Individualized Education Plan (IEP)
Children with special needs face unique challenges every day at home and at school. Parents are tasked with making the best educational decisions for their child’s exceptionalities which can be complex and stressful, especially when it is unclear what services can be advocated for.
To deny a child with special needs individual services is a form of discrimination. Schools, staff, and families can develop an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for a student to provide them their right to a “free and appropriate public education” in the “least restrictive environment.”
What is an IEP?
An IEP is a written document that details the special education and related services a student with special needs will receive. An IEP is developed by the team, including the student’s parent(s), and it is a written document that states how the student would be educated in the school setting.
An IEP outlines the types of services the student will receive including the specifics of the frequency and duration of each. For example, a student may receive speech therapy for 30 minutes a week in a group setting of no more than 3-4 students. The IEP team develops measurable and specific goals in all areas of the student’s needs.
An IEP typically details the following student information:
- Educational performance
- Related services
IEP Qualification Process
Not every child who struggles in school automatically receives an IEP. In order to qualify for an IEP, a student must meet two specific criteria:
- Eligibility as defined by the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act
- That eligibility interferes with the child’s ability to access the curriculum
Parents who believe that their child needs special education services can initiate the process by writing a letter to the school stating their concerns about the educational progress and requesting a special education assessment. In California, the school must provide the parent with an assessment plan or a prior written notice explaining why the school is not going to assess within a 15-day period. Once a parent signs the assessment plan, the district has 60 days to complete the assessment(s) and hold an IEP meeting.
Assessment of your child includes standardized testing, observations, parent and teacher interviews, and a records review. A qualified assessor must conduct the evaluation.
If a student is found eligible for special education services, then the IEP team, including the parent, will draft goals and discuss related services and accommodations. If a parent disagrees with the district’s assessment, then the parent may request an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE).
IDEA outlines the rights that parents have in order to resolve common IEP disagreements between parents and schools including:
- The IEP team determines that the student is no longer eligible for special education services
- The school fails to implement the student’s placement outlined in an IEP
In these situations, it is best to consult an attorney who specializes in education law and can advocate for your child’s educational needs. With the help of an attorney, parents can take steps to initiate due process complaints with the school district as well as state-level complaints.
Here’s How We Can Help
The Law Offices of Jennifer Chang believe in protecting students’ rights to a free and appropriate education under both federal and state laws. If your child is eligible to receive special education and was not assessed appropriately, education rights attorney Jennifer Chang will fight vigorously on your child’s behalf. Her offices are located in California in Los Angeles, Buena Park, and San Jose.