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Information on IEP's

GETTING COPIES OF ASSESSMENTS BEFORE THE IEP MEETING
By law, school districts must provide copies of assessments and other educational records before an IEP meeting. [34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.562] You can request that they give you copies. You should make such requests in writing. Most districts will accommodate parents if they make a request within a reasonable time. However, there are no specific time lines in federal or state law to tell school districts how many days before the IEP meeting they must provide assessments to the parents.

HOWEVER, if they try and delay you, just inform them that you will have to reschedule the IEP to a time where you have advance access to the reports.

This does not apply to educational records. There is a time line of 5 days for records to be produced.

NOTICE OF THE IEP MEETING AND WHAT HAPPENS IF I CAN'T ATTEND

The school district MUST take steps to ensure that one or both of the parents of the student with disabilities attend the IEP meeting or have the opportunity to particupate. This means notifying you far enough in advance, providing notice in your language, scheduling or rescheduling the IEP at a mutually agreed upon time and place, or allowing you to participate by conference call. Only if it has taken and documented adequate steps can the school district proceed without your participation. [34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.345]

PARTICIPANTS OF THE IEP TEAM MEETING

The school district should ensure that the folowing people attend the IEP meeting:

1. An educational agency representative (other than the teacher). This person must know about special education programs and be qualified to provide or supervise special education services. This person must also have the authority to approve funding for special education and related services without having to seek permission from others within the school district. [34 C.F.R. Part 300, App. C, No. 13]

2. Your child's teacher. If your child has a suspected learning disability, the IEP team must also include one other person who has observed your child in an appropriate setting (such as a classroom or preschool).

3. You, as parent(s). (Remember, the district must provide you with notice and schedule the meeting at a mutually agreed upon time and place).

4. Your child, where appropriate.

5. People who conducted any assessments or a person who is qualified to interpret and explain the assessment results. [34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.344 and Part 300, App. C, Nos 13-28]

The school district must also notify the parent(s) in writing regarding who will attend the IEP Team meeting. [34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.345(b) and Part 300, App. C, No 28]
BRINGING AN ADVOCATE OR ATTORNEY TO AN IEP MEETING

Parents can bring whoever they want to the meeting - including an advocate, friend, regional center or other caseworker or attorney.

Any decision that is made with regard to an IEP must be made with the informed consent of the parent(s). An advocate or case manager should assist in theis process by fully explaining to parents the actions or consequences that are being discussed or contemplated. With the consent of the parent(s), the advocate/case manager/attorney can actively advocate for the rights of the child.

CONTRIBUTING TO THE IEP PROCESS

The parents of a student with disabilities are expected to be EQUAL PARTICIPANTS, along with school personnel, in developing, reviewing, and
revising the student's IEP. [34 C.F.R. Part 300, App. C, No. 26]

You can contribute to the IEP process by bringing to the IEP meeting a written summary describing your child's needs as you see them. this summary should include these areas:

1. Strengths (for example, outgoing, open, optimistic, articulate, imaginative);

2. Weaknesses/Problem areas (for example, poor self-concept, academic deficits, fighting, disorganizaion, takes longer than average to complete assignments, discouraged easily);

3. Functioning levels (for example, difficulty with reading, math or spelling, responds to individual attention, needs verbal reinforcement for presented material); and

4. What the child needs to learn (for example, more positive self-concept, proficiency at grade level in academic areas, age-appropriate social skills, self help skills, job training, needs to be better organized, work at a more rapid pace).

The written format should help you organize your ideas. Then you can help school personnel in identifying goal areas for your child, and in writing a full discription of your child's educational needs.

You also can contribute by bringing others who know your child to support you, by being assertive at the IEP meeting, and by knowing your rights under the law.

INTERPRETERS AT THE IEP MEETING

If you need a language or sign interpreter to participate at the IEP meeting, one must be provided at no expense to you, the parent. [34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.345]

HOW AN IEP MEETING OPERATE

You and the school district should develop your child's IEP as a partnership. Both parent and school district share the final decisions that are made about your child's program. Ideally, the IEP meeting should follow this process:

Step 1. READING OF YOUR PARENTAL RIGHTS

Step 2. Description of your child's disabilities and/or diagnosis if known.

Step 3. Discussion and description of your child's current level of functioning (includes academic and non-academic functioning).

Step 4. Development of annual goals and short-term objectives that are derived from your child's current functioning.

Step 5. Discussion and description of the support services required by your child. (Related services, designated instruction and services.)

Step 6. Discussion and description of the special education and related services, including placement recommendation and significant details of placement (for example, class size, intergration and mainstreaming opportunities) that make up your child's appropriate educational program.


All members of the IEP team should attend andparticipate in the team meeting. An IEP team member should NOT sign the IEP before the team meeting.

Your school district is required to have a prodedure in place for reaching agreement in an IEP meeting. You should ask your school district for a copy of its procedure if you have any questions about your school's IEP process.

WHAT SHOULD BE WRITTEN IN THE IEP
Under federal law, the Individualized Education Program for each student with disabilities must include:
(1) The student's present levels of educational performance.

(2) The statement of annual goals and measurable objectives designed to achieve those goals.

(3) The specific special education services to be provided (including, for example, physical education, vocational education, extended school year, instruction in academic or perceptual areas, teacher qualifications, class size, etc.)

(4) The specific related services to be provided including the amount of time for each service (for example, occupational therapy twice a week for 45 minutes).

(5) The extent to which the student will be able to participate in the regular education program (for examply, full inclusion in a regular kindergarted 100% of the time with a full-time instructional aide, integration for lunch, art class daily, science or social studies class, extracurricular activities, etc).

(6) The projected date for initiation and the anticipated duration of the programs and services included in the IEP.

(7) Appropriate objective criteria, evaluation procedures and schedules for determining, at least annyually, whether the measurable objectives contained in the IEP are being achieved.

(8) For students in kindergarten and grades 1 to 6, the IEP must also contain prevocational career education.

(9) For students in grades 7 to 12, the IEP must also list any differential standards which will be used to enable them to graduate, and vocational education, career education, or work experience education, in preparation for remunerative employment, including independent living skill training.

(10) For students whose primary language is other than English, the IEP must include linguistically appropriate goals, objectives, programs and services.

(11) Extended school year services, when needed.

(12) For students 16 years of age or older, the IE must state the transition services they need. Transition services are "a coordinated set of activities for a stucent. . . . which promotes movement from school to post-school activities... The activities shall include instruction, community experiences, the development of employment and other post-school living objectives, and, when appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and functional vocational evaluation."

(13) A description of the type of placement needed to implement the IEP in the least restrictive environment. The school district must ensure taht a continuum of alternative placements is availible, including instruction in regular classes (with an aide or other adaptations if necessary), special classes, non-public nonsectarian schools, state special schools, residential placement, home instruction, and instruction in hospitals and institutions.

[34 C.F.R. Secs. 300.346,553]

PRESENTING THE PRESENT LEVELS OF THE CHILD'S EDUCATIONAL
PERFORMANCE AND DESCRIBING IT IN THE IEP

The present levels of educational performance should reflect your child's unique needs in any area of education affected by your child's disability, including adacemic areas (reading, math, communication, etc.), non-academic areas (daily life activities, mobility, social/emotional/ behavioral issues, etc.), and perceptual functioning (auditory or visual processing, motor abilities, concentration problems).

The IEP team should try to describe your child's performance in objective, measurable terms. Information from you and your child's teacher(s) may be used. The team may use test scores and other information from your child's assessments, but any such information used should be easily understandable to you and all other members of the team.

[34 C.F.R. Part 300, App. C, No. 36]

ANNUAL GOALS AND SHORT-TERM INSTRUCTIONAL OBJECTIVES

Annual goals and short-term instructional objectives allow you to track your child's progress in school and help yo determine if your child's educational program is appropriate. [34 C.F.R. Part 300, App. C, No. 37]

Most importantly, the goals and objectives define what kind of special education program and related services the school district must provide. The school district must provide the programs and services necessary to meet the goals and objectives in your child's IEP. If your child needs a particular kind of special education program or service, the school district is not required to provide it UNLESS it is NECESSARY to meet an IEP goal or objective. [34 C.F.R. Part 300, App. C, Nos. 39,41]

SERVICES AND CONTENTS OF THE IEP

According to the federal regulations each public agency must provide a free appropriate public education to all children with disabilities under its jurisdiction. Therefore, the IEP for a child with a disability MUST include all of the specific special education and related services needed by the child - as determined by the child's current evaluation (which may include parental input as well as district and independent evaluations). This means that the services must be listed in the IEP even if they are not directly available from the local agency, and MUST be provided by the agency through contract or other arrangements.

The IEP MUST set out the amount of services to be provided, so that the level of the agency's commitment of resources will clear to parents and other IEP team members. The amount of time to be committed to each of the various services to be provided must be:

appropriate to that specific service, and

stated in the IEP in a manner that is clear to all who are involved in both the development and implementation of the IEP.


Changes in the amount of services listed in the IEP cannot be made without holding another IEP meeting. However, as long as there is no change in the overall amount, some adjustments in scheduling the services should be possible (based on the professional judgment of the service provider) without holding another IEP meeting.
(NOTE: Parents are to be notified whenever this occurs.)
[34 C.F.R. Part 300, App. C, Nos 44,51]

LENGTH OR FORMAT FOR AN IEP

The school district may determine the length and format of an IEP, so long as it contains all of the elements described above. [34 C.F.R. Part 300, App. C, No 56]

MODIFICATIONS IN THE REGULAR ED CLASSROOM

Students who are able to participate in regular programming classes may require modifications, supplementary aids or services, within that regular class in order to learn. Such modifications may include the use of a tape recorder, oral testing, special seating, etc. Such modifications must be specifically written into your child's IEP.
[34 C.F.R. Part 300, App. C, No. 48]

CLASS SIZE LIMITS

Federal and state law and policy state that special education means "specially designed instruction... to meet the unique needs of a child with disabilities..." one of those unique needs may be a limit on special education class size. A school district may disagree with a parent on the need for a class size limit. The district may believe that class size is not a critical element in an appropriate program for a student. However, a school district may not categorically refuse to add class size to an IEP as a matter of policy. Such a policy would not allow the IEP team to develop an IEP based on the unique needs of the student. You may wish to consider filing a compliance complaint if your school district has such a policy.
[34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.17]

APPROVING AN IEP AT THE IEP MEETING

You have the right to take your IEP home to review it before you sign. Your child remains eligible for special education and stays in his current placement while you decide whether to consent. If you do not consent or file for a fair hearing in a reasonable period of time, then the LEA (Local Educational Agency) may file for a fair hearing.


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