Individualized Education Program (IEP) Checklist

Representing Clients in New York & Nationwide

Your child's Individualized Education Program (IEP) is crucial to ensuring your child receives the free appropriate public education (FAPE) to which they are entitled by law. The IEP includes an assessment of your child's current performance, gives measurable goals for your child's growth over the course of the school year, and mandates what services the school is to provide, how often they are to be provided, by whom, and where. A well-designed IEP is a blueprint for your child's success (assuming the district upholds its promised services), so it is important to be prepared for your child's annual IEP meeting.

This checklist will help you prepare for your child's annual IEP meeting. If you want, we can attend your child's IEP meeting with you to help ensure your child is provided with an appropriate IEP. For a free initial consultation on this possibility, or regarding any aspect of your child’s education, please call or email Goldstein, Ackerhalt & Pletcher, LLP today.

Preparing for the IEP Meeting

____ 1. Get (and organize) all school records relevant to your child's IEP, including:
          ____Prior IEP(s)
          ____Notes from teachers and others who have worked with your child
          ____Progress reports
          ____Results of standardized tests and evaluations
          ____A draft of the new IEP or a copy of notes toward the new IEP if the district has them
          ____Relevant school health records

____ 2. Assemble representative samples of work (with teachers' marks) your child has brought home. If you don't have samples, ask for them from the school.

____ 3. Talk with people who have worked with your child to get their views of your child's progress and needs, including teachers, other school officials, doctors, nurses, and others. Make sure to note any concerns expressed by these people to ensure they are addressed at the IEP meeting.

____ 4. Talk to your child's teacher(s) about the possibility of observing your child in a classroom setting.

____ 5.  Read the Procedural Safeguards that your school district is obligated to provide to you.

____ 6. Consider reviewing the regulations governing IEPs on the government's IDEA website, starting here: http://idea.ed.gov/explore/view/p/%2Croot%2Cdynamic%2CTopicalBrief%2C10%2C

____7. Assess your child's present level of functioning, including assessment of:
          ____Academic skills
          ____Developmental level
          ____Motor skills
          ____Language skills
          ____Social skills
          ____Independence
          ____Vocational skills

____ 8. Review your child's previous IEP, and ask:
          ____Have the goals been met?
          ____Were the services promised in the IEP provided for my child?
          ____How has my child changed since this IEP was written? Do they still need these services? Are there additional services that will help them meet academic, social, and other goals?
          ____What are reasonable goals for my child during this year?
          ____What skills should we be building now for the future?

____ 9. Consider whether you need additional help to meet your child's needs at home, including help with:
          ____Communication skills
          ____Physical therapy techniques
          ____Occupational therapy techniques
          ____Positive enforcement techniques

____ 10. Based on your child's current skills and the goals you want for your child in the upcoming year, make a list of any special services you consider necessary for inclusion in your child's IEP.

____11. Ask yourself: is my child old/mature enough to attend the IEP meeting?

____ 12. Consider who you might like to have with you at the IEP meeting, including a friend, family member, or special education attorney.

____ 13. Consider whether you want to tape the meeting, and inform the school district if you will be taping it.

During the IEP Meeting

Remember that you are an equal member of the IEP team, but not the only member. Never hesitate to share your opinion, but always be prepared to listen. Take detailed notes and for the most important points make sure you read your notes back at the meeting to ensure you have accurately represented the points being made.

Start by sharing ideas about the previous IEP and your child's progress during the previous year. Make sure everyone is in agreement about how much progress your child made, which teaching techniques worked and which didn't. This is also a good time to be sure you understand all the jargon used in the IEP.

If your child doesn't have a previous IEP, begin by reviewing the evaluations that have been used to identify whether your child has a disability. Make sure you have a good understanding of these evaluations and of your child’s disability.

Always keep your child's interests central to the conversation. Services provided must be based on your child's needs, not on restricted availability of resources, and should be provided in the least restrictive setting that is appropriate to your child.

Remember that your child is not entitled to optimize or maximize their potential, but rather has a right to an appropriate education. This means the IEP must be designed to meet the unique needs of your child.

Remember to keep a balance among your child's various needs, including academic, social, physical, and language skills, among others.

Also remember that the IEP should include accommodations and modifications your child needs during regular education classes.

Don't forget that extracurricular activities can be a very important part of the education process, especially for older children. Address any accommodations that may be necessary to ensure your child has access to appropriate extracurricular activities.

Make sure goals remain measurable and that the standards to be used for them are clear.

If you cannot come to an agreement with other members of the IEP team, make sure the points of disagreement are clear. If you think it may be helpful, you can request another meeting to resolve differences.

Finally, before you leave the meeting make sure:
____The entire IEP form is filled out, or when it will be provided.
____The services the district is to provide are all clearly delineated: What is to be provided? Who is supposed to provide it? How long it is to be provided for?
____Regular education time is also included.

After the IEP Meeting

Request a copy of the IEP meeting minutes or notes (if any) and review them for accuracy. If there are corrections, make a copy of the corrected minutes and send it back to the district.

If you have unresolved conflicts with the rest of the IEP team, consider ways to resolve the conflict:

  • If you have a second meeting scheduled, the attendance of a special education attorney may help smooth difficulties
  • Non-binding mediation can be a good method to resolve conflicts
  • You can request a due process hearing before an impartial hearing officer (IHO)

If you are satisfied with the IEP, consider sharing it with others who work with your child outside the school setting, including health care providers, family members, day care providers, and those who provide after-school activities or care for your child.

Observe your child's program throughout the year, and communicate with the teacher and others, to ensure your child is making good progress toward goals and is getting the services promised in the IEP.

If you have any concerns about your child's progress or the IEP, remember that you can request an IEP review meeting at any time.

Please contact Goldstein, Ackerhalt & Pletcher, LLP today to discuss your child’s IEP; we serve clients nationwide.