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Special Education: Protecting Your Child, Protecting Your Rights

October 2016

If you think your child needs special education services, this guide can help you have your child evaluated to see what services are needed. You will also learn how to help make sure your child gets the services he or she needs to do well in school.

Si usted cree que su niño necesita servicios de educación especial, esta guía le puede ayudar para que su hijo sea evaluado para determinar qué servicios son necesarios. También aprenderá como asegurarse de que su niño reciba los servicios que él o ella necesita para hacer bien en la escuela.

My child is eligible for special education. What happens next?

The Individualized Education Program (IEP)

The next step is to hold a meeting to create a plan for your child's education. This plan is called an Individualized Education Program, or IEP. At the PPT meeting, the team should

  • set reasonable goals for your child’s education, and
  • talk about the special education services your child will get.

The IEP must be put in writing, and the school district must get your written permission to place your child in special education. The school cannot force you to agree to special education for your child.

Who develops my child's IEP? Can I help?

The Planning and Placement Team (PPT) develops your child's IEP. Remember: You are a very important part of the team and your input is needed.

How can I get ready for the IEP meeting?

Here are some things you can do before the IEP meeting:

  • Talk to your child about his or her thoughts and feelings about school.
  • Talk to your child's teachers and/or therapists.
  • Ask the school for a copy of your child’s school records. It should not cost you anything to get them (see Sample Letter B).
  • Make a list of your child's strengths, weaknesses, and what you think your child can accomplish during the school year.
  • Write down what you want to say during the meeting. Don't be shy about asking questions and sharing your thoughts about your child.
  • Visit your child's class (with the school’s permission).
  • Make sure that all necessary evaluations have been done. You can ask for more evaluations if you think your child needs them. You may want to have a professional such as your child’s pediatrician or a social worker look at your child’s records to see if more evaluations are needed.
  • Invite professionals to the IEP meeting who will support your suggestions about your child's IEP or placement. These professionals must have evaluated your child or looked at your child's records.

What information should be in the IEP?

It is important to make sure that the IEP includes all of the services that your child needs, including:

1. Information about how your child is doing in school both in academics and in everyday activities.

2. Goals that describe what the team thinks your child can accomplish during the year.

3. Information about the progress your child is making toward the IEP goals.

4. A list of the special education services that will be given to your child.

5. Information about how your child will participate in regular education.

6. Details about your child’s school day, including

  • where your child will be during the school day;
  • who will work with your child;
  • the start and end dates of the services; and
  • how long each session will last.

7. A list of changes your child may need to the length of the school day or year. This could include a longer school year, summer school, or services before or after school.

8. An explanation of changes your child may need while taking state tests or district-wide tests.

9. Transition goals and services your child may need in order to prepare for life after school.

After the meeting to develop the IEP, the school must give you a written report about what was talked about at the meeting and what will be in the IEP.

Placement in Special Education

What if the school won’t evaluate my child or I disagree with the school’s evaluations?

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