When you start out your (FIRST)(transitional) IEP meeting and the principal greets you with, "Don't think there will be this many people here for Bubbles' IEP ever again!", it is probably not a good sign and your bad omen feeling of walking into an antagonistic situation is correct.
Because in a moment, it may come up that you did in fact, ask for a copy of the IEP to be viewed 48 hours before the meeting, and why didn't you get it, the principal will look at everyone who was present at the IFSP meeting (in which she made this agreement), glare at them, and blatantly lie as she says to you, "I never agreed to that. I said I would try to get you a copy."
And your lip may quiver a bit, because you know she is wrong and already being intimidating and the meeting just started, so why do you have such a bad feeling about what is about to happen?
And then you will remind her that you asked for this copy five whole weeks ago, and why wasn't five weeks enough time, and she will get very angry with you for mentioning this in front of the nine other people there and raise her voice just enough to toss a hint of derision in, "No, it was actually THREE WEEKS ago." and then when you try and correct her, you will realize that she is loudly calling you a liar and you are wondering why you have such a bad feeling about this.
Traditionally, the IEP is the time for negotiation, but this truly is a grey area. They may negotiate, or you may be faced with a principal (like ours) who refuses to negotiate solely because there is an audience of nine other professionals, and she has a 'precedence' to maintain.
When you suggest to the someone on the IEP team that you don't like to negotiate and can't you just tell them what your son needs so you don't have to play games, and they insist that IEP meetings are for negotiating, you may believe them.
So you may be surprised at the meeting, when the principal says to you, "What we are prepared to offer you is this." And what she really means is, this is it. There will be no negotiating.
And then proceeds to refuse to listen to anything you have to say because she will not negotiate, and what they are prepared to offer you is ONLY this and nothing more, so don't ask.
If you, in your misguided attempts to negotiate, suggest that you know something about the funding allocations of your school district and you notice your principal begin to turn red and sputtery and her mouth opens and she begins spewing out unconnected phrases about funding and precedence, remind yourself that she is not supposed to be talking about why they can not afford to pay for your child, and you should RUN AWAY.
When you become tearfully intimidated and realize that everyone is staring at you because you just said you did not wish to sign the IEP, your friend who came along to offer her support and her stellar negotiating skills may notice that you are upset and scribble a note to you. You may scribble a note back to her, because you are, after all, both caught unaware and at the disadvantage since you did not receive a copy of the IEP before the meeting and it is not going very well at all. When you scribble your reply to her, if your principal interrupts the person talking at that moment to address you by saying, "Excuse me ladies, would you like us all to take a break so that you two can continue to have your little communication over there that is apparently so important that it cannot wait?"
...And you are speechless as you look up in horror at what she just did...this would be a great opportunity to RUN AWAY.
When the facilitator of the meeting, the school psychologist, begins spewing and spitting and turning red as he challenges the credentials of the behavioral psychologist who has been working (successfully!) with your son for a year, this is a good sign that it is time to RUN AWAY.
When you state again that it is not an acceptable package and you do not wish to sign it, and your principal threatens that your child will suffer if you do not sign it, this is the moment at which you must get up and leave the meeting.
When you walk out of the meeting, trembling and angry and smacked down and overhear the school psychologist saying something to another professional which proves that he lied to you about the 'special school' he sent you to a few weeks ago (yes, it really is a school for children with autism, and he knew that when he answered 'no' to that specific question when you asked it), it is time to cut your losses.
Go home, and write down all the facts. Fire the school psychologist.
Fire whomever you need from your team.
You have to work with the principal, but she will be dealt with too.
Especially since you know now that two separate people have filed a formal complaint about her performance, intimidation tactics, and all around glaring lack of professionalism at your meeting.
Go back the next day and SUCK IT UP for your kid.
Bubbles will receive three hours per week of 1:1 speech therapy with the guru.
We will pay for the transition time from ABA therapy to traditional SLP, since the school district categorically refuses to pay one penny of it. NOT based on my son's need, but to quote the principal, "If we did it for you, then every one would expect it!"
Such trendsetters are we.