When your child has an Individualized Education Program (IEP) set up with your school, you may have many questions in terms of how it works, how it’s monitored, how progress is tracked, what happens if enough progress isn’t being made, and should changes be made to the IEP. Sometimes it can feel intimidating to request a meeting with school professionals. But in Texas, parents have the right to request an IEP team meeting at any time, and there are many good times to do so.
What is an IEP?
IEPs are programs mandated by the U.S. Department of Education’s Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that says children with disabilities must be provided an appropriate education. These programs are meant to ensure that no matter the disability, every child will receive the services needed to provide them with the best education possible. It does so by assessing the child and determining the best approach to providing education and what resources will be required to achieve that.
What Disabilities Are Eligible for IEP Services?
It’s not uncommon for people to think about physical conditions when they see the word “disabilities” and think that the types of resources needed amount to things like having Braille books for the blind or American Sign Language interpreters for the deaf. While these are disabilities that need to be accommodated, there are many more conditions covered by IDEA. In Texas, the following can be considered eligible for IEPs:
- Auditory impairment
- Emotional disturbance
- Intellectual disability
- Orthopedic impairment
- Learning disability
- Speech impairment
- Traumatic brain injury
- Visual impairment
- Other health impairments or non-categorical early childhood conditions
What Is the Parent’s Role with the IEP Team?
The parent has a vital role on the admission, review, and dismissal (ARD) committee with the education professionals. The ARD committee is the group that will evaluate the child and determines the best course of action in the future. As part of the ARD, parents should feel welcome and actively encouraged to participate. You know your child well and see aspects of them at home and in private life. These aspects may not be seen at school and can help educational professionals have a well-rounded view of your child that will enable them to make the best recommendations possible.
Along with the parent, other members of the ARD must include at least one regular education teacher, at least one special education teacher or provider, a school representative, someone with the expertise to interpret the implications of the evaluation in terms of how they’ll affect the child’s ability to learn, and at times, the child. There are times when one or more people can be excused from an IEP meeting, such as when that person’s particular expertise is not relevant to the discussion. If the expertise is relevant, they can only be excused if the parent agrees in writing, the school consents to the absence, and the person being excused provides a written account of what they would have presented at the meeting. This must be available for the rest of the ARD and the parents in advance of the meeting.
In general, the ARD will consider parental input and history, recent evaluations of the child, the child’s various needs that affect their academic performance (whether academic, developmental, or functional), and the strengths of the child.
When Do IEP Teams Usually Meet with Parents?
The parents usually meet the IEP team for the first time after evaluating the child. At that time, the team will go over the results of the evaluation and explain if the child is eligible for IEP services, or if not, why not, and what the next steps may be.
Once an IEP is put into place, the ARD committee must meet at least once a year to review the child’s progress and develop a new IEP for the following year. At that annual meeting, the discussion will focus on the child’s progress toward the IEP’s goals, if new goals should be implemented (whether more or less challenging, depending on the progress made), whether any changes to the services and special education are needed, and any other information related to the child.
Can I Request an IEP Team Meeting at Some Point Other than the Annual Review?
Yes. This usually occurs when new, unexpected challenges arise, or any member of the ARD sees problems happening that need to be addressed sooner than the annual meeting. The meeting has to be scheduled at a mutually agreeable time for all relevant committee members who need to attend. Typically, parents may request a meeting if they feel needed services aren’t being provided, if the academic progress appears not to be happening in the expected time frame, if the parent feels the child could handle more challenging work, if there are issues with any of the special education providers, or other issues.
What Should I Do if I Feel My Child’s School Isn’t Responsive About the IEP?
Call us at 832-422-7333 for a free, in-depth, no-obligation discovery call. Your child’s education is vitally important, to them and you, and making sure they’re receiving what they’re legally entitled to is a top priority, for you and for us. We have years of experience working with Texas schools and IEPs, so we have knowledge and insight into how IEPs should and shouldn’t work. We understand that we represent not just you, but your child–and we will take their IEP as seriously as we’d take our own children’s.