The IEP (504) Process is daunting to parents who have no experience with it. In fact, most parents will have never heard of the IEP prior to their first meeting with their child’s teacher. The angst in the voices of parents is palpable.
As you know, we help parents and educators understand the IEP (504) Process from beginning to end almost on a daily basis. We know that overwhelmed, exhausted, bewildered and just “out of ideas” is where most parents are when they get to us. So we’d like to make things easy and give you an idea as to the entire IEP process from beginning to end. (Now, every case is a little bit different, so call us if you have specific questions).
The Parent’s First Steps
What we find most often is parents are a long way down the road with their kids before they’ve begun to research the IEP requirements. Between the time a teacher identifies a problem and when the parent starts researching the IEP, they will have tried just about everything else first.
Does this describe you? Have you already tried taking away TV and iPod’s so your kids can study? How about getting some after school tutoring for your child, getting extra help in class, or doing extra work at home? While this is necessary, it seems parents have to prove to themselves that a learning disability is the only reason remaining that the student could be doing poorly. While this “trial” period ends up wasting some time – what smart parent wouldn’t go to the ends of the earth first?
Finally, the IEP Process Begins
Once the parents have exhausted these normal means of trying to help their child – the research begins. “Does my child have a learning disability?” I believe only when the parent believes that it is possible – are they willing to accept the charge of writing a letter to the school asking that their child be tested for a learning disability.
The testing is done by the child’s school. Most of the time, a psychologist does a psychological analysis, the special ed teacher does educational testing (achievement testing is done in reading, writing,& math), and a social worker contacts the family and interviews them to rule out that the school issues are not coming from problems at home.
Committee on Special Education Meeting
Once the testing is completed, a meeting is called at the child’s school composed of the director of special services, a psychologist, a special ed. teacher, a social worker, a parent advocate, the parents and any other invited guests. This meeting is called the CSE ( Committee on Special Education). It may be called other names in other states.
Once the panel gives their results to the parents (yes, they can be classified as having a disability or no, there is not a real learning disability), the parents take action in 1 of 3 ways. The first way is to accept that their child was not diagnosed – at which time they seek new answers. The second way is the accept the classification and proceed with the IEP. And the third option is accepting the Committee’s ruling but not agreeing to the classification. Parents have these three choices.
The Individual Education Plan
If the child is given an I.E.P. (Individual Educational plan), the district then first sends the paper work to the state for processing. (The state cannot deny services.) It is then up to the local school district to make sure the IEP is followed. The teachers MUST follow the I.E.P. If they don’t, the parents can actually sue the district. Many times, if I look over the I.E.P. and question the child to be sure they are getting the services, we find out that it is not being followed. The parents then can ask for a meeting and bring this up. They have the right to ask for a meeting whenever they want. Most parents do not sue if there is simple neglect.
Once a child is classified, every three years they need to be tested all over again. This is called the Triannual. This is to protect the child to be sure they are receiving the services they are entitled to. The school also has the power at that point to say that the child is no longer eligible because they have improved. We do see kids at that point also. Often times that is when parents need help the most. Often times those kids really do need the help, but the state funding drys out and the parents must seek out an alternative like ours.
The IEP Process isn’t difficult, especially if you have experienced help on your side to help navigate every turn. If any of this has raised questions with you, please call us so we can go over your situation.
Please continue to our IEP archive for more on the IEP (504) Process ( Individual Education Plan Process).