Attending an individualized education program meeting for your child can be overwhelming and complex. There may be many members on an IEP team, including you, the parent, as well as the child’s teachers, evaluators, and school administrators. When appropriate, the child may also be involved in the IEP meeting, as may other caregivers or school employees.
An individualized education plan should be developed within 30 days of determination that the child is eligible.* This IEP will determine all aspects of your child’s education, including the services he or she will receive, your goals for your child, and your child’s needs. An IEP also details the extent of any services, how they will be facilitated (such as in the classroom environment, or as a separate therapy), and the regularity of those services (attending speech therapy twice a week, for example). As detailed in Dr. Vincent Culotta’s book, School Success for Kids with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, there are 10 parts of an IEP:
- Identifying information.
- Present levels of academic achievement.
- Placement in the least-restrictive environment.
- Related services for the child to benefit from the plan.
- Extended school year.
- Special factors.
- Transition services.
- Accommodations, modifications, and supplementary aides.
- Standard or alternate curriculum or outcomes.
- Measurable, attainable yearly goals.
After the initial IEP meeting to set-up your child’s plan, you will continue to have IEP meetings at least annually. Remember that you can always request to schedule additional IEP meetings. This is your time to discuss your child’s progress and strengths, as well as your concerns. Your child should be re-evaluated every three years, and these re-evaluations will also become part of the conversation and planning. The IEP should evolve and grow with your child.
IEP meetings should always reflect your child as an individual. You know your child best. Don’t hesitate to speak up or ask questions of your team. If you disagree with any part of the IEP, you are within your rights to disagree and suggest changes. You provide the final consent for your child’s IEP. Feel free to ask for a copy of your rights, if necessary. A neurobehavioral specialist is always available to offer insight and guidance on the IEP process.
*Davis, M. R., Culotta, V., Ph.D, Levine, E., Ed.D, & Hess Rice, E., Ed.D. (2011). School Success for Kids with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders. Prufrock Press.