IEP Questions and Answers

Understanding the IEP in the Special Education Process
Understanding the IEP in the Special Education Process

When parents learn that their child has been found eligible for special education services, it’s only natural that they have many questions. The world of special education can be overwhelming for parents.  The IEP process, new vocabulary, timelines, rules and meetings are ALL unfamiliar and can make a parent feel useless in the process.  However, parents are a very important part of the process because YOU know your child the best.

Two areas to learn about in the special education process is vocabulary and the Individualized Education Plan (IEP).  In this post we will review the IEP and in the next post we’ll review special education vocabulary.   

  • What happens if my child is NOT eligible for services? If the group decides that your child is not eligible for special education services, you should receive this in writing along with an explanation of why your child has been found “not eligible”. You will also be given information on steps to take if you are not in agreement with the decision.
  • What do I do if my child is not eligible for special education services but still needs additional support? K-12 schools are required to provide additional supports to regular education students through a process called Response to Intervention.  See your child’s teacher and/or principal about services that may be offered to support your child’s success.
  • What is the next step if my child is eligible for special education? The next step is to write what is known as an Individualized Education Plan (IEP).  After a child is found eligible, a meeting must be held within 30 days to develop the IEP.
  • What is an Individualized Education Plan (IEP)? An IEP is a written statement of the education program designed to meet a child’s needs.  It has two purposes: To state the services that the school district will provide for your child and to set reasonable goals for your child,
  • How do I prepare for the IEP meeting? Start by making a list of your child’s strength and weaknesses.  If your child is already receiving services, reach out and ask the specialists for their input.  Find out what services they think are necessary.  Keep a notebook jot down notes of things you would like to say at the meeting.  This notebook can be used for the notes you take at all your meetings.  
  • What happens during an IEP meeting? You will be part of a group of professionals that will discuss your child’s strengths and weaknesses prepared to work with a group of people to develop the IEP.  Your child’s evaluation results will be discussed (if this is an evaluation year).  Strengths and weaknesses will be noted, and team members will make suggestions for program placement, goals and services needed. Don’t be shy about speaking up, even though there may be a lot of other people at the meeting. Share what you know about your child and what you wish others to know. (Good time to use your notebook). After everyone has shared their thoughts and concerns, the team will decide on the type of special education series your child needs.  This will include the type of setting, goals and randy related services that your child will need.
  • Will my child be re-evaluated? Yes. Under the IDEA, your child must be re-evaluated at least every three years. The purpose of this re-evaluation is to find out if your child continues to be a “child with a disability,” as defined within the law, along with your child’s educational needs. Although the law requires that children with disabilities be re-evaluated at least every three years, your child may be re-evaluated more often if you or your child’s teacher(s) request it.
  • Will I receive a copy of my child’s evaluation report and a determination about your child’s eligibility? Yes, you will get a copy of your child’s evaluation report prior to the CSE meeting.  You will also get a copy of the IEP after your CSE meeting either the day of the meeting or by mail.

Remember, as your child’s parent, YOU are an equal member of the process.  More importantly YOU have the final say in your child’s IEP.  Catch your breath, take notes and ask questions. You’ve got this! Next post is Special Education Vocabulary.