Discover how you can get the special services for your disabled child in an Individualized Education Plan in Kingston, New York

What is an Individualized Education Plan?

An Individualized Education Plan ("IEP") is a written document that is developed for each eligible preschool and school-age student with a disability.  The purpose of an Individualized Education Plan is twofold: #1: it documents the student's eligibliity for special education services; and #2: it memorializes the school system's plan for providing an education that will meet the student's unique needs.  No document has greater importance to a student with a disability and his parents than an Individualized Education Plan.

An Individualized Education Plan is the guiding document for your child's education plans.  The IEP includes goals, objectives, present levels of performance and services that are recommended for the student.  An IEP describes the special education and related services designed to meet the unique educational needs of a student with a disability.

How is an Individualized Education Plan created?

Under federal law, the group responsible for developing the Individualized Education Plan is known as the "IEP Team".  The IEP Team usually consists of the student's special education teacher, school psychologist and social worker, a general education teacher, a District Representative, the student's therapists (i.e., speech, occupational and physical therapists) and most important, the student's parents.

Near the end of each school year, the IEP Team meets to discuss the student's progress toward goals and the services and therapies that the student will get the following school year.  The IEP Team holds a "collaborative" meeting where the viewpoints and input of each team member is solicited.  Based upon this annual IEP Team meeting, the Individualized Education Plan is created for the student.  The IEP Meeting is a communication vehicle bewteen parents and school personnel.

How you can help your child get the services he needs

In New York, parents have long participated in making eligibility and placement decisions about their children with disabilities.  #1: Parents have the right to receive advance notice of the IEP Team meeting and they have the right to attend the meeting; #2: Parents have the right to receive copies of the evaluations of the IEP Team members before the IEP meeting; #3: Parents are and always will be members of the IEP Team.

What does this mean for you?  You should be armed and ready to attend the IEP annual meeting to get all of the services that your child deserves.  School districts are always trying to cut services, but you are the most important IEP Team member for your child.  Do not just be a passive member of the IEP Meeting. Fight for your child's rights for special services that he needs at the IEP Meeting! 

After the IEP Meeting, you have the right to be provided with your child's IEP.  You have the right to request additional assessments if you disagree with the IEP Team Decision.  You can request a meeting to review or revise your child's Individualized Education Plan. If all else fails, go up the chain of command to the Committee on Special Education to get the services that your child needs.

Remember, if you don't fight for your child, no one else will.  You are your child's most important advocate!

What you can do if you have questions

If you have questions about an Individualized Education Plan, I welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can send me an e-mail at [email protected] .  If you would like to get my newsletter, Your Malpractice Insider, I will be happy to include you on my mailing list at no charge--just send me an e-mail wtih your name and address.