Feeling confused or overwhelmed by your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP)? Read on to learn IEP basics including the laws protecting your child’s rights, the parts of an IEP, and advocacy tips. Along the way, the alphabet soup of acronyms will be demystified.
Law: The year 2020 marks the 45th anniversary of the enactment of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This federal law outlines the rights of students with disabilities, including the right to a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) in the student’s Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). This means that students with disabilities have the right to a cost-free education in the public schools that meets their individual needs. That education is to take place in the most inclusive setting possible for the individual. School districts usually provide services along a continuum ranging from full inclusion in the general education classroom to self-contained special education classrooms. The most appropriate placement will depend on the individual, but discussion about LRE should begin with full inclusion.
The Individualized Education Program (IEP): A legal document called an IEP is developed and revised at least annually for each child with a qualifying disability. The document is created by the IEP team which consists of school professionals, parents, and any other individuals that have special knowledge about the child. It is essential to note that parents are full members of the IEP team! Even though IEP meetings around a table with multiple school professionals may feel intimidating, parents should remember that they know their child better than anyone and that they are their child’s best advocate.
Parts of the IEP:
Free Advocacy Resources:
Disability Rights Michigan
Advice from advocates and lawyers.
Michigan Alliance for Families
Speak with a local parent mentor
A2 Therapy Works
Monthly tips, tricks, and activity ideas from our therapists!