An Update on the IEP Procedure

empty desk

This blog is a follow-up to an earlier blog (from this year) that discussed signing your IEP document.

The IEP meeting (one which determines the Individualized Educational Program for a child with a disability) can be a long and exhausting meeting.

In this blog, Iʼm not going to go into the meeting itself, but instead Iʼm going to clarify some previous advice I laid out in the first blog.

First and foremost, is any of my advice good for all states?

No!

My advice is always regarding the State of California only. It is the state which I reside and which my son has lived in his entire life. He has only lived in California and all of his IEPʼs have been in this state only.

By spelling this out, I mean that all of my advice pertains specifically to California. If I give out any advice, please make sure you check the rules/regulations/laws of your state. My advice may not apply.

And, what is my advice regarding IEPʼs?

First, that each state has separate guidelines as to the interpretation and implementation of IEPs.

Again, and I canʼt stress this enough, you will need to contact your own state’s public education system for the specific details.

Why does this matter?

I did some research and found this tidbit:

“Parents of children with IEPs report a wide range of success/failure in their interactions with the school systems. Some children get fantastic educational helps without even having an IEP in place; some children get disappointing help even with an IEP. As a parent, you should be aware of your child’s legal rights and the potentials of an IEP so that you can be a good advocate for your child.”

And, it all boils down to which state you live in.

Now, about my previous blog…

Earlier this year, I wrote a blog about not signing your IEP. In that blog, I did not clearly state that my experiences and advice about not signing an IEP are #1) my opinion based on my own experiences, #2) in regards only to the State of California.

Why is this important?

Because as Iʼve said now a bunch of times, each state has different rules/regulations/laws.

Now, with that being said, let me re-tread some information from my previous blog:

In California, and in my experience, I do not sign my sonʼs IEP at the end of the IEP meeting.

My husband and I take it home and review it the next day or later that night. We have even sent it to our friends who write IEPʼs for a living and asked them to review it for us.

Then, we sign it and return it within 2-3 business days.

If, for some reason, we ever disputed the IEP and decided against signing it, the rule is—in the State of California—the old IEP will remain in effect until any dispute is settled and the new/revised IEP is signed.

Here is some more research regarding the State of Californiaʼs IEP process:

“Someone from the school system will be assigned to carry out and monitor each phase of the IEP. A written copy of the IEP must be given to the parents who must agree to the recommendations, either completely or partially, or it is not valid. If the IEP does not seem complete or accurate, parents can appeal the results through a process known as Fair Hearing. The school district must provide information on this process if it is requested.”

Is that everything I wanted to clarify?

No.

I strongly stand by my previous advice (no matter what state you reside in) that you take the IEP home with you and review it post-meeting.

An IEP meeting is exhausting. My advice is go home, read the IEP at home, confer with your advisors, get fresh eyes on it, and then sign it if you feel it is acceptable.

Return it within a reasonable time frame.

However, remember that different states have different rules/regulations/laws about how long you can go without signing your IEP and/or how long you can keep it in our possession. For example, there might be a deadline imposed for you to return a signed IEP (like two weeks). Check with an authority who knows your particular state rules/regulations/laws if you want to take it home with you.

Additionally, here is a bit more information from my home state of California:

Rights:

In California, parents and students who are 18 and over have certain rights pertaining to special education, including the right to:

  • Request special education, initiating the IEP process
  • Participate in the development of the IEP
  • Be informed of all options and alternatives, including non-public as well as public programs
  • Receive prior written notice when the school district initiates or refuses to initiate the IEP process, or makes any changes in special education assessment or placement
  • Consent or refuse consent to assessment, implementation of special education services, and any changes to special education services
  • Have an interpreter present during IEP meetings, if deaf or not a native English speaker
  • Assessment methods which are not culturally biased or discriminatory
  • Independent educational assessment at public expense if you disagree with the assessment conducted by the school district
  • Inspect, review, and obtain copies of your child’s educational records
  • Keep your child in his current placement for the duration of any dispute with the district regarding a change in placement
  • A Due Process hearing when needed if you feel that your child is not receiving FAPE
  • Mediation in place of or prior to a due process hearing; mediation cannot be used to delay your right to a due process hearing
  • File a complaint with the California Department of Education against your school district if you believe it is in violation of the law; the Department must investigate and issue a written report within 60 days
  • Be informed of discipline and alternative placement; your child cannot be denied FAPE for disciplinary reasons

Iʼm covering this topic again because itʼs important.

I want to be clear. But, most of all, I need to emphasize that all of my experiences are based in one state, California. Please make sure you understand what the requirements of your particular state.

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