What should I expect after the meeting that determined my child has a disability?
What is an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and when is it developed?
Who will be at the IEP meeting?
What are the roles and responsibilities of the team members at the meeting?
How are decisions made during IEP meetings?
What is decision-making by consensus?
What if there are differences of opinion during the meeting?
What if the IEP team cannot reach consensus?
What can I do to prepare for the IEP Program meeting?
Should my child attend his/her IEP meeting?
Who can I bring to the IEP meetings?
What if I need accommodations and/or assistance for the meeting(s)?
Who will work with my child?
Where will my child receive services?
How can I find out more about my rights as a parent under special education law?
You will receive a copy of the IEP evaluation in the US mail or delivered to you in person.
You will be contacted by someone from the Madison Schools (the IEP Chairperson) who will describe the next steps in the IEP process, schedule the next IEP meeting and answer any questions you may have. This is the chairperson’s first opportunity to get to know you and to help you prepare for the IEP programming meeting. If the IEP chairperson does not give you his/her contact information, please ask him/her for that information in case you have additional questions before your child’s IEP meeting.
An IEP is a legal document that represents an individualized education program to ensure that your child receives a free appropriate public education (FAPE). It is developed at an IEP programming and placement meeting by the IEP team. This occurs after the IEP team has determined that your child has a disability (impairment and need for special education). Subsequent IEP Programs are developed once a year on the anniversary of the initial IEP Evaluation.
The IEP has four major parts:
- Present Level of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance (PLAAFP) describes your child’s current skills and abilities.
- Annual Goals are the outcomes you and the other IEP team participants anticipate that your child can accomplish in one year.
- Service Needs include accommodations and modifications required for participation in the general education environment and curriculum. This includes direct services and consultation provided by special and general education staff on behalf of your child.
- Placement is the educational location where the specialized instruction and services are provided.
Minimally, the “core” IEP team is comprised of the following:
- general education teacher,
- special education teacher, and
- local educational agency representative (LEA Representative).
The special education teacher typically serves as the IEP team chairperson. The chairperson facilitates the meeting and completes most of the paperwork. You are also an active, equal and influential participant of the team.
Based on your child’s needs, other professionals might attend the meeting, such as a school based speech and language clinician, physical therapist, occupational therapist, psychologist, nurse and/or social worker.
- As the parent/legal guardian, you will represent the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of your child and be an equal voice in the development of the IEP.
- The general education teacher provides input about the general education curriculum, your child’s ability to meet curriculum standards at his/her age/grade level and how your child is doing in his/her classroom.
- The special education teacher provides input about specialized curriculum and instruction based on the individualized needs of your child.
- The chairperson is usually the special education teacher. This individual facilitates the meeting and is responsible for documenting the discussion and decisions of the IEP team.
- The chairperson is your contact person during this process.
- The LEA representative ensures that you are informed of your rights during the IEP meeting. In addition, he/she will decide if any additional resources are needed to implement the IEP.
- Other professionals might attend the meeting. They provide input specific to their areas of expertise and how it relates to your child’s needs.
During the meeting, the IEP team participants will discuss your child’s educational programming. All participants will have an equal voice in the discussion and decision-making. Consensus must be reached through an open discussion in order to develop the best plan for your child.
Decision-making by consensus means the IEP team will discuss your child’s program until all IEP team participants reach a decision they can all “live with.” The decisions may not be optimal or ideal from everyone’s standpoint. All IEP team members should agree that the IEP is reasonably developed and enables the child to receive meaningful educational benefit. Decisions will not be made through a majority rules voting process.
If there are differences of opinion during the meeting, the IEP chairperson will work with the team to attempt to resolve all disagreements. If the team cannot resolve their differences, the LEA Representative may stop the meeting and ask for assistance from the building principal, a program support teacher or an assistant director of special education. An additional meeting will be scheduled to attempt to resolve those differences.
If the IEP team cannot reach consensus after receiving assistance from a building principal, program support teacher or a special education coordinator, the LEA Rep. will be responsible for representing the District’s offer of a free appropriate public education and inform you of your rights, including the possible next steps that you might take.
Carefully review the evaluation report after you receive it. In preparation for the upcoming IEP meeting, be ready to discuss your child’s hopes, dreams, and aspirations. Prioritize two to three critical areas in which you would like to see your child improve.
If your child is younger than the age of 14, the decision to have your child attend his/her IEP meeting is a parent decision. If one of the purposes of the IEP meeting is transition (preparing a child for life after high school), your child will automatically be invited. Transition planning is a required part of every child’s IEP starting at age 14. If your child is age 18 and has reached the age of majority, he/she must be invited. In this situation you would not be invited unless your child gave prior permission.
You may bring individuals who can assist you in participating in the IEP meeting including family members, advocates, or community members.
Please let the IEP chairperson know if you need accommodations or assistance. Physical accommodations, transportation to and from the meeting, childcare or interpreter services for a hearing impairment or language other than English can be provided. In addition, audio taping of IEP meetings is available at the parent’s request.
In most cases, your child will work with general education teacher(s) and special education teachers/staff. In addition, based upon your child’s disability, a speech and language clinician, occupational/physical therapist, school nurse, school psychologist, school social worker, special education assistant and/or other specialized staff may work with your child. Your child’s needs, as described in the IEP, will determine who will work with your child.
In most cases children receive special education services in the general education setting and continue to attend the school they would attend if they did not have an IEP.
You will be provided a copy of the Special Education Rights for Parents and Children at the initial IEP evaluation meeting. It will also be provided to you on an annual basis (at the annual IEP meeting), and additionally if a Manifestation Determination IEP meeting is convened regarding your child. The MMSD website also has links to parent rights brochures and the Department of Public Instruction.