Individualized Education Programs(IEPs) are for children with disabilities. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), every public school child who receives special education must have an IEP.

Who Makes the IEP?

School administrators, teachers, parents, and any other individuals that the school or the parents want to include (such as doctors or therapists) all work together to create an IEP that satisfies the needs of the child. The school cannot just prepare an IEP. Parents must be active participants in developing an education plan for their child.

How Is the IEP Made?

Once a child is found eligible for special education the school staff schedules an IEP meeting. Parents, school staff, and other necessary people get together to discuss and plan the best way to meet the educational needs of the child.

What Must an IEP Include?

An IEP must include:

  • The child's current educational status: including behavior, physical ability, and cognitive ability
  • The goals and objectives the parents and teachers have for the child's education
  • Whether the child will be "mainstreamed" into a regular class or be placed in alternative settings such as special classes or vocational training programs
  • For children 14 and older, the IEP must also consider the vocational and post-high-school placement needs of the child

What Happens once the IEP Has Been Made?

  • The plan is put into practice and the child's progress is measured
  • The IEP is reviewed once a year, or more at the parents' request
  • At least once every 3 years, the child is re-evaluated to determine if he still qualifies as an individual with a disability, and to reevaluate educational needs
  • The IEP can be revised at any time if all parties agree to a revision

What if I Don't Agree with My Child's IEP?

If you do not agree with your child's IEP you can:

  • Discuss your concerns with the school staff and try to work out an agreement
  • Request mediation
  • File a complaint with the state education agency
  • Request a due process hearing and present evidence to a judge who will issue an order stating his decision - only parents of disabled children have the right to take a dispute with the school to a neutral third party

Should I Contact a Lawyer about My Child's IEP?

If you disagree with your child's IEP, you may want to speak to a lawyer specializing in education and schools. A government lawyer can help you understand your options and guide you through a mediation or due process hearing.