How a SPED case manager organizes remote IEP meetings
by Diana Parafiniuk
The Department of Education has made it clear that all students, including students with disabilities, continue to receive an excellent education during emergency school closures due to Covid-19. Newly-minted teletherapists feel like a fish-out-of-water, especially when thinking about conducting a remote IEP meeting!
We have had numerous questions come in, and the one that has surfaced repeatedly is “How do I have an IEP meeting now?”
To answer that question and share practical tips, we want to share our expertise on how to conduct IEP meetings virtually while students are at home.
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Are HIPAA requirements being relaxed now?
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, some rules have been relaxed so that schools and parents can access curriculum and services the quickest and easiest way possible. Here is the latest guidance on that HIPAA.
Are IEP meetings required and when should they be held?
During this time of year, a typical annual IEP meeting schedule would be required. Even though students are at home, it is important to follow the annual IEP dates of renewal.
If your student’s annual IEP date ends during this school closure, you have the option to file an extension on your IEP platform, to provide your team more time to prepare for the meeting in a remote setting.
How many people are required to be at the IEP meeting?
All members of the team, including parents, should be present even though the IEP meeting is being held remotely. Be sure to fill out on your Prior Written Notice (PWN) that the IEP meeting was held via Telepractice Service Delivery Model.
Since everyone is connecting remotely, are there requirements about recording the meeting?
If you are the organizer and host of the meeting, you can record the meeting and store it. You must notify all members of the team that you will be recording the meeting and get their permission, should you decide that you would like to use this option.
Who is responsible for calling IEP team members together?
Team member roles still apply if the IEP meeting is being held remotely. Typically, the SPED case manager is the organizer of the IEP meeting and is responsible for inviting all members, providing the agenda, taking notes, and providing final drafts and meeting notices of what took place at the meeting.
All of these responsibilities are still necessary no matter how the meeting has taken place, whether onsite or remote.
How long should the IEP meeting be?
Allocate an hours time for the IEP meeting. It may run longer or shorter depending on the individual needs of the student who is receiving services. Allocate the necessary time for the entire meeting so that you are not interrupted by background, at-home activity.
Do we have to be on video or can we have a call-in meeting?
I recommend that you share your webcams – even if you are uncomfortable being on video – because your families and team members are used to being onsite, in person, and the remote IEP meeting will feel more like your onsite meetings if you can see one another.
I’m not good at technology. How do I get ready for my first online IEP meeting?
Conducting an IEP meeting remotely is equivalent to conducting an IEP meeting onsite. There are a few details with moving it online that you need to get comfortable with:
- Set up your meeting space
It is important that you are located in a quiet room with good lighting so that the IEP team can hear and see you clearly.
- Prepare IEP copies in advance
You will need to make sure that every team member has a copy of the draft IEP before the meeting takes place, so that team members can follow along during the meeting.
If there are discussions and changes to the IEP while the meeting is being conducted, inform all team members that they will receive an updated and final version of the signed IEP once the meeting is concluded.
If there are members of the team that cannot access the copy of the IEP, then make sure you understand how to screen share, so everyone is looking at the same thing.
- Send a digital invitation in advance
Using your district’s preferred teleconferencing platform, create a meeting and get the link. You will need to digitally invite all team members with the appropriate time frame of the IEP meeting notice, usually not less than 7 days before.
Make sure that all team members receive a meeting link with the correct time and date and online link that the team will be using for the IEP meeting.
Make sure that all team members have RSVPd to ensure that all members will be available to attend the remote IEP meeting. One day before the meeting, send a reminder to team members and parents.
- Test the tech
Log on 10-15 minutes early, so that you can test your microphone and speakers to make sure that you can host the online IEP meeting successfully.
Additionally, make sure that you have a digital copy of the IEP that you can share on your screen as you refer to different parts of the IEP while you are reviewing each section. You can use the highlighter on your platform to outline or highlight different reference points you are talking about.
Inform the team how to use online digital tools, such as “raising their hand” or muting or unmuting their microphone when they want to speak.
Do I need to do anything after the IEP meeting?
Summarize any changes that were made to the IEP before the meeting is over. If there are action items, make sure everyone understands what they are to do and when. Make sure that everyone digitally signs the IEP.·
Mail a copy of the IEP and any additional documents to the parents and other team members post meeting. You can also send them a copy via email.
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