Individualized Education Program (IEP)
All children receiving special education services must have an Individualized Education Program (IEP). The IEP is a legal document that describes the child’s needs and the services to be provided by the school district that will best meet those needs. The IEP is an educational plan that:
Describes the child’s skills and areas of need.
dentifies educational goals to focus on during the year.
Lists the services to be provided to the student.
Determines the most appropriate educational placement.
The referral process typically begins with a discussion between a teacher and the student's parent or guardian. This may include an instructional study 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
A student experiences educational difficulty may be brought to the attention of the school site's Instructional Study 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 meet 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 a Consent for Assessment form, indicating assessments to be completed in areas of concern. Once signed and returned by the parent, a case manager ensures that an evaluation is conducted in a timely manner. An 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 feel their child is having problems learning in school and suspect a disability should bring their concern to the attention of the child's teacher or principal.
IEP Meeting & Eligibility
Within 50 days of receiving a parental consent for assessment, an IEP meeting is convened to share results of the evaluation. The IEP team must include all of the following:
- Parent(s): The student's parent(s), legal guardian, parent surrogate or parent designee. 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.
Assessor: Any district staff member who conducted an assessment or evaluation of the student.
Student: When appropriate, students, age 14 and older, must be invited to all IEP meetings when transition services are discussed.
Others: Individuals with knowledge or expertise regarding the student may include a case manager, interpreter, agency representatives or individuals invited by the 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, he/she is found eligible for special education.
Once an IEP is established, the student begins to participate in the designated programs or services 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.