What Is an IEP?

One of the most important parts of the special education process is to create an educational plan for a student. Learn more about this plan and the parent's important role in the process.

What is an IEP?

The "IEP" (or "individualized education program") is a process and a document.

If an assessment says your child needs special education, you will have an IEP meeting at least once a year. You and the rest of the IEP team will write an IEP document that says what your child needs and what services will meet those needs. It should say:

  • What level your child is at in school
  • What the long- and short-term goals are for your child
  • What special education and related services your child needs
  • How much your child can be with children who aren't disabled
  • When services should start

Who makes the IEP?

You should be a big part of this process. You must be part of the IEP team. The people on the IEP team are:

  • The child's parents;
  • At least 1 regular education teacher, if the child can be in a regular classroom
  • At least 1 special education teacher
  • Someone from the local education agency (LEA)
  • Someone who can read the assessment and say what it means for the child's schooling
  • If the parents or the LEA wants, other people who know about the child
  • The child (if it's appropriate)

How will I find out about the IEP meeting?

The LEA must tell you about any IEP meeting ahead of time. You have to agree to the time and place.

After the IEP meeting, how long will it take for my child to get help?

At the meeting, they will ask you if you agree to the IEP written for your child. If you want more time, ask them to continue the meeting to a later date. After you give permission in writing, the IEP has to start as soon as possible.

NOTE: If you don't agree to the IEP, your child won't get special education services.

How often will my child's IEP be reviewed?

There will be an IEP meeting every year. But if there are problems with the IEP, or your child has new problems, you can ask for a review at any time. This is called an "IEP addendum meeting." After the LEA gets your letter asking for a review, you will have a meeting within 30 days.

This article is reprinted with permission from the Administrative Office of the California Courts. Retrieved from http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/selfhelp/family/speced/iepbasics.htm.


For any reprint requests, please contact the author or publisher listed.

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