What Is the ARD Process?


If you are raising a child with a disability in Texas, you may have heard about the ARD process in regards to their education. ARD stands for “Admission, Review, and Dismissal.” The ARD committee, sometimes referred to as the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team, is formed for your child to help make decisions about their eligibility for special education and related services, and how their special education programs will be structured. This committee will include the child’s parent(s), a regular education teacher and a special education teacher for the child, at least one school representative, and anyone else you or the school district invites. If they are old enough, the child may also be present. Other specialists may join the meeting as well, depending on your child’s needs. While the exact details of the meeting vary by school district, in general, the committee will utilize metrics such as tests and evaluations to set goals for the child’s education and how their needs will be met, so an individualized IEP plan can be drawn up for that school year. 

 When Is an ARD Meeting Needed?

The ARD process helps ensure that your child is receiving all services they need to get the best possible education experience. It allows parents to voice their expectations and opinions about the educational program and can take into account the child’s wants and needs as well, with guidance from educators and specialists. For the education plan to be effective, it needs to be updated frequently to account for changes in the child’s situation. Times when an ARD meeting may be scheduled include:

  • When the child has started school or has changed schools
  • When it is time for the yearly ARD review
  • If the child receives a new diagnosis or performs new assessments
  • When you or a teacher request a change to the IEP
  • If the child is making a transition from public school to life skills training, home or private schooling, or a job
  • The child is having a hard time meeting current IEP goals 

 How Can You Prepare for an ARD Meeting?

As a parent, you know your child better than anyone. When you are properly prepared for your child’s ARD meeting, you can share insights and information with the other members of the committee so they can take this into account while designing the IEP. Some documents which may be useful are:

  • Copies of any recent evaluation reports
  • Medical documentation of your child’s diagnoses and behaviors
  • Any new additions you are requesting to your child’s school records or IEP
  • A list of any new behaviors (good or bad) your child has been exhibiting and any concerns stemming from this
  • A written copy of any comments or observations you have about your child’s academics or functionality 

 What if I Am Dissatisfied With the ARD Process?  

The goal of the ARD process is to provide your child with a free appropriate public education (FAPE) which meets their individual needs. Sometimes parents disagree with the education plan laid out for their child. In these cases, there are formal options for resolving these disagreements such as mediation or state IEP facilitation. If you are still dissatisfied with the treatment of your child after these resolution attempts, you may choose to place your child into a private school setting. If you find yourself in this situation, you may wish to consult a special needs attorney to see if you can recover some or all of the costs of this private schooling if the district failed to provide your child with a FAPE.

Author Bio

Kevin Piwowarski Shields

Kevin Shields

Kevin Shields is a Founding Member and Special Education Lawyer at Shields Law Firm, representing children and families in special needs matters throughout Texas. Before becoming a lawyer, Kevin worked as a general education teacher and fought for increased inclusion time for his students receiving services. He advocated for his students by calling out providers who missed sessions and was often the dissenting voice at the IEP table.

Kevin obtained his Juris Doctor from Georgetown University Law School and holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Texas at Austin. He is admitted to practice law in Texas, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. He is also a member of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) and holds memberships in the State Bar of Texas, focusing on School Law, Juvenile Law, and Child Protection Law. He is also a member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners.

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