What is an IEP?
An Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) is a plan or program developed to ensure that a child who has a disability identified under the law and is attending an elementary or secondary school receives specialized instruction and related services. An IEP is a legal document that is reviewed at least annually by the IEP team. An IEP includes the following sections:
Present levels of a child’s performance
Goals and objectives (typically 1-2 goals for each area of service)
Assessment decisions and accommodations
Behavior intervention plan (if applicable)
Educational services and placement for each school year (including minutes of service provided by related service providers such as speech and social work)
Additional notes (includes key minutes from the IEP meeting)
Conference recommendations (summary of decisions made at the meeting)
Please note, an IEP may include additional pages as relevant to a child, or if a child is undergoing an evaluation.
How does my child become eligible for an IEP?
Children can become qualified for services via an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) through a variety of avenues including the following:
- Child Find: It is the legal responsibility of the District to seek out pre-school aged children in the community who may need early intervention support. With parental consent, the child is then evaluated by BPS101 staff.
- MTSS: If a child is having difficulty in school, school staff will contact parents an initiate interventions as outlined (link to MTSS here). If a child needs more support, an evaluation may be recommended. With parental consent, the child would then be evaluated by BPS101 staff.
- Parent Request: If parents have concerns about their child in the school environment, they may request that the District staff complete an evaluation. The school staff will consider the request and either agree to or decline the request. Parents will be notified in writing of the District’s decision regarding requests for evaluation within 14 school days. A parent may request an evaluation by contacting the Building Principal or School Psychologist.
- Outside Evaluation: If parents have a child evaluated outside of the District, they may choose to share the information with the school staff. If parents request consideration for an IEP based on an outside evaluation, the school staff will meet to review the information and consider the request. The team can decide one of the following: 1) agree to create an IEP based on the outside evaluation information; 2) convene a meeting to discuss an internal evaluation for additional data that may be needed; or 3) decline the request to create an IEP based on the outside evaluation.
If a child is being considered for special education services, he or she must first qualify for support under one of the 13 IL categories of eligibility. To determine whether a child is eligible or not, with parental consent, school staff will consider the need to complete a variety of assessments in any or all of the following domains: academic achievement, functional performance, cognitive functioning, communication status, health, hearing/vision, motor abilities, and social emotional status. Staff will use a variety of assessments within each domain, the specifics of which will be discussed at a “domains” meeting with parents. No evaluations on children will be completed without signed consent from parents. School staff have 60 school days to complete the evaluation once consent is signed and will meet with parents to share the results.
Students with an existing IEP will be considered for a reevaluation every three years by law. The process for reevaluations is the same as explained above.
What happens when my child gets an IEP?
If your child is found eligible for services under an IEP, the team will meet to discuss goals and services. The child’s IEP will go into effect immediately following the IEP meeting unless there are fewer than 10 days left in the school year. If there are fewer than 10 days left, the IEP will go into effect on the first day of school in the following year.
Each child with an IEP will have an annual review to discuss the current goals, establish new goals, and determine services for the coming year. IEP “years” run on the annual calendar not the school year calendar (e.g., if a child becomes eligible for an IEP in December, his or her annual review would be the following December).
Children will receive the services as outlined by the IEP for the duration of the IEP unless the IEP team meets to amend services. School staff will provide updates on progress toward identified goals at each marking period.
Who is on the IEP team?
By law, a special education teacher, a general education teacher, and parents are a part of the IEP team. Other providers may also join the team such as speech language pathologists, social workers, etc. Any person providing educational services or supports to the student may be a part of the IEP team. The Local Education Authority (LEA) is the IEP team leader and will typically facilitate meetings and make final recommendations for decisions discussed by the team. In BPS101, the LEA can be a school administrator, a special education administrator, a school psychologist, a special education teacher or a speech language pathologist.
What is my role as a parent?
Parents are equal members of the IEP team. Parents should be active participants, including asking for clarification on items that may be confusing or at odds with parental understanding. The team will make decisions within the best interests of the child and understanding all perspectives is critical in that process. Parents should read information that is sent home in advance of IEP meetings and be prepared to discuss goals and services. Parents may also request to convene a meeting of the IEP team at any point.
What happens at an IEP meeting?
Parents will be notified more than 10 days before a scheduled IEP meeting. District staff make every effort to convene meetings at convenient times for parents, however meetings will most often be held during teachers’ contractual hours. If 10-day notice is not possible, parents will be asked to sign a waiver during the meeting. Parents will also be provided with an agenda for the meeting.
To begin the meeting, the facilitator (the LEA or the child’s case manager) will begin with introductions. Parents will then be provided with copies of their parental rights, District policies and other paperwork as appropriate. All meeting attendees will be asked to sign in. A note-taker will take notes throughout the meeting which will become a part of the child’s IEP.
The meeting will begin with a discussion of the child’s present levels of performance including strengths and areas of development. Parents are asked to provide input into these areas as well as bring up any additional concerns. The team will then discuss progress toward current goals and/or establish new goals, review educational services, accommodations, assessment and any other relevant points. The team will also discuss placement recommendations for a child at annual reviews and evaluation meetings.
At the end of the meeting, parents will be provided with a copy of the child’s IEP. This may take 10-15 minutes to get updated paperwork based on any changes discussed at the meeting so parents may opt to receive the paperwork later on that day via their child’s backpack or electronically.
When do parents have to sign for portions of an IEP?
There are a number of times parents will be asked to sign something within the IEP process.
- To consent for any evaluation
- To consent for initial services if the child is found eligible
- To waive 10-day notice for a meeting (initial)
- To indicate receipt of parental rights and District policies (initial)
- To indicate presence at an IEP meeting
- To waive 10-day waiting period for a change in placement
Once a child has an IEP, will he/she always have one?
No, a child can transition out of services at any point. Some children will maintain IEPs throughout their education. Others will make progress such that their disability no longer impacts their academic functioning and they will therefore no longer need services under an IEP. Removal of services is always discussed with parents and staff members typically complete an assessment (with parental consent) to show levels of functioning before discontinuing support.
What if a parent disagrees with something during the IEP process?
Educators and parents are all passionate about decisions regarding students. The goal of the IEP team is to consider all points of view and come to a decision that is in the best interest of the student. If the team members disagree, the ultimate decision rests with the Local Education Authority (LEA). If parents disagree with final decisions regarding services, placement, etc. they can avail themselves of their parental rights as set forth by the state (Parent Rights).