Before your child receives any special education services, a written Individualized Education Program (IEP) must be developed and signed by you. You have the right, and are encouraged, to present information during the IEP team meeting for use in developing an appropriate IEP for your child. You are encouraged to request, in writing, the assessment results, blank IEP forms to familiarize yourself with, and other information pertinent to the IEP, before the IEP team meeting. For assessment results, it is a good idea to give ten (10) days notice for your request. Remember, you may bring a Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC) representative or other support person to this meeting.
A number of items make up the IEP. They include:
- The student's strengths and areas of concern
- Statements of the student's present level of educational performance
- Statements of yearly goals and short-term educational objectives
- Those individuals responsible for helping to accomplish the goals
- Criteria and evaluation procedures for measuring the achievement of the educational objectives
- A statement of the specific special education programs and related services needed by the student
- The degree of participation anticipated in the general education program
- Projected dates for beginning services and how long the services should continue
- Determination of participation in state and district-wide assessments
- A system to measure and report progress for the student
The parent(s) and guardian(s) will be asked to give written consent (approval) of the newly developed individualized education program at the IEP meeting. If you feel you need time to review the document before signing, you may take a reasonable amount of time to do so. However, parent(s) or guardian(s) must give permission before a change in educational placement or program of the student is implemented, if the document is not signed, changes may not take place.
The student's program is a cooperative effort among the school, home, and student. Communication between home and school should be continued after the IEP team meetings take place. Requests for informal conferences with the student's teachers, classroom, visits, notes or phone calls are all ways of learning about the child's program and performance. Another important way of finding out about program and performance is through talking with your child.
If there is a concern regarding your child, it is the team's right and responsibility to request and IEP team meeting or review more frequently than annually.
If your child does not qualify for special education services, he or she may still be eligible for services under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.