The IEP Process
What should I do if my child is having difficulty at school?
A student experiencing educational difficulty may be referred to the school site's Student Study Team (SST). The team will meet with the child's parents to discuss the child's strengths and concerns, and propose interventions and accommodations to support the child at school. A student may be referred by his or her teacher: in this case parents will be contacted by the teacher and invited to attend SST. A parent may also refer their child to SST by contacting the classroom teacher or school principal.
What happens at an SST meeting?
You will meet with your child's classroom teacher and other school-based professionals, such as the education specialist, speech pathologist, and school psychologist. The team will discuss and document your child's strengths and challenges, and will work together to determine the best interventions to support your child in school. These interventions will be implemented for a specific period of time, usually between four and ten weeks. The classroom teacher will monitor your child's progress during this time, to determine the success of the interventions.
Your participation in the SST process is valuable, as you have unique knowledge of your child. School staff appreciate the time you take to attend such meetings.
What will happen if my child's difficulties persist?
If interventions do not produce the expected progress, students may be referred for evaluation to determine if they are eligible for special education. Accommodations and interventions within the general education program must be documented prior to a referral for special education services. Concerned parents are encouraged to conference with the teacher and may request that their child be considered for special education services.
How is eligibility for special education determined?
A referral for consideration for special education begins with an evaluation plan developed by the assessment team. As parents you must give written informed consent before such an evaluation can be conducted. The evaluation typically includes a review of school records, developmental or medical information provided by parents, observation of the student at school, review of work samples, and completion of formal and/or informal assessment tools. The Individualized Education Program (IEP) Team then meets to discuss the evaluation results.
If a student meets eligibility criteria for any of the 14 disability areas and is in need of special education in order to benefit from the educational program, the IEP team may determine that s/he is eligible for special education. In this case, the team will develop an IEP (Individualized Educational Program) which will provide FAPE ( a Free and Appropriate Public Education) in the LRE (Least Restrictive Environment).
What are the categories of disability?
The state of California has identified 14 areas of eligibility, or handicapping conditions. These are:
- Emotionally Disturbed
- Established Medical Disability
- Hard of Hearing
- Mental Retardation
- Multiple Disabilities
- Orthopedically Impaired
- Other Health Impaired
- Specific Learning Disability
- Speech/Language Impairment
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Visually Impaired
Who is included in the IEP team?
The IEP team includes the following people:
- Parent(s): The student's parent(s), legal guardian, parent surrogate or parent designee. The parents must sign the IEP before implementation.
- Special Education Teacher: A special education teacher, or when appropriate, a special education service provider.
- District Administrator (or designee): A representative from the district, who is knowledgeable about programs and curriculum; who is qualified to supervise special education services, and who is able to commit the district's resources. Generally, this is the school site principal or the district special education coordinator.
- General Education Teacher: If the student participates in, or is expected to participate in a general education class, a general education teacher, knowledgeable about the curriculum at the student's grade level, attends the IEP meetings.
- Assessor: Any district staff member who conducted an
assessment or evaluation of the student that is used to determine the
student's strengths and areas of needs.
- Others: Individuals with knowledge or expertise regarding the student. These may include case manager, interpreter, agency representatives or other individuals invited by parent or district.
What is an IEP?
The IEP is an educational plan that:
- Describes the student’s current skills and areas of need/weakness.
- Outlines the plan of specially designed instruction to address the areas of need/weakness and to maximize skill acquisition and maintenance.
- Identifies the student's annual educational goals.
- Lists the services to be provided during the year.
Once developed, the IEP is reviewed at least annually. However, if parent(s) or teacher(s) request, the IEP may be review more frequently. The student's IEP is confidential, and is accessible only to all staff responsible for its implementation, including general education teachers, special education teachers and related service providers. Teachers and providers are informed of their specific responsibilities in implementing the child's IEP, including specific accommodations, modifications and supports.