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Saturday, November 23, 2013

How to Respond to an IEP – Top 5 Tips for Parents

From Moor Law

By Michelle Moor, Esq.
October 24, 2013

As many parents of children with special needs know all too well, figuring out how to respond to a proposed Individualized Education Plan (IEP) can be a challenge. Here are some tips for parents who may be wondering whether or not they should accept or reject a proposed IEP:

1.) Take Your Time. The law allows parents to take up to 30 calendar days to review an IEP before responding. You should never feel pressured to sign an IEP at a Team meeting, or before you have had a chance to read the document thoroughly.

2.) Read the IEP Carefully - and Ask Questions. IEPs can be confusing, awkwardly written, and difficult to follow. Nonetheless, it is critical that you take time to read your child’s IEP very carefully. You should be certain that you understand what is on every page before signing it. If you find yourself having questions about how to read the IEP, don’t hesitate to contact a parent advocacy group or a special education attorney for some assistance.

You may also want to contact your child’s Team chair if something in the IEP appears inaccurate or is unclear. The bottom line is to be sure to get answers to all of your questions before you formally respond to the IEP.

3.) Compare the Proposed IEP to the Last IEP. School districts are required to update IEPs at least annually. It is always a good idea to compare a new IEP to the last IEP. This will help you verify that your child’s goals and objectives have been updated (if they have not been changed in a meaningful way, then you may want to have the Team meet again to discuss whether or not your child is making progress).

You also want to keep track of anything that has been added or omitted to the IEP. If the district has dropped an accommodation or service, for example, make sure you feel comfortable with this change before accepting it.

4.) Accept What You Can, Reject and Explain the Rest. It is generally a good idea to accept the parts of a proposed IEP that you feel are appropriate. However, if you are worried that your child is not making progress or the IEP is deficient in some way, then it is important that you note your specific concerns in writing on your IEP response, and formally reject the parts of the IEP that you feel to be inadequate or missing.

5.) Amending Your IEP Response. Many parents do not realize that they may amend their response to their child’s current IEP at any time. In other words, you do not need to wait a year – or until a new IEP is proposed – before informing the district that you would like to modify your IEP response.

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NESCA FAQ: Why does an evaluation at NESCA always address educational issues?
NESCA considers testing for both diagnostic and educational purposes to be inseparable elements of an effective evaluation. Because your child’s disability will inevitably affect his or her performance in school, it is essential to understand the nature and extent of that impact. Much of any necessary remediation may well happen in school, and we need to be able to write well-reasoned, specific recommendations about how the school should address your child’s special needs.

These recommendations must be made persuasively, in a way that maximizes the likelihood that the school will recognize the recommended services as integral parts of the "free and appropriate public education (FAPE)" that public schools are required to provide to children with special needs. In addition, your child may need, and be entitled to, accommodations for his or her disability in the academic setting, and this also needs to be carefully documented.

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