One of the most important parts of the special education process is to create an educational plan for a student. That plan is called the Individual Education Program (IEP). The IEP is a written plan of the educational program designed to accomplish the individual needs of the student. Each student who receives special education services should have an IEP.
Your child's IEP should establish reasonable educational goals for your child, and provide detail about the services that the school district should offer for your child. For this reason, it is a very important document in your child's education — and you have the right to participate as a member of the team that develops it. The law is very clear regarding this right. In fact, the parents' contributions are invaluable. You know your child better than anyone, and the school needs to hear your insights and concerns.
The IEP is developed in a meeting with the members of the IEP team. It is important that you go to this meeting and share your ideas about your child's needs and potential. Afterwards, the school should implement the IEP as it was written.
When will the IEP meeting take place? It depends. There are different reasons that IEP meetings are held. A meeting should be scheduled with you at least once a year, to review your child's progress and to develop the next IEP of your child. A meeting should also be scheduled when:
- the plan is developed for the first time
- there is concern about the services your child is receiving
- it's necessary to review your child's progress
- there is a behavioral problem
- your child's placement is changing
- it's time to discuss the transition to adulthood
You can solicit this meeting when you feel it is necessary, and it's very important that you then attend as well.
You can learn more about the development, content, and revision of the IEP, and the importance of parent participation from the following websites:
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the federal law that authorizes special education for children with disabilities in the United States. The law was amended in 2004. To read more about IDEA, take a look at the following websites: