The special education process can be overwhelming at times. PAC members, as parents of children receiving services through LESA, we understand that information is key and our main priority is to communicate our knowledge and experiences with our community.
Please find below some helpful information on the IEP (Individualized Education Program).
Michigan Alliance for Families has many helpful webinars & workshops on IEPs. Visit their website here for more info: https://www.michiganallianceforfamilies.org/iep/
Contact our Regional Parent Mentor, Stephanie Nicholls: firstname.lastname@example.org
IEP (Individualized Education Program)
An IEP is a written plan for a student with a disability that specifically identifies the special education programs and/or related services the student will receive. Members of the IEP are the parent(s) of the child, at least one general education teacher, the special education teacher and/or provider of the student, the student (when appropriate) and anyone else the school or parent deems necessary.
The IEP is developed at a meeting attended by all members listed above and must be reviewed annually.
The requirements of what has to be included in the IEP are:
A statement of
- the student’s present level of academic achievement and functional performance (PLAAF).
- measurable annual goals and short term objectives that are designed to enable the student to be involved in, and progress in, the general education curriculum, and meet each of the student’s other educational needs related to his/her disability.
- how the student’s progress toward meeting the annual goals will be measured and how the parents will be informed of that progress.
- the special education programs, related services and/or supplementary aids to be provided to the student, and any program accommodations, modifications, or supports for the school to provide.
- when the student will not participate with non-disabled children in the general education environment and other activities.
- any accommodations the student would need to take the state- and/or district-wide assessment tests (If the IEP Team determines that the test is not appropriate for the student, a different assessmanet will be used).
- transition services that would prepare the student for adult life, beginning at least by age 16.
- The projected starting date for services as well as the duration, anticipated frequency, and location of where programs and services will be delivered.
Parents’ role in the Decision-Making Process
- Parents are key members in all decision-making meetings such as meetings that determine the identification, evaluation, educational placement, re-evaluation, and the appropriate education of their child.
- Parents give consent for initial evaluations, initial placements and re-evaluations.
- Parents will receive reports on their child’s progress at least as often as students without IEPs.
- Parents can request all evaluation documentation prior to the IEP meeting.
Following are some suggestions that can help you make
the most of the IEP process for you and your child!
Remember: If you have any questions or concerns during the IEP meeting, please make sure to address them –
it’s YOUR child’s education!
Before the IEP Team Meeting:
- Gather information: talk with your child's teacher and others who evaluated your child. Read their reports before the meeting.
- Review the last IEP and your child’s reports. Were your child's goals met? What are some skills you think your child will need in the coming year?
- Write down your questions, concerns and suggestions so you can take them to the meeting for discussion.
- Helpful information can be gained if you observe your child in their current school program.
- Call the special education office to find out the location of specific programs being considered for your child. Try to schedule a visit to observe them prior to the meeting.
- You can call your PAC (Parent Advisory Committee) representative if you need help identifying resources.
- Be prepared to share your child's strengths and interests. Please also share any reports from services your child receives outside of school.
- It is helpful if both parents can attend the IEP meeting. Remember you are allowed to bring someone else with you, such as a relative, friend, advocate, or professional.
- Consider having your child attend the IEP meeting, even if only for a short time. It is a great opportunity to meet the child. Just let your child’s special education provider know. Discuss the purpose of the meeting before it occurs, so that your child can think about what they would like their goals to be for the year.
During the IEP Team Meeting:
- Plan to participate in the meeting by sharing your opinions and ideas. This is a TEAM meeting, and you are an important member.
- Ask for an explanation of any term or acronym you do not understand.
- Ask about the advantages and disadvantages of all proposals (including programs, modifications, etc.) as they are proposed. Ask for explanations if you do not understand.
- If your child attends, make sure they are comfortable enough to provide input. If they become uncomfortable at the meeting, it is okay for them to leave and the meeting can continue.
- Transition into adulthood needs and services will be discussed if your child is 16 years old or older, and transition pages will be included in the IEP. This matter can be discussed at an earlier age if needed.
- Ask what you can do at home to help your child reach their educational goals.
- The completed IEP is a legal contract between you and the school district. You do not have the sign the report at the meeting, but can take it home to review. Remember that not signing or contacting the school within 10 days of the meeting does indicate agreement.
- Make sure that all pertinent information regarding specific supports or accommodations for your child that ar agreed to are written in the IEP document during the meeting
In Case of Disagreement during IEP Team Meeting or while reviewing IEP:
If you do not agree with the IEP determinations (any time during the IEP meeting or within 10 days of the meeting), you can:
- Request that the meeting be adjourned and reconvened at a later time
- Check the box on the IEP form that indicates your disagreement, but allow the IEP to be implemented
- File a signed, written dissenting report to attach to the IEP
- Check the box that indicates disagreement and request mediation (see Procedural Safeguards for more information)
- Check the box that indicates disagreement and request a due process hearing. You will then need to request the due process hearing in writing (see Procedural Safeguards for more information)
After the IEP Team Meeting:
- Keep all your child's paperwork together in a file in a safe place. This should include: IEPs, evaluation reviews, written evaluation reports, behavior plans, work samples, and extra-curricular activity accomplishments, as well as progress reports and report cards.
- Visit the school. Get to know your child's teachers, therapists, special education providers, paraprofessionals, and principal.
- Share unexpected information that may affect your child's behavior at school (sleep problems, illness, changes at home, etc.)
- Review progress reports that are sent home from school. Share your perception of your child's progress.
- If you have feedback and/or concerns, contact the staff immediately.
If you are experiencing a concern regarding your student's school program, please consider the following action steps:
- Talk to your child's teacher or case coordinator. Be specific about your concern. Give details (what, when and where, if possible) and talk about how it relates to your student's IEP. Between you and the teacher, write down what changes you have agreed to, if any, as well as who is going to make the change, and when the change will occur. If something very important changes, an amendment of the IEP can be arranged, or a new IEP can be issued. This is a simple process that can help things go more smoothly in the future.
- If you still have a problem after meeting with the teacher or case coordinator, please contact your building principal and/or your district's special education director. Again, give details about your concern, and work with these professionals to reach a solution. Always remember to write down any changes which have been agreed to. IEP team meetings can be scheduled at any time during the school year if there is a change that has to be made.
- If you have done all of these things and still have a concern, please consider contacting your local PAC (Parent Advisory Committee) representative. Your PAC representative can help you identify local resources to assist you with problem solving.