Roadmap: IEP

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Parent requests testing.

As a parent, if you think your child will need an IndividualizedEducation Plan (IEP) then you can request your local public school to do testing to see if your child qualifies. The IEP became law when the Individuals with Disabilities Act was enacted. Because of that, there are precise timelines your school must follow once you have initiated the process. After you ask for testing in writing, the school has15 days to consider the request. If they decide to do an assessment, they have another 15 days to develop an assessment plan and give it to you to review.

Once you sign the assessment plan, the school has 60 days to complete testing and conclude if your child is eligible for an IEP.

Eligibility

Thirteen different disabilities qualify for an IEP. Parents should request a full educational evaluation be completed to assess their child’s needs.

Assessment

The school will schedule an assessment for your child. This assessment will include parental observations and the observations of the school’s therapist. To qualify for an IEP your child’s disability must impair their learning and educational performance. Theoretically, you could have a child who is diagnosed with autism but not be given an IEP. If that happens, the school might suggest that your child be placed on a 504 plan instead. (Click here to read the difference between an IEP and a 504)

MET

After the assessment, you will usually have a Multi-disciplinary Evaluation Team meeting.During this meeting, they will review the evaluations’ results and inform you if your child is eligible for an IEP. If they are, you will then schedule an IEP meeting. If they are not eligible, it is your right to ask for outside testing. They might also suggest that your child be placed on a 504plan instead. (Click here to read the difference between an IEP and a 504)

IEP ( tool – IEP team contact information)

If your child is given an IEP you will have your first meeting to discuss your child’s goals. At the meeting will be you, the school specialists who will work with your child (PT, OT, Speech, etc), a school representative, the general education teacher, and the special education teacher. As your child ages you can also have them present for the meetings to encourage them to advocate for goals that are important for them.

One thing to keep in mind with the IEP’s is that they are legal documents. If it is written into theIEP the school has to provide that accommodation for your child. If it is not written, then they don’t have to do it. If something is important to you, say that your child have a 1:1 aid during the school day-get it in writing.

The IEP form will discuss your child’s assessment data, their strengths, their needs, the educational impact of that need, and your input. The school will then create SMART (Specific,Measurable, Attainable, Results-Oriented, Time-based) goals for your child. A great way to tell if your goals are well written you should look at each goal and ask this question: If you gave this goal to someone unfamiliar with your child, would they understand the goal and be able to work on it?

IEP updates/changes

Once an IEP is written, it is good for one year. After that year, you will review the goals and make adjustments if necessary. As a parent, if you feel that your child has not been making progress on their IEP’s you can request a meeting at any time.

Disputing the IEP

If you do not agree with what is written on the IEP, you do not have to sign it.You also have the option of only signing the parts you do agree with. If at any time you have a concern about the IEP, you can request a review in writing. The school must hold this review meeting within 45days of your written request. If you cannot come to an agreement with the school about your child’s IEP, you have the right to mediation and due process.You can learn more about these options at https://www.azed.gov/disputeresolution