Guest Blog: IEP Q&A for Parents by, Emma Savino

I am pleased to welcome back School Psychologist, Emma Savino to EdGeeks. She really has become our resident guest blogger. Today, Savino de-mystifies the IEP process for parents. Thanks for sharing Emma!

IEP Q&A for Parents

Emma Savino, M.A., C.A.S. – School Psychologist

Starting the process for an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) can be daunting for parents.  Legal terms and IEP jargon can be overwhelming, resulting in many unanswered questions for parents. Here are some basic IEP Q&A’s that will help you on your journey.

  1. What is an IEP, anyway?
  • An IEP is a legal, binding document that is exactly what it states. Once your child is found eligible for special education services, the Committee on Special Education Team (CSE) will meet to devise an education plan for your child.
  1. Who are all of these people sitting at the table?! A typical CSE team includes the following people:
  • CSE Chairperson
  • General Education Teacher
  • Special Education Teacher
  • School Psychologist
  • Parent
  • Possible additions: translator, parent/family advocate, related service providers

Note: Parents also have a right to have a community member present at their meeting.  This team member is someone in your school district who also has a child with a disability. They can help guide you and provide insight on the process. You can also invite anyone who knows your child well. Students may attend meetings when old enough, between middle and high school.

  1. When do CSE meetings take place? CSE meetings take place depending on what will be discussed.
  • Annual reviews take place every year and plan for the following school year.  Changes may be made depending on your child’s needs and progress. Parent
  • Reevaluation meetings occur every 3 years.  This is when updated psychoeducational testing is completed to determine if your child still meets criteria.
  • A program review is held anytime a change needs to be made to your child’s IEP.
  • As a parent, you also have the right to call a meeting at anytime.
  1. Will my child have an IEP forever?
  • Maybe. Depending on your child’s needs, they may require an IEP for their entire school career (available through age 21).  However, some students, if intervention is started early, make exceptional gains with special education support.  If this is found, the child may be declassified.  An alternative to declassification is to gradually reduce services to promote independence.
  1. What is my role as a parent in this whole process?
  • Be supportive and open-minded.  The Committee may make recommendations that you do not agree with.  Be sure to hear them out and gather as much information as you can before making any decisions. Remember that you have the final say, but also remember to keep your child’s best interest in mind.
  1. What will my child receive on their IEP?
  • This varies from student to student depending on their needs. Some may only require testing accommodations, while others may need special programs or related services (i.e. speech, OT, PT).  Services also tend to change with age.
  1. What happens if my child does not qualify?
  • If your child does not qualify, this means that their learning profile does not fit under any of the 13 classifications.  This means that although your child may struggle, their skill deficits do not necessary warrant special education services.  Providing them with AIS supports and building level remediation may be all they need.  Also, be sure to rule out any medical issues that may impact learning.
  1. How does an IEP help my child in the classroom?
  • School staff is legally obligated to follow an IEP.  This ensures that specific services/accommodations for your child.  More importantly, an IEP meeting allows the team of student advocates to come together and design specific goals for the year. It supports teachers to provide differentiated instruction and allows students to be exposed to grade level material that is presented on their level.  The goal of an IEP is to promote maximal independence in the classroom and provide the least restrictive environment for a child.

Still have questions? Feel free to submit via email and Emma and I will do our best to help!

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