California Education Lawyers

An Overview of an Individualized Education Programs: Part 2

  • By:sierraedlaw

After a few years struggling in the education system, your child displays several learning disabilities that require the implementation of special education services. You have requested to have your child placed in a special education program to enhance the learning environment and the school has approve the request. What comes next is the process called creating an Individualized Education Program (IDEA).

An IEP Defined

An IEP represents a written document that a public school develops for children who qualify for a special education. The tailored education involves the collaboration of several team members that include a child’s parents. Under federal law, the team must determine that a child possesses a disability and the child needs special education services to benefit from an IEP. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandates specific information that the multidisciplinary team must include in an IEP. However, IDEA does not define how an IEP should look. IEP forms vary by state, as well as vary among school systems.

Who Joins an IEP Team?

An IEP team comprises the following participants:

  • Parents
  • General education teacher
  • Special education teacher
  • Representative of the school system
  • Representatives from transition services
  • Psychologist who interprets the results of a child’s evaluation

A special education teacher must possess the training and experience to educate children who have learning disabilities, as well as the training and experience working with general educators to plan for special learning accommodations. Sometimes, an IEP team can include the child, especially older children who need special education services to enhance learning in high school.

Qualifying for an IEP

Your child struggles mightily in science class and despite the active assistance of the teacher, your child falls behind his academic peers. This example does not automatically qualify your child for an IEP. First, parents, teachers, doctors, counselors and virtually anyone who suspects a child struggles because of learning disabilities can request an evaluation. Second, an IEP team decides whether to provide your child with special education services. IDEA mandates special education services for 13 learning disabilities. However, learning impediments such as ADHD require the input of an IEP team.

What’s In an IEP?

An IEP is not a contract, but more of a blueprint that sets the course for special education services at school and in the classroom. It contains information about your child’s present performance level, which includes grades and areas of academic deficiencies. An IEP also includes measurable goals that a child can “reasonably reach within one year.” Members of an IEP team set goals by evaluating a child’s current academic performance level and then setting a timeline to improve the academic performance. The reauthorization of IDEA in 2004 contains language that requires “objectives” and “benchmarks.” According to the reauthorization, an IEP must include “a description of how the child’s progress toward the annual goals … will be measured and when periodic reports on the progress the child is making toward annual goals will be provided” Finally, an IEP must list the special education and related services a child can expect to receive.

The Role for Parents

Parents should embrace the chance to add input for a child’s IEP. We recommend you consult with a special education teacher before the first IEP meeting. Communicate with the school staff and faculty to gain some insight into what will be discussed at the first IEP. Write down your suggestions for providing special education services for your child. We strongly urge both parents attend the initial IEP meeting to prevent being overwhelmed by a flood of information. Ask questions, if you do not comprehend the terms used by faculty and school administrators.

Our law firm specializes in helping parent navigate special education laws. To learn more about how an IEP can help your child, contact one of our licensed attorneys today to arrange an initial consultation.

Posted in: IEP's, Special Education, Student Advocacy