Individualized Educational Plan (IEP)
All children receiving special education services must have an Individualized Education Program (IEP). The IEP is a legal document, developed by the IEP team that describes the child’s needs and how the district will provide special education services that will meet those needs.
If the IEP team – the participants in the IEP meeting – determines that a child meets eligibility criteria for one of the disabilities described in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and requires special education services, the team develops an Individualized Education Program.
The IEP is considered an educational plan that:
Describes the child’s skills and areas of need.
Outlines the plan of specially-designated instruction to address those skills and maximize skills.
Identifies educational goals to focus on during the year.
Lists the services to be provided to the student.
Identifies the appropriate educational placement.
The referral process typically begins with a discussion between a teacher and the student’s parent or guardian. This may include a Student Success Team meeting which may result in a referral for special education.
Once developed, the IEP is reviewed each year, and may be reviewed more often if parents or teachers request it. The student’s IEP must be accessible to all staff responsible for its implementation, including general education teachers, special education teachers and related service providers. Teachers and providers are to be informed of their specific responsibilities in implementing the child’s IEP, including specific accommodations, modifications and supports.
Referrals & Evaluations
When a student experiences educational difficulty, s/he may be brought to the attention of the school site’s Student Success Team composed of school staff and other professionals knowledgeable about the student. The parent/guardian is invited to attend this meeting, where concerns about the student’s progress are reviewed and modifications/accommodations are identified for implementation in the classroom. If, after a time period, limited or no progress is noted, the student may be referred for Special Education. Concerned parents are encouraged to conference with the teacher and may also refer their child for Special Education.
Once a child has been referred, the parent receives a packet of materials including an Assessment Plan Consent form, indicating assessments to be completed in areas of concern. When the parent signs and returns it, the case manager ensures that an evaluation is conducted in a timely manner. The evaluation typically includes a review of school records and other developmental or medical reports, observation of the student at school, portfolios, and completion of formal and/or informal evaluation tools.
Parents who fear their child is having problems learning in school and suspect they have a disability should bring their concern to the attention of the child’s teacher or principal.
IEP Meeting & Eligibility
Within 60 days of receiving parental consent for assessment, an IEP meeting is convened to share results of the evaluation. The IEP team must include all of the following:
The student's parent(s), legal guardian(s), parent surrogate(s) or parent designee(s). Parents may appoint a designate. The parent must sign the IEP before implementation.
Special Education Teacher
At least one special education teacher, or when appropriate, special education service providers.
District Administrator (or Designee)
A representative from the district, who is knowledgeable about program options and availability, curriculum; qualified to supervise provision of special education services, and able to commit the district’s resources. Generally, this is the site administrator or principal, vice-principal or a designee.
General Education Teacher
If the student participates in, or is expected to participate in a general education class, a general education teacher, knowledgeable about the curriculum at the student’s grade level, attends the IEP meetings.
Any district staff member who conducted an assessment or evaluation of the student that is used to determine the student’s strengths and areas of needs. May be an educator already included.
When appropriate, students, aged 14 and older, will be invited to all IEP meetings.
Individuals with knowledge or expertise regarding the student, may include case manager, interpreter, agency representatives or individuals invited by parent or district.
If a student meets the eligibility criteria of any of the 13 disability areas (as defined by the federal and state regulations), and is in need of special education in order to benefit from the educational program, s/he is found eligible for special education.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act has identified and defined the 13 categories of disabilities. They are:
Other Health Impairment
Specific Learning Disability
Speech or Language Impairment
Traumatic Brain Injury
Visual Impairment (including Blindness)
Options for Eligible Students
A continuum of program options for eligible students include programs and services in a variety of educational environments ranging from least to most restrictive.
General education with Designated Instructional (DIS) Services
General education with Resource Specialist (RSP) Services
Designated instructional and other services (such as language, speech and adapted physical education)
Special day class programs
Alternative school settings
The district offers special education and services in accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities education Act (IDEA), Part B of this act describes the process by which Individuals between the ages of three to 21 years are determined to be eligible for special education services. This is a process that typically begins with a discussion with a teacher or teachers. Subsequent steps may include:
Meeting with the school’s Student Success Team
Determination of eligibility
When appropriate, students aged 14 and older will be invited to all IEP meetings.
In developing an IEP, all program options are considered, and the program(s) and/or service(s) considered appropriate to meet the student’s needs in the least restrictive environment are offered.
Options within the district include:
Designated instruction and service (e.g., speech therapy, adapted physical education, counseling)
General education with support of a special educator (e.g., Resource Specialist)
Special day class
If a student is determined eligible, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) is developed, and appropriate programs and services are identified.
Once the decision has been made and the IEP signed, the student begins to participate in the program or service as soon as it is reasonable to do so.
An IEP team may be convened when a student with special needs has a serious discipline issue. Students with special needs are not exempt from the district’s Student Discipline Policies.
Occasionally there is a disagreement about the IEP process. If this occurs, parents are encouraged to communicate their concern immediately to the case manager or principal. IDEA requires that parents be informed of their due process rights and expects parents and school districts to make every attempt to resolve any disagreement at the district level. If that is not feasible, upon request, Empire Union School District staff can assist parents in exercising their procedural safeguards.
Individualized Education Programs Briefing Paper
Source: National Dissemination Center for Children With Disabilities, September, 1999
National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities
National clearinghouse for information on:
Disabilities in infants, toddlers, children, and youth
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1997
No Child Left Behind (as it relates to children with disabilities)
Research-based information on effective educational practices