As the parent (or guardian) of the child you are entitled to bring anyone you wish to the IEP meeting. I encourage you to bring at least one other person with you. Many parents bring another family member or close friend. A lot of information about your child will be discussed and two sets of ears are better than one. Sometimes what is being discussed is also emotionally charged and/or difficult to hear, which may make it more difficult to remember everything discussed. Having another person there with you will give you someone to process all the information with. I also suggest that you bring a pen and paper with you to write down questions that come up, things you’d like clarified, important points and your desires for your child’s education.
It may also be helpful to both you and the school district to invite professionals you have hired outside of school to the meeting. This could include, but is not limited to; a tutor, a coach, a therapist, a caseworker or an advocate. Including anyone who you feel has important knowledge of your child’s educational needs, deficits and strengths may lead to a more comprehensive IEP and may help the school personnel better understand your child. Make sure you discuss whether the private provider will charge you for their time at the meeting because it is likely that they will.
If you have any indication that an IEP meeting may be contentious or that you may significantly disagree with the school district I encourage you to contact a local parent advocacy group and ask if there is someone who can attend the meeting with you. Parent advocates are trained in the special education laws of the state you live in so they can help you negotiate that everything is being handled appropriately and by the book. If you choose to have an advocate with you, be aware that the school district may view this negatively.
As a courtesy to the school district, it is best to let them know ahead of time if you will be bringing a number of people to the meeting so they can make sure and have a space that will accommodate everyone. Many schools do not have conference rooms and all participants have to be squeezed into small offices. Prior notice will assure that valuable meeting time is not taken up with finding chairs or relocating the meeting to another room.
Who have you brought with you to IEP meetings? What has your experience been with bringing support people to IEP meetings with you?