IEP Task Force Meeting #2, Live From Dover & Wilmington @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @dwablog @nannyfat #netde #eduDE


The IEP Task Force is meeting right now! I am here, reporting.

(editor’s note: typing and updating, will clean up later!)

Matt Denn: Certain proposals were deemed either great or bad.

Deb Heffernan: Service providers that stay through entire IEP meeting. In a perfect world, great idea, but reality is they have a limited amount of time and they need to see other children. “If Possible” would be a better option. Providing draft IEP to parents ahead of time could be confusing. Both could supply draft comments, but actual IEP could be a rehashing of the draft.

Mary Ann Mieczkowski: There has to be a discussion to make accommodations and goals.

Discussion going on right now about this whole draft issue. Lots of division amongst the task force on the issue. A school team has a draft already, so they are already ahead of the game. Some feel a questionnaire or parent input form should be given to the parents prior to the IEP meeting.

“I don’t consider it a sinister element for parents to have the draft ahead of time,” said Matt Denn.

Diane Eastburn said in the over 90 IEP meetings she has attended as an advocate, in every single one of them the school has already had it ready. The big picture is already understood by the school, but it is a good faith gesture to the parents to give them an advanced copy of the draft. Discussion about what is allowable under federal law. Eastburn explained that if you waive the 10 day notice period you are also waiving right to documents being sent ahead of time.

One proposal is “Insuring no IEP team is limited to a particular time frame.” Laura Manges said she allows 2 hours for each meeting and then they have to reschedule. It’s difficult to plan with no given time frame.

Matt Denn stopped and reminded members to announce their name before they speak so those listening to the audio recording can know who is speaking. This blogger is grateful for that.

Needra from PIC said to be wary of giving specific time frame because every IEP and student is different.

Senator Poore commented on speech pathologist Tracy Bombarra’s statement about having 26 IEPs so far in less than a month. Poore feels this is extreme and needs to be looked at. We wouldn’t accept that in the corporate world so why would we in this process? If every provider is stuck in IEP meetings, how are the providers giving services to the students who need them? Bill Doolittle thinks practice of having IEP meetings only during the school day is not practical. Bombarra asked what happens to funding when she has to work after school or on the weekends. No actual answers given.

House Representative Joe Miro bringing up graduation rates now. Now switching to finding good personnel to provide services. How are we attracting students to come to Delaware to provide services. We need to be competitive with funding. We lose people due to this matter.

Denn attempting to get meeting back on track. Will take these other matters on agenda for next meeting. Today is not the last day to bring up new matters.

Denn said there are 18 items to discuss and won’t be able to get through all of them today. First two overlap, which is “jargon” language in the IEP. (Certain terms have to be in the IEP: Editor’s note).

Dave Lawson asking if there is anything on the list that can be taken off? Denn expects the list to grow.

Liz Toney: We have to bring up the disability in the meeting. We should not have IEPs that are only academic goals.

Bill Doolittle: IEP is structured to identify needs. Goals are a measurement to see if needs are being met. It’s more about having a broad range of needs being met for the child. To go immediately to the goal corrupts the process.

Marissa Vann: Wants to see support in IEP where if student moves around from one district to another, the IEP will follow them.

Heffernan: Setting is for compliance with feds, like Least Restricted Environment.

Doolittle: Every sub or assistant should see IEPs so everyone knows what is in there and should be fully documented.

What happens in practice is things are being done for the entire class through an IEP and not the specific child.

(no consistency amongst the school districts or even the schools with each school district)

There are too many glitches in the system. It can create half an hour to create notice of meeting, for example, during hot IEP season. Before implementation of IEP plus, a lot of time being spent on computer issues. Bombarra said it takes three hours of prep time prior to the actual IEP meeting. Patricia Dallas commented that IEP Plus basically didn’t work after May 27th. Parent Rep Diane Eastburn talked about an IEP meeting she was at today where the screen kept turning blue and problems with the system caused an hour to be lost in the meeting. Denn jokingly said “Do we pay to have IEP Plus?”

Every non-task force member received a list of the Chair’s Summary of Proposals for Discussion. I will be posting that up later.

Heffernan again, all goals need to be data based. (Here comes the SMART goals). Group is losing direction, in my humble opinion.

Toney: She knows of IEP goals for attention, and goals that are measurable. Denn is talking about goals for social skills where children basically get friends at a young age, but that is hard to quantify. Denn said it’s hard to reduce them to numbers. Bombarra not recommending things like this be in an IEP, but rather more professional development for providers.

Denn exerting control over meeting. Mieczkowski said there can be more than one IEP meeting in a year. Have to have at least one annually. Denn learning the process. Doolittle said we have artificially compressed IEPs for this September 30th date. Patricia Dallas spoke about annual revision. If the team meets in a non-annual IEP meeting, can that count as the annual IEP meeting? (NO! Goals need to be gone over based on a year’s worth of goals)

Discussion about the September 30th count. There has to be classification by 9/30 to get funding. Denn wondering if there is anything in Federal law that dictates this. Mieczkowski said this is Delaware. Student needs to have complete IEP written with goals and accommodations (to calculate needs-based funding).

(Absolutely no discussion by this task force on charter school application enrollment preference and counseling out, not even on list of potential proposals)

Bombarra again talking about outside agencies like Easter Seals and their time constraints in terms of insurance. There are a lot of nuances.

(it seems like this task force is all about things that don’t help children access the benefits of an IEP, the focus needs to be less on the logistics behind it and more on the problems children are having with IEP denials and teachers not actually using the IEP and accommodating the students)

Denn talking about changing state law with needs-based funding. Mary Ann said it would be artificial to say you need complex level funding when the IEP hasn’t been created. Senator Lawson said how about we just let the funding follow the student! Much applause and clapping!

Public Comment: Dave Rose from Positive Outcomes. Been in special education for 40 years. Talking about how he created an IEP for each student in his class. Talking about how process has grown exponentially in the past 40 years. Talking about Positive Outcomes (Dave runs special ed for Positive Outcomes). Wants IEPs to be about the child, not the work behind getting an IEP together.

Another parent spoke about how each child is different, not enough parent fellowship.

This blogger spoke about the charter school issue I mentioned above. Talked about application enrollment preference and counseling out. I advised with priority schools situation occurring right now, over 300 children may be taken away from the services they have now and potentially be put in charter schools that have historically been shown not to provide adequate services. I advised the task force (Did mention Positive Outcomes and Gateway as charters not included due to them specializing in providing these types of services).

Shelly Alioia talking about moving 5 miles and district changed. Her son suffered, due to changes between districts. Not enough consideration for individual child. We need to be able to factor in the emotional damage done to children throughout the IEP process. Transitions aren’t consistent among different schools.

Meeting adjourned.

(I will clean this up later, wanted to get it live)

My thoughts on tonight’s meeting. Many walked out of there feeling like the task force has lost it’s purpose. As SCR 63, the legislative resolution for the task force states the following:


WHEREAS, Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) are the mechanism under federal and state law whereby schools determine what academic and other services should be provided to students with special needs, and what goals should be set for those students; and
WHEREAS, the process of developing IEPs for students in some of our state’s schools and school districts is, at best, difficult for parents to understand and navigate, and at worst in some instances, unfair and intimidating to parents; and
WHEREAS, the General Assembly has made efforts over the past several years to improve the IEP process, by passing legislation leveling up the services to which students with disabilities are entitled and legislation making it more economically feasible for parents dissatisfied with their children’s IEP to appeal the IEP decision; and
WHEREAS, notwithstanding these improvements, the IEP process does not always result in the best outcome for students with disabilities; and
WHEREAS, it is in the best interest of students with disabilities for Delaware to improve the IEP process used in its schools.

I can’t wait until the audio recording comes out so the entire state can hear how disjointed and unfocused this meeting was. Nothing against Matt Denn, but it seemed like it was all about what’s bad for the schools. Complaints about the computer system, and actual debate about providing advanced copies of the draft to parents so they don’t walk into a meeting blind, and some elements which could potentially violate IDEA law. It seemed like parent concerns have gone right out the window. One member of the task force took more notes during the ten or so minutes of public comment than during the actual meeting.

Having the task force in two separate locations seems like a bad idea at this point as well. I like the idea of it, but the practicality seems more focused on one location than the other. In my opinion, it should be in Dover. Nothing against the Wilmington folks, but this is a state-wide task force, and Dover is not only the capital, but also the central point of the state.

Nobody has brought up the upcoming roll-out of standards-based IEPs, the charter school special education fiasco in our state, IEP denials, or teachers not accommodating students. It’s become a bitch session for the schools and the providers of special ed services. How is any of this helping the parents? Yes, it might make IEP meetings a little shorter if they can fix the glitches in the system, but at the end of the day we want to trust the schools to do the right thing for our children. We don’t want to battle against teachers, admins and other providers. We want open communication, and for the schools to do what they say they are going to do, or to do what they are legally required to.

I couldn’t tell with the videoconferencing, but was Brian Touchette even there? What’s the point of being Governor Markell’s designee if you don’t even talk? Or show up? If anyone from the Wilmington group can let me know this.

The focus on the parent was lost tonight. I hope Matt Denn can steer the ship back, because the students with disabilities need this.


10 thoughts on “IEP Task Force Meeting #2, Live From Dover & Wilmington @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @dwablog @nannyfat #netde #eduDE

  1. OK so far I’ve seen four insane statements “limit time of IEP meetings” “Don’t give parents IEP draft ahead of time” only “some” feel like parents should be given input ahead of time insane!!


  2. Bombarra said it takes three hours of prep time prior to the actual IEP meeting.

    My heart bleeds for schools taking actual prep time for an IEP

    Where the hell are the parent representatives here?


  3. all goals need to be data based

    the problem, of course, is schools refusing the data provided by parents or health care professionals and insisting on their own interpretation of disabling conditions


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