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Working as a team to write an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for your child can be nerve racking. We are here to help. Below you will find information to empower you to advocate for your child in their school environment.
An Individualized Education Plan, or IEP, is a document that describes the special services your child will get to meet their educational needs. It is a legal contract between you and the school. IEPs can take a lot of time to develop, but it’s a great way for parents, service providers, and school staff to collaborate. An IEP is more than just a written legal document (or “plan”). It’s a map that lays out the program of special education instruction, supports, and services kids need to make progress and thrive in school. An IEP outlines all services that a child will receive outside of the regular education setting such as speech-language therapy services, occupational therapy services, physical therapy services, special education (academic) services, behavioral supports, etc. IEPs are covered by special education law or the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). They’re created for eligible kids who attend public school, which includes charter schools. Some private schools may also offer an ISP (Individual Services Plan) if they contract with services through their local public school district. If you’re interested in services and your child attends a private school, we suggest you contact your administrators at that school for more information.
There are many benefits for your child receiving services through an IEP. The process begins with an evaluation that shows a student’s strengths and challenges. The first step in the process is reviewing existing data and getting consent for an evaluation. This evaluation can usually be conducted per parent request, teacher request, or recommendation by the school. The evaluation could include a number of service providers conducting assessments depending on the area(s) of concern (speech, language, fine motor, academics, etc.). Families and schools use the results to create a program of services and supports tailored to meet the student’s needs. As a parent of a child receiving services through an IEP plan, you have legal rights that are outlined in the parent rights document through the OSDE website. Parents and guardians are vital members of an IEP team, and you have the right to contribute to the decisions that impact your child’s education. An IEP plan not only outlines services and goals, but it also may include accommodations within the classroom as well as a Behavior Intervention Plan if one is needed. This behavior plan outlines the schools’ process if/when a child’s behaviors impact their education and/or the education of other students. When the members of a child’s IEP team sit down together and consider how the child will be involved in and participate in school life, they must be sure that the resulting IEP contains the specific information required by IDEA, our nation’s special education law. Here’s a brief list of what IDEA requires:
With so much information in an IEP, it is easy to get confused. you can always ask questions to your IEP team before, during, and/or after these meetings. Don’t be afraid to ask for more information or an explanation, if needed.
IEP meetings can be stressful, knowing what happens and what to expect in IEP meetings can make it easier to navigate them. At an IEP meeting, the entire IEP team will be there. Your team may consist of special education teachers or providers, regular education teachers, a representative of the school system, an individual who can interpret the evaluation results, and YOU. The student is also invited to the meeting typically at the middle school and/or high school level. Here is a brief breakdown of what to expect and/or what might happen in an IEP meeting:
Parents often ask us questions or express concerns about their child’s IEP. The first place to start is knowing your rights as a parent. Take time to review and read your parent’s rights provided to you at the beginning of an IEP meeting. You can also find them on the OSDE website. During the IEP meeting, you should feel welcome to ask questions and express concerns to the team just like any other IEP team member. You can also request that the team note your questions and concerns on the IEP document. Another helpful tip is to document your communication with schools through email.
An IEP is good for one calendar year, which means that they usually carry over into the next school year. The IEP journey continues well after your child’s plan is put into place. After the initial IEP meeting, you will continue to be a member of the IEP team and will play a key role in making sure the plan is working and your child is making progress. Like any other IEP team member, you have the right to request an IEP meeting at any time. The IEP team is required to meet annually to develop a subsequent/annual IEP, and they are required to discuss eligibility (MEEGS) every three years. Your child’s IEP will change over time depending on their needs. If your child continues to receive services as they get older, you will also be involved in creating a plan for transitioning out of this IEP toward the end of high school. Regardless of age, you will continue to be your child’s number one advocate and an important part of the IEP team.
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6905 NW 122nd St.
Oklahoma City, OK 73142
P. 405. 603. 6622
F. 405. 722. 3244
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