What is a parent input statement?
According to IDEA law, Congress found that the education of children with disabilities can be made more effective by “strengthening the role and responsibility of parents and ensuring that families of such children have meaningful opportunities to participate in the education of their children at school and at home;” Specifically the law says, “Parents are free to provide input into their child’s IEP through a written report if they so choose.”
The parent input statement is your chance to be the expert. The entire table is filled with people who are experts in their field, they all go around and say what they think, what they’ve learned. You get a turn too.
If you have you IEP handy, flip through the first couple pages, do you see something that says parent input, parent vision, parental statement? If you’ve found it, what does it say?
Let me tell you a secret. I’ve been IEPing for YEARS. I would have considered myself a seasoned veteran… and mine was BLANK up until a few years back. Why? My input was added to the notes section. This isn’t bad necessarily, but what I can tell you is that when new teachers or staff are looking at a new IEP, they are not reading line by line. They are skimming for the key points. MISSING much of your input from the meeting notes. We want the parent input statement you create to be copy and pasted in the correct spot. OR we want a “see notes” note in the input section so teachers know to look for your input and concerns.
You have insight into your child that no one else does and it’s important to share what you know with the IEP team. Especially this year! In the spring, we had a unique opportunity to watch our children learn. What did you learn? The team needs this information in order to support your child in the most appropriate way possible.
So what goes in the parent input statement?
You want to include mostly fact based statements. This can be short, just a couple sentences, you can bullet point it, but I would keep it around a page at most. We want to highlight the really important things rather than write a novel.
First, Parent input should include your goals, long term and short term and your concerns.
This year I want Mason to be able to improve his ability to self advocate when he is overwhelmed or confused about an assignment. I hope that Mason is able to join a team sport without anxiety preventing him to try. I am concerned that Mason does not know how to navigate social relationships when there are bumps in the road.
Also we need to be including tips for the team, especially if there is new information to share like with remote schooling. You should be drawing a picture of your child so that your IEP passes the stranger test. What’s the stranger test? If you suddenly moved cross country, a whole new school, team, teachers… would they be able to pick up your child’s IEP and KNOW exactly where the last team left off? Would they understand what you know about your child?
What is your child good at?
What are their strengths and motivators?
How do they learn best?
When they are struggling, what kind of supports do they need?
Mason is a compassionate kiddo who loves soccer and Fortnite. He is motivated to please and likes following the rules when he can. He struggles to see things from others point of view and struggles with feeling different than his peers. He tends to shut down when put on the spot and would prefer non verbal communication or private conversations away from peers. When he is struggling, it is best to let him move away from peers, use minimal language and allow him to work through the emotions on his own. Once calmed, he typically able to discuss what happened. He values positive reinforcement and benefits from direct 1:1 explanation of assignments and expectations. He frequently fidgets and moves in his seat and may appear to not be paying attention, though learns best when moving.
If you have concerns that are frequently ignored, adding them to the parent input statement could help support a case should you ever run into mediation or due process. Once your concerns are added to your statement, email them to the team. These concerns will need to be discussed at the meeting. If you disagree with something, it is also important to state your disagreement in the IEP in a reasonable but fact-based way.
(Keep in mind I am not a lawyer and cannot give legal advice, but I want you to be educated on your rights. More specific information on this can be found on the IDEA website.)
You may also want to include strategies tried, behavior concerns, medical concerns, any area of need not identified and any data you have to support what you may be asking for.
Prior to the meeting, you will want to email your written statement to the team and say something like.
I am looking forward to our meeting tomorrow. Here is my parent input. I would like it attached to the IEP and discussed at the meeting.
This is such a simple way to advocate for your child and it can create a huge impact. Again, it doesn’t have to be lengthy and fancy, a few sentences or bullet points will get your input across. Keep it fact based and use supporting data when available. Feel free to read it aloud at the meeting, straight from the page even. IEP meetings are emotional and it’s easy to forget what you want to say. Preparing the input ahead of time helps you feel confident and prepared.
Need help writing your parent input statement? Head over here to set up a time to chat calendly.com/nicoleschlechteradvocacy
OR Grab my free parent input template below to get started.