How Does an IEP Work?

Individualized Education ProgramAn Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a personalized plan designed to address the unique educational needs of students with disabilities, outlining specific goals, accommodations, and support services tailored to optimize their learning and development within the school setting. It’s a legally binding document that functions like an educational roadmap.

The IEP should ensure that children with disabilities have access to the same educational opportunities as their peers without disabilities. The IEP process involves collaboration between parents, educators, and other professionals to identify the student’s unique needs, set measurable goals, and determine the appropriate services and accommodations necessary to support the student’s academic and developmental progress.

What’s in an Individualized Education Program (IEP)?

An IEP must have the following information:

  • The child’s present level of academic achievement and performance, including how their disability prevents them from progressing in the special education curriculum.
  • Measurable annual academic and functional goals.
  • How the child’s progress in meeting these goals will be measured, and when those reports are to be provided.
  • A statement on the special education services to be provided to the child.
  • An explanation of the extent of time, if any, the child will not spend with non-disabled children.
  • A statement on any necessary individual accommodations to measure academic achievement and functional performance.
  • The projected date for services and modifications, and the frequency, location, and duration of these services.

IEPs should be reviewed annually.

How do I get an IEP for my child?

The process begins with a request for evaluation. This request may come from you, or your child’s teacher. You must provide consent for your child to be evaluated. The school then conducts an evaluation, and the IEP team determines whether your child is eligible for an IEP based on their needs and eligibility criteria.

If your child already has an IEP and you are enrolling them in Seattle Public Schools, be sure to tell Admissions about the IEP and, if possible, bring their most recent IEP and evaluation with you.

Who is on the IEP team?

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) describes the IEP team as:

  • The parents of the child
  • At least one regular education teacher for the child
  • At least one special education teacher for the child
  • A representative of the school system
  • An individual who can interpret evaluation results
  • The student, as appropriate
  • Others with specialized knowledge about the child

Everyone must work as a team to create the IEP, and a meeting to create the IEP must be held within 30 days of deciding whether the child is eligible for special education services.

What happens if an IEP is not followed?

When a school doesn’t follow an IEP, it violates IDEA, which is federal law. You may be able to take legal action against the school, such as filing a lawsuit. The Seattle special education attorneys at Smith McBroom can help with this.

Here are some other consequences for not following an IEP:

  • Compensatory education: The school district may provide public-funded tutoring hours to compensate for the educational loss caused by not following an IEP.
  • Legal action for teachers: Teachers may face legal action, including losing their certification.
  • Prohibition of procedural violations: Procedural violations in an IEP automatically invalidate the IEP. For example, if the IEP team doesn’t change instructional procedures when data indicates a student is failing to progress, the school may be ruled to have denied the student a Free and Appropriate Public Education.

Because an IEP is a legally binding document for services between a school district and a child’s parents, if the district does not provide the child with the services outlined in the IEP, they are violating the law.

If you’re struggling to handle the complexities of the Individualized Education Program process for your child with special needs, consider reaching out to the special education attorneys at Smith McBroom in Seattle today. We can provide guidance, advocate for your child’s rights, and ensure that their educational needs are met according to the law. Don’t hesitate to seek legal support to secure the best possible educational outcomes for your child. To schedule a consultation with an experienced lawyer, call our offices or fill out our contact form today.