (for the IEP meeting) and so forth.
Use the sheet protectors to house your school calendars and the items that you’re going to keep for a while such as those phone contact lists.
What should I bring to an IEP meeting?
When you show up at your school meetings with your binder so thoroughly organized, the school staff will respect you. They will respect the fact that you have your act together and have shown up prepared to work with the school for your child. This is part of a win-win-win strategy.
The Parent IEP binder is just being organized. You also need to have your list of questions, your parent goals/outcomes for the meeting, and your child’s goals prepared.
How do teachers prepare for IEP meetings?
The same way! Teachers are typically very organized people. I’m referring to the good ones. They have curriculum laid out and they have all of their resources and contacts all set up just like one of these Parent IEP binders.
When it comes to IEPs, many teachers and specialists have their goals already written, although technically this is not how it should be done, as the IEP team is supposed to work together to develop the goals for the student. The team includes the parent. So if the goals are prepared ahead of time, and the parent hasn’t weighed in on the development of the goals that is a concern.
*A note about the special education organization chart
I recently printed out a school district special education organizational chart for a parent. It was very interesting to see the “lay of the land” in the school district! The school district was very top heavy in administrative staff, in fact, layers and layers of them. Lots of lines and possibly important people. At the level of staff providing the actual service to the student? Not so much. Guess who was there? Hardly anyone at all. It was a sad testament to who works with the students. There were empty boxes with no names at the student level with “contract staff” listed in these positions.
Knowing how many people should fill these spots in a district that large, my heart sank. I could imagine these contract positions being a revolving door of dissatisfied specialists stretched too thin with never enough coverage for the needs of the students. Looking at the organizational chart gives you a window into how the students are receiving the specialist’s services. Children are in special education because they need specialized instruction and supports…..where are the specialists?
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