All You Need to Know About the Individual Education Plan (IEP)
What is an Individual Education Plan (IEP) and how does it affect your child? Attorney at Brian R. Sciacca can answer this and more. Call now for information!
What Is an Individual Education Plan (IEP)?
Every child has a right to receive a quality education regardless of their disability status. Consequently, US laws encourage integrated learning approaches that allow children with special needs to attend school with their peers who do not have disabilities to the extent that their health permits.
However, children with disabilities may require certain accommodations or concessions to thrive and learn in an integrated environment. These accommodations and services are usually codified into an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for the child’s benefit.
As the name implies, an Individualized Education Plan consists of a written description of a child’s performance and development goals, as well as the services they receive to achieve those goals. This is an important part of the individualized education program for students with disabilities. It also indicates when the program will begin, how long it will last, and how its goals will be met.
The IEP is unique to each child and can be used as a strategy document to help children with disabilities. It shows you where they are in the learning journey and what the involved parties can do to ensure the child succeeds. As long as the IEP is utilized well, you’ll likely see an improvement in your child’s progress.
If you think that your child might benefit from an IEP, or you have any disputes with your child’s school about its implementation of their IEP, this guide might be of help. So keep reading to learn more about IEPs, requirements for eligibility, and how to get one for your child.
Individual Education Plan Laws in the US
Federal laws in the US regulate special education nationwide to ensure that government programs benefit the intended people.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was enacted to ensure that school districts across the United States follow the law and provide quality and unique education for children with disabilities to improve their learning, so IEPs must comply with the requirements of the law.
As per the Act, your child is entitled to the following:
Free Appropriate Public Education
Special needs children have free access to high-quality education in public schools as much as their disability permits.
Education in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)
Children with disabilities such as health impairments or learning disorders should learn with non-disabled children as much as possible. This interaction will improve their social skills and expose them to a variety of subjects and extracurricular and non-academic activities in school. Thus, the ideal LRE for each child should be considered while preparing the IEP.
Supplementary Aids and Services
Students with disabilities are entitled to special aids and services that will support their functional performance and make the special education process go smoothly. The appropriate supplementary aid for each student forms part of their IEP.
Students with special needs may also undergo periodic evaluation or assessment to ensure that the special education measures, IEPs, and related services are working and that the child’s learning is improving.
Who Makes the IEP?
It takes collaborative effort for the IEP process to succeed. Therefore the law requires that IEPs are made and approved by an IEP team comprising of the following:
The parents of the child with special needs
At least one regular education teacher of the child, if the child attends regular school
At least one special education teacher or special education provider of the child
A representative of the public education agency in the state who is qualified to provide or supervise the provision of special education services. The representative should also have knowledge of the general education curriculum and the resources available to the public agency to provide special education services.
An individual who is able to interpret the evaluation results and assess their implications on the instruction of the child
The child in question may also be a part of the IEP team where possible.
Components of an Individual Education Plan
IEPs contain specific details that summarize the child’s learning history, needs, and special education strategy. Generally, a comprehensive IEP should include the following:
A Summary of the Child’s Current Educational Performance
This is usually the first area of focus for IEP teams. The child’s present levels of performance can be discovered from the observations of teachers and other school personnel. Parental input may also be relevant here.
A Statement of Determinable Goals and Objectives That the IEP Should Achieve
The team also needs to develop specific and measurable goals that the child should achieve within specific periods or in the long term. These goals are usually classified as annual or transitional goals and depend on the child’s disability.
1. An Outline of the Child’s Specific Special Education Needs
This includes all the necessary accommodations the child might require to thrive in a regular classroom environment, such as assistive technology, a flexible timetable, or extra tutoring.
2. An Outline of Restricted Activities for the Child
As much as integrated learning is recommended for children with disabilities, they may be unable to participate in some activities with children without disabilities due to their status. The IEP should contain a list of activities the child cannot participate in for record purposes.
3. Estimated Dates for the IEP to Begin
The IEP should contain specific dates for implementing the plan generally and for specific portions of the plan where applicable.
IEPs: The Process of Getting One
If you feel your child requires an IEP to effectively learn, the first step is determining their IEP eligibility. You can write to the school, outlining your concerns, and request a formal evaluation for your child. If your child is found to be eligible, you and other IEP team members can create a unique IEP.
Taking part in IEP meetings is necessary to ensure your child receives a high-quality education. Give your input on ways to help your child with their education.
If there is a delay in the implementation of the IEP for any reason, you can request compensatory education for your child to make up for the services they lost.
How Can a Special Education Lawyer Help You?
As laudable as the IEP initiative is, the process is handled by human beings who can sometimes make mistakes that could negatively affect your child’s access to education.
For instance, the initial evaluation may have been conducted improperly, and the child may have been denied a chance to get an IEP based on the wrong assessment. It could also be that the implementation of your child’s IEP has been inexplicably delayed. In such cases, it is crucial to seek redress from a higher authority.
A special education lawyer can help mediate disputes on your behalf or file a complaint so your child can be re-evaluated. They can also request a due process hearing before an administrative judge to resolve all disputes quickly without interfering with your child’s education.
If you have further questions about resolving IEP disputes and getting the necessary educational support for your child, we can help at the law firm of Brian Sciacca, Attorney at Law. We understand your struggles as the parents or guardians of a special needs child and are committed to helping you resolve the legal challenges you might face.
We can represent you during hearings and help you apply for other supportive services, such as compensatory education and supplementary aids to improve your child’s education.
Contact us today. We’d be glad to represent you and fight for your child’s right to quality education.