The Individualized Education Plan
Parental involvement, always important to a child’s educational experience, is even more critical when that child has special needs. And the critical road map is the IEP, or Individualized Education Plan. “You’d be surprised how many parents don’t read it carefully,” notes Margaret Vogt, a Littman Krooks special education advocate with 20 years of experience in the field. “You need to be sure that every aspect is correct, that it faithfully reflects determinations made by the Committee on Special Education (CSE) and that even details such as name and address are accurate.”
Parents should closely review:
First ensure that the goals listed in the IEP reflect your discussions with the CSE. Each time you receive a progress report or meet with teachers, you should review the goals. If your child doesn’t seem to be advancing or if the goals seem to have been achieved, ask teachers if they believe they are still appropriate. It may be time to return to the CSE for further discussion.
Academic Support Services/Related Services
Family members, teachers, and service providers should be a team working in concert to create the best possible educational experience for your child. Review for accuracy the number of sessions and service hours detailed in the IEP and contact the CSE chair if there are discrepancies. Parents should regularly meet with all teachers and service providers and know them by name. Ask when during the school week the related services will be provided and how academic support services will be integrated into your child’s education. If appropriate, ask your child how any related service sessions are progressing. If there are problems, contact the providers.
Modifications & Accommodations
Check with your child, if possible, to learn how modifications and accommodations are being handled and if they’re proving helpful. Ask teachers and other classroom professionals if accommodations are being made consistently and if they believe that they are improving your child’s school experience.
Transportation is frequently a big problem for children with special needs. If this is an issue for your child, it’s very important to address it at the CSE meeting and to be certain that the IEP reflects any agreement reached. If standard bus service is not working well for your child, contact the CSE chair right away.
Ongoing communication with your child’s teachers and other service providers is essential. Certain approaches may prove ineffective and need adjustment. Do not wait for the annual IEP review to express your concerns. If the problem involves the classroom experience or a related service, first speak to the teacher or provider involved. If modification is needed, contact your CSE chair.
You are your child’s most effective advocate. Be involved and make your voice heard. And remember that Littman Krooks has many years of experience negotiating appropriate educational services for our clients–whether at CSE meetings, impartial hearings, or through a State Complaint.