The Perceptions of Parents of Students with Disabilities Towards the IEP Meeting

James, Brian
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Centenary University
Despite federal legislation mandating parental participation in the design and delivery of special education services for children with disabilities, parents report feeling marginalized by educators as they are not treated as equal members of the educational teams of their children. As a result, a child’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is a common source of conflict in special education. This study sought to determine factors which may shape parental perceptions of their interactions with educators during the IEP meeting including the disability classification, academic placement, grade level, and size of school district of the child. Through the use of a survey instrument (n = 164), the study found that parents of students with the disability classification of autism and students in more restrictive academic environments enjoyed better relations with educators than did peers. Relations with educators were found to degrade over time as students progressed from elementary to secondary schools. The size of the school district provided mixed findings regarding relations with educators, as parents of students with disabilities in larger school districts enjoyed better relationships with special education teachers and paraprofessional staff. By treating parents as equals during IEP meetings, education professionals minimize feelings of frustration that can lead to conflict. When adversarial relationships are avoided, conditions are created that can lead to greater student achievement and improved outcomes.
children with disabilities, Individualized Education Plan, special education, student achievement, parents of students with disabilities