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The IEP Process: What You Need To Know

Has your child been recently referred to the Child Study Team or are you wondering the ways in which to go about this process? Fortunately, here at Behaved Brains there are several clinicians who currently or have prior experience on the Child Study Team and within the school system. Regardless, the process of obtaining services can be lengthy and confusing. While reading this blog you will be informed about the ways to request formal evaluations as well as what to expect during each part of the process. 

First and foremost, who is the Child Study Team and what do they do? 

The Child Study Team is an interdisciplinary team of professionals that determine, through formal testing, whether a student qualifies for special education and related services. The team is typically made up of a school social worker, a school psychologist, and a learning disabilities consultant. One of the three team members will be assigned as your child’s case manager, the individual who you will be speaking to directly throughout the process. 

Whether your child’s teacher has referred them or, you, as parents, have written a formal letter requesting to meet with the Team here is what you can expect. Upon receiving the written notice, the Team has 20 days to convene a meeting. The first meeting is often referred to as the initial planning meeting where the Team, parents, teachers, and any other relevant school personnel come together to hear the concerns and to determine whether formal evaluations are warranted as this time. It is important to know, just because you or a doctor request for formal evaluations to be conducted, does not mean the Team has to do so. 

The Child Study Team agreed that evaluations are warranted at this time, what does this mean and what can I expect? 

If the Team believes formal evaluations are warranted at this time, each member will go over their assessments and what it entails during the initial planning meeting. The standard assessments that are typically conducted include a social assessment conducted by the school social worker, a psychological evaluation conducted by the school psychologist, an educational evaluation conducted by the learning disabilities consultant, in addition to any other related service evaluation if deemed necessary. Some of these related services may include speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, counseling and more. 

What can I expect after the initial planning meeting and upon agreeing to formal evaluations? 

During the initial planning meeting, the Team should review specific timelines. All evaluations must be completed within 90 days of the initial planning meeting. Once the 90 days are complete, your case manager will organize an eligibility meeting where each evaluation and the findings are reviewed in detail. During this meeting, the Team will decide whether the child qualifies for special education and related services, or not. The parents have 15 days to consider the eligibility report which means they have time to consider if they agree with the Team’s findings and diagnoses. The parents also have the option to waive the 15 days and move onto the next portion of the meeting. Regardless, a signature is needed before moving forward. 

At this meeting, your child may also be found not eligible for services which the Team will thoroughly go over as to why, based on their findings.

My child has been found eligible for special education and related services- what does this mean and what is an Individualized Education Plan (IEP)? 

When the team finds a student eligible for special education and related services and the parents agree to the eligibility report the student will acquire something called an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). An IEP is guided by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and provides special education and related services to a student who is identified as having a disability that negatively impacts the ability to receive academic instruction. A student who receives special education services is entitled to modification of curriculum, classroom accommodations, specialized instruction, and related services.

I agreed to my child’s IEP- what can I expect moving forward? 

Each year, typically towards the end, the case manager will hold an annual review meeting where they will discuss the child’s performance and recommendations for the following school year. Parents can request an IEP meeting at any time throughout the school year. An IEP is a living document and can be changed or modified at any time. As parents, you are equally a part of the Team. 

*If you need further support or information in this area- please reach out to our office as there are several clinicians who work within the school systems and can help you through this process.