top of page

A Parent’s Guide to Avoiding “Drive-Thru” IEP Meetings

Updated: May 10

IEP Meetings should not feel like going through a Drive-Thru!

Have you ever had a Drive-Thru IEP meeting? 

 If so, you may have had an experience like this…

🚗 The IEP is all written and handed to you as you sit down for the meeting. 

🚗 The team reads the IEP to you.  

🚗 When you comment on something they propose, they respond with something like, “Sure, we can add that to the Parent Concerns section” instead of engaging in a conversation.

🚗 Then you are asked to sign the IEP in full consent and you are sent on your way.  

You can almost hear them calling out “NEXT!” as you walk out the door! 

We call this a Drive-Thru IEP Meeting and it is far more common than it should be. 

When a meeting is held in this way it does not allow parents to be a full member of their child’s IEP team as required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). 

Avoid the Drive-Thru IEP by following these steps: 

  1. Prepare for your meeting by following the steps in our “4 Steps to Success” meeting checklist.  Preparation is the key to successful advocacy!

  2. Request a draft of your child’s IEP prior to the meeting.  School teams should provide this at least 2 business days before the meeting.  Review the proposed IEP to ensure that it accurately reflects your child’s needs and includes goals and services that will help them make measurable progress in the year ahead.

  3. Email the team prior to the meeting to let them know which items in the proposed IEP you would like to discuss before the meeting begins.  Now is also a good time to request your child’s most recent progress report if you haven’t received it.  This step will save you some time at the IEP table and it will let the team know that you expect to be an active and informed member of the team.  

  4. Ask as many questions as you feel are necessary and take the time you need to share your parental concerns.  Do not feel rushed through your child’s meeting.  If you cannot complete the discussion in the time allotted at this meeting, you may ask your team to reconvene to finish the discussion prior to signing the IEP.

  5. Never sign an IEP that you do not understand or do not agree with.  Continue the discussion until you have a resolution (as recommended above), follow your parental safeguards (which should be offered to you by your school team), or ask an expert for help.  An IEP is a legally binding document, so you should only sign it when you feel completely comfortable with its contents.  

5 signs it's time to get an advocate involved

If you continue to feel unheard by your IEP team, it may be time to get a professional educational advocate involved.  Our dyslexia advocacy practice prides itself on providing collaborative advocacy that opens communications and builds bridges between parents and school staff while holding schools accountable for providing the Free and Appropriate Public Education students with special needs require.


Lorraine Hightower | Dyslexia Advocate

Are you worried that your dyslexic child is falling behind in school?

Are you ready to see your child learn and thrive?

If so, we can help! Our advocacy practice has helped countless families transform the lives of their children, and create more peace and harmony at home.

While it isn’t always easy, it CAN happen, and we will support you every step of the way. Let’s Talk about how we can help your family!


bottom of page