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Guaranteeing Special Education Rights: Individualized Education Plans

Spirit Lake Consulting, Inc.
"Making life better!"

How do you know if you have a good IEP ?

(Information from the PACER center)

1. The IEP must be in writing. Parents should be given a copy.

Evelyn Klimpel, SLC Consultant, emphasizes the importance of getting agreements in writing.

evelyn"There was one time when I had a long discussion at the IEP meeting about my son's needs. Everyone was in agreement, the teacher, the physical therapist. Then, when it wasn't happening and I went to the school to complain, there was no one in sight to help me out. No one remembered those agreements and I had no proof that they had ever promised me those services for my son. After that, I learned my lesson. I don't leave that meeting until everthing I feel he needs is written down. If they say they'll add it later, then I tell them that I'll sign the IEP later. You only get to fool me once."

2. It must contain annual goals and short-term objectives for your child's progress in school with a timetable for reaching each objective.

3. It must be based on the needs of your child, as determined by a formal assessment conducted at least every three years.

4. The IEP should be developed by a team representing various viewpoints and areas of expertise. The team should involve school personnel who work with your child directly. If the IEP meeting involves a small group, the FOUR people who must be present are:

  • a regular classroom teacher,
  • the special education teacher,
  • the parent(s), and
  • a representative of the school district. If transition needs are being considered, (age 14 through 21), the student must be invited.

5. Parents must be invited to attend the staffing conferences, which are held at a time and place agreeable to both school and parents. Evelyn also emphasizes that parents can take the IEP home and bring it back later. She adds, "The school may not be happy if you do this. They may try to say that it would be inconvenient for them and they have gotten all these people together and all that and try to make you feel guilty about taking your time. For me, if I just feel I need to think about it for a while, maybe go home and discuss it with my son and my husband, then I tell them, 'Well, I just need a little more time. I don't feel comfortable signing it write now.' Parents need to know that. You don't have to sign the IEP right now. As an educator myself, I am happy if a parent is taking the IEP that seriously, even if it does mean for me coming back for another meeting. "

NEXT arrowNEXT: More on what makes a good IEP

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