Special Education Newsletter

Prepare For The New School Year

As you and your child await the beginning of a new school year, now is the time to review your child’s IEP and determine whether the IEP proposed at the IEP meeting held last school year is appropriate for the new school year.   Children, especially younger children, can transform during the summer; physical development, new experiences and opportunities to engage with other children during the summer can significantly impact a child. Before your child begins school, carefully review his/her IEP and determine whether changes are in order.  If you believe revisions should be made, clearly identify concrete examples of how your child has changed.  For example, stating, “My child is talking more” is not as helpful as, “This summer, my son starting using adjectives to describe things.  I made a list of the ones I have heard him use and I will provide you a copy.”  You should also identify what specific changes you are seeking.  Asking for “better goals” or “more services” will leave school staff  confused, whereas, asking that a goal be developed in a certain area or that your child receive a particular service will allow your requests due consideration. A school district must provide a detailed response to parental requests to a change an IEP.  If the changes are simple, you may be able to make those changes through an IEP Amendment without the necessity of a meeting.  However, you are always better served to make a written request for an IEP meeting and cancel the meeting if it is not needed rather than request a meeting at the last minute.  In California, a school district is required to convene an IEP meeting within 30 days of receiving a written parental request for an IEP meeting (prolonged periods where school is not in session generally do not count towards those 30 days).  Ca. Ed. Code §56343.5.

Evaluate And Provide Information

If parents find that changes in their child warrant changes to their child’s IEP, they should not hesitate to make their concerns and requests known to their school district.  (One way to determine whether changes need to be made to the IEP is to mentally walk through the child’s school day to visualize how the child is doing across a wide array of settings, activities and events, and see whether the IEP provides the appropriate level of support for the child.) If you request an IEP meeting, prepare well for the meeting. Carefully review the IEP so you can specifically focus on your areas of concern.  If you have  documented information that your child has changed, provide it to the IEP team. Parents are also permitted to bring anyone they believe may have “knowledge or special expertise” regarding their child to the IEP meeting.  Ca. Ed. Code §56341(b)(6).

Things To Look For As You Review Your Child’s IEP

· How has my child’s performance across activities, settings and events changed?

· Are the components of the IEP prepared last school year appropriate for the new school year?

· Should I request an IEP meeting to make changes to the IEP?

· What documentation can I provide that will demonstrate the changes in my child and/or how the IEP should be changed?

· Are there professionals or other individuals with specialized knowledge regarding my child that I should invite to the IEP meeting?

This information is for general purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. Any liability that might arise from your use or reliance on this information is expressly disclaimed. The reader is cautioned to seek the guidance of an experienced attorney when making any decision which might have legal implications.