The process involved in establishing a student’s individualized education program (IEP) can nurture a climate of trust if certain steps are followed. Ideally, the annual case conference is a systematic process that ultimately leads to effective programming for students on the autism spectrum. In order for the case conference to run smoothly, certain preliminary steps should be taken that involves setting up the meeting, gaining input from all involved, and creating meeting cultures that promote collaboration.
Let’s start by setting up the annual case conference meeting. The annual case conference must be set up at a “mutually agreed upon time.” This means the school can suggest times. However, parents have the right to say when they can attend if the stated time does not work for them. Each party needs to be reasonable about their request. Attempt to meet during lunch hour, before school, or after school. Give sufficient notice for parents to make arrangements with their employers to get off of work. If a parent does not respond, it is essential to keep trying to meet with them for the conference. Offer to provide transportation to and from school for the parent. If there are extreme health or other circumstances, school staff may need to consider meeting parents at their home. If these attempts don’t work, then conduct the meeting over the phone. School districts must make three attempts to contact parents for a case conference meeting. Be sure these attempts are sensitive and responsive to events surrounding the family member’s life. Parents are an essential member of their son or daughter’s educational team. Also, be sure to let the parent know they can bring a friend, an advocate, or anyone else they feel comfortable with. Being outnumbered by the numerous professionals that typically attend these meetings can be overwhelming to some parents.
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