Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1401, et seq.),
Unless otherwise noted.
Interpretation of Individualized Education Program (IEP) Requirements
of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
The IEP requirements of the IDEA emphasize the importance of each child with a disabilitys involvement and progress in the general curriculum; of the involvement of parents and students, together with regular and special education personnel in making individualized decisions to support each childs educational success; and of preparing students with disabilities for employment and other post-school experiences.
In enacting the IDEA Amendments of 1997, the Congress found that: * * * research, demonstration, and practice [over the past 20 years] in special education and related disciplines have demonstrated that an effective educational system now and in the future must--
1. What are the major Part B IEP requirements that govern the involvement and progress of children with disabilities in the general curriculum?
Present Levels of
Section 300.347(a)(1) requires that the IEP for each child with a disability include "* * * a statement of the childs present levels of educational performance, including--
Goals, Including Benchmarks or Short-term
Measurable annual goals, including benchmarks or short-term objectives, are instrumental to the strategic planning process used to develop and implement the IEP for each child with a disability.
Special Education and
Related Services and Supplementary Aids and
The requirements regarding services provided to address a childs present levels of educational performance and to make progress toward the identified goals reinforce the emphasis on progress in the general curriculum, as well as maximizing the extent to which children with disabilities are educated with nondisabled children.
Extent to Which Child
Will Participate With Nondisabled
Section 300.347(a)(4) requires that each childs IEP include "* * * an explanation of the extent, if any, to which the child will not participate with nondisabled children in the regular class and in [extracurricular and other nonacademic] activities] * * " This is consistent with the least restrictive environment provisions at Secs. 300.550-300.553, which include requirements that:
Participation in State or District-wide Assessments of Student Achievement
Consistent with Sec. 300.138(a), which sets forth a presumption that children with disabilities will be included in general State-and district-wide assessment programs, and provided with appropriate accommodations if necessary, Sec. 300.347(a)(5) requires that the IEP for each student with a disability include:(i) A statement of any individual modifications in the administration of State or district-wide assessments of student achievement that are needed in order for the child to participate in the assessment; and
Regular Education Teacher Participation in the Development, Review, and Revision of IEPs
Very often, regular education teachers play a central role in the education of children with disabilities (House Report No. 105- 95, p. 103 (1997)) and have important expertise regarding the general curriculum and the general education environment. Further, especially with the emphasis on involvement and progress in the general curriculum added by the IDEA Amendments of 1997, regular education teachers have an increasingly critical role in implementing, together with special education and related services personnel, the program of FAPE for most children with disabilities, as described in their IEPs.
2. Must a childs IEP address his or her involvement in the general curriculum, regardless of the nature and severity of the childs disability and the setting in which the child is educated?
Yes. The IEP for all children with disabilities must address how the child will be involved and progress in the general curriculum, as described. The Part B regulations recognize that some children with disabilities will have some educational needs that result from their disabilities that cannot be fully met by involvement and progress in the general curriculum; accordingly,
3. What must
public agencies do to meet the requirements at Secs.
300.344(a)(2) and 300.346(d), regarding the participation of
a "regular education teacher" in the development and review
of the IEP, for children aged 3 through 5 who are receiving
preschool special education
If a public agency provides "regular education" preschool services to nondisabled children, then the requirements of Secs. 300.344(a)(2) and 300.346(d) apply as they do in the case of older children with disabilities. If a public agency makes kindergarten available to nondisabled children, then a regular education kindergarten teacher could appropriately be the regular education teacher who would participate in an IEP meeting for a kindergarten-aged child who is, or may be, participating in the regular education environment.
4. Must the measurable
annual goals in a childs IEP address all areas of the
general curriculum, or only those areas in which the
childs involvement and progress are affected by the
Section 300.347(a)(2) requires that each childs IEP include a
One of the key purposes of the IDEA Amendments of 1997 is to "Expand and promote opportunities for parents, special education, related services, regular education, and early intervention service providers, and other personnel to work in new partnerships at both the State and local levels (House Report 105-95, p. 82 (1997)).
5. What is the role of the parents, including surrogate parents, in decisions regarding the educational program of their children?
The parents of a child with a
disability are expected to be equal participants
along with school personnel, in developing, reviewing,
and revising the IEP for their child. This is an active role
in which the parents
(1) provide critical information about their childs abilities, interests, performance, and history,
As noted, Part B specifically provides that parents have the right to:
(a) Participate in meetings about their childs identification, evaluation, educational program (including IEP meetings), and educational placement (Secs. 300.344(a)(1) and 300.517);
(b) Be part of the teams that determine what additional data are needed as part of an evaluation of their child (Sec. 300.533(a)(1)), and determine their childs eligibility (Sec. 300.534(a)(1)) and educational placement (Sec. 300.501(c));
(c) Have their concerns and information that they provide regarding their child considered in developing and reviewing their childs IEPs (Secs. 300.343(c)(iii) and 300.346 (a)(1)(i) and (b)); and
(d) Be regularly informed (by such means as periodic report cards), as specified in their childs IEP, at least as often as parents are informed of their nondisabled childrens progress, of their childs progress toward the annual goals in the IEP and the extent to which that progress is sufficient to enable the child to achieve the goals by the end of the year (Sec. 300.347(a)(7)).
A surrogate parent is a person appointed to represent the interests of a child with a disability in the educational decision- making process when no parent (as defined at Sec. 300.19) is known, the agency, after reasonable efforts, cannot locate the childs parents, or the child is a ward of the State under the laws of the State. A surrogate parent has all of the rights and responsibilities of a parent under Part B. Thus, the surrogate parent is entitled to
(1) participate in the childs IEP meeting,
(2) examine the childs education records, and
(3) receive notice, grant
consent, and invoke due process to resolve differences. (See
Sec. 300.515, Surrogate parents.)
6. What are the Part B requirements regarding the participation of a child or youth with a disability in an IEP meeting?
If a purpose of an IEP meeting will be the consideration of needed transition services, the public agency must invite the student and, as part of notification to the parent of the IEP meeting, inform the parents that the agency will invite the student to the IEP meeting. If the student does not attend, the public agency must take other steps to ensure that the students preferences and interests are considered. Section Sec. 300.517 permits States to transfer procedural rights under Part B from the parents to students with disabilities who reach the age of majority under State law, but who have not been determined to be incompetent under State law. If procedural rights under Part B are, consistent with State law and Sec. 300.517, transferred from the parents to the student, the public agency would be required to ensure that the student has the right to participate in IEP meetings set forth for parents in Sec. 300.345.
However, at the discretion of the student or the public agency, the parents also could attend IEP meetings as "individuals who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the child * * *" (see Sec. 300.344(a)(6)). In other circumstances, the child may attend "if appropriate." (Sec. 300.344(a)(7))
Generally, a child with a disability should attend the IEP meeting if the parent decides that it is appropriate for the child to do so. If possible, the agency and parents should discuss the appropriateness of the childs participation before a decision is made, in order to help the parents determine whether or not the childs attendance will be
(1) helpful in developing the IEP or
(2) directly beneficial to the child or both.
The agency should inform the parents before each IEP
meetingas part of notification under Sec.
300.345(a)(1) that they may invite their child to
7. Must the public agency let the parents know who will be at the IEP meeting?
Yes. In notifying parents about the meeting, the agency
"must indicate the purpose, time, and location of the
meeting, and who will be in attendance." (Sec. 300.345(b),
8. Do parents have the right to a copy of their childs IEP?
Yes. Section 300.345(f) states that the public agency
shall give the parent, on request, a copy of the IEP. It is
recommended that public agencies provide parents with a copy
of the IEP within a reasonable time following the IEP
meeting, or inform them at the IEP meeting of their right to
request and receive a copy.
9. What is a public agencys responsibility if it is not possible to reach consensus on what services should be included in a childs IEP?
The IEP meeting serves as a communication vehicle between parents and school personnel, and enables them, as equal participants, to make joint, informed decisions regarding the childs needs and appropriate goals, the extent to which the child will be involved in the general curriculum and participate in the regular education environment and State and districtwide assessments, and the services needed to support that involvement and participation and to achieve agreed-upon goals.
Parents are to be equal partners with school personnel in making these decisions, and the IEP team must consider parents concerns and information that they provide regarding their child in developing and reviewing IEPs (Secs. 300.343(c)(iii) and 300.346(a)(1) and (b)).
The IEP team should work toward consensus, but the public agency has ultimate responsibility to ensure that the IEP includes the services that the child needs in order to receive FAPE. If it is not possible to reach consensus in an IEP meeting, the public agency must provide the parents with prior written notice of the agencys proposals or refusals, or both, regarding the childs educational program and placement, and the parents have the right to seek resolution of any disagreements through mediation or other informal means, or by initiating an impartial due process hearing.
Every effort should be made to resolve differences
between parents and school staff through voluntary mediation
or some other informal step, without resort to a due process
hearing. However, mediation or other informal procedures may
not be used to deny or delay a parents right to a due
10. Does Part B require that public agencies inform parents regarding the educational progress of their children with disabilities?
Yes, the Part B statute and regulations include a number of provisions to help ensure that parents are involved in decisions regarding, and informed about, their childs educational progress, including the childs progress in the general curriculum.
First, the parents will be informed regarding their childs present levels of educational performance through the development of the IEP. Section 300.347(a)(1) requires that each IEP include:
* * * a statement of
the childs present levels of educational performance,
Further, Sec. 300.347(a)(7) sets forth requirements for
regularly informing parents about their childs
educational progress. That Section requires that the IEP
include: * * * a statement of--
Finally, the parents will, as part of the IEP team, participate, at least once every 12 months, in a review of their childs educational progress. Part B requires that a public agency initiate and conduct a meeting, at which the IEP team: * * *
(1) Reviews the childs IEP
periodically, but not less than annually to determine
whether the annual goals for the child are being achieved;
and Other Post-School Experiences
One of the primary purposes of the IDEA is to "* * * ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for employment and independent living * * *" (Sec. 300.1(a)).
Similarly, one of the key purposes of the IDEA Amendments of 1997 was to "promote improved educational results for children with disabilities through early intervention, preschool, and educational experiences that prepare them for later educational challenges and employment." (House Report No. 105-95, p. 82 (1997).)
Thus, throughout their preschool, elementary, and Secondary education, the IEP for each child with a disability must, to the extent appropriate for the individual child, focus on providing instruction and experiences that enable the child to prepare himself or herself for later educational experiences and for post-school activities, including formal education, if appropriate, employment, and independent living.
Although preparation for adult life is, as explained, a
key component of a free appropriate public education
throughout a childs educational experiences, Part B
sets forth specific requirements for transition from
Secondary education to post-school activities, which must be
implemented no later than age 14 and 16, respectively, which
require an intensified focus on that preparation as students
with disabilities begin and prepare to complete their
11. What must the IEP team do to meet the requirements that the IEP include "a statement of * * * transition service needs" beginning at age 14 (Sec. 300.347(b)(1)(i))," and a statement of needed transition services" no later than age 16 (Sec. 300.347(b)(1)(ii))?
Section 300.347(b)(1) requires that, beginning no later than age 14, each students IEP include specific transition-related content, and, beginning no later than age 16, a statement of needed transition services:
Beginning at age 14, each students IEP must include "* * * a statement of the transition service needs of the child under the applicable components of the childs IEP that focuses on the childs courses of study (such as participation in advanced-placement courses or a vocational education program)" (Sec. 300.347(b)(1)(i)).
No later than age 16 (and younger, if determined appropriate by the IEP Team), each students IEP must include "a statement of needed transition services for the child, including, if appropriate, a statement of the interagency responsibilities or any needed linkages * * " (Sec. 300.347(b)(1)(ii)).
The House Report on the IDEA Amendments of 1997 makes clear that the requirement added to the statute in 1997 that beginning at age 14, or younger if appropriate, the IEP include "a statement of the transition service needs" is " * * designed to augment, and not replace," the separate, preexisting requirement that the IEP include, "* * * beginning at age 16 (or younger, if determined appropriate by the IEP Team), a statement of needed transition services * * *" (House Report No. 105-95, p. 102 (1997).)
As clarified by the Report, "The purpose of [the requirement in Sec. 300.347(b)(1)(i)] is to focus attention on how the childs educational program can be planned to help the child make a successful transition to his or her goals for life after Secondary school." (House Report No. 105-95, pp. 101-102 (1997).) The report further explains that "[F]or example, for a child whose transition goal is a job, a transition service could be teaching the child how to get to the job site on public transportation." (House Report No. 105-95, p-102 (1997).)
Thus, beginning at age 14, the IEP team, in determining appropriate measurable annual goals (including benchmarks or short-term objectives) and services for a student, must determine what instruction and educational experiences will assist the student to prepare for transition from Secondary education to post-Secondary life. The statement of transition service needs should relate directly to the students goals beyond Secondary education, and show how planned studies are linked to these goals. For example, a student interested in exploring a career in computer science may have a statement of transition service needs connected to technology course work, while another students statement of transition needs could describe why public bus transportation training is important for future independence in the community. Though the focus of the transition planning process may shift as the student approaches graduation, the IEP team must discuss specific areas beginning at the age of 14 years and review these areas annually.
This requirement is distinct from the requirement, at
Sec. 300.347(b)(1)(ii), that the IEP include: * * *
beginning at age 16 (or younger, if determined appropriate
by the IEP Team), a statement of needed transition services
for the child, including, if appropriate, a statement of the
interagency responsibilities or any needed
(a) Is designed within an outcome-oriented process, that promotes movement from school to post-school activities, including postsecondary education, vocational training, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation;
(b) Is based on the individual students needs, taking into account the students preferences and interests; and
(Sec. 300.347(b)(2) provides, however, that, "If the IEP team determines that services are not needed in one or more of the areas specified in Sec. 300.27((c)(1) through (4), the IEP must include a statement to that effect and the basis upon which the determination was made.) Thus, while Sec. 300.347(b)(1)(i) requires that the IEP team begin by age 14 to address the [[Page 55127]] students need for instruction that will assist the student to prepare for transition, Sec. 300.347(b)(2)(ii) requires that by age 16 the IEP include a "coordinated set of activities * * *, designed within an outcome-oriented process, that promotes movement from school to post-school activities. * * "
Section 300.344(b)(3) further requires that, in
implementing Sec. 300.347(b)(2)(ii), public agencies invite
(in addition to required participants for all IEP meetings),
must also invite a representative of any other agency that
is likely to be responsible for providing or paying for
transition services. Thus, Sec. 300.346(a)(7)(ii) requires a
broader focus on coordination of services across, and
linkages between, agencies beyond the SEA and LEA.
12. Must the IEP for each student with a disability, beginning no later than age 16, include all "needed transition services," as identified by the IEP team and consistent with the definition at Sec. 300.27, even if an agency other than the public agency will provide those services? What is the public agencys responsibility if another agency fails to provide agreed-upon transition services?
Section 300.347(b)(1)(ii) requires that the IEP for each child with a disability, beginning no later than age 16, or younger if determined appropriate by the IEP team, include all "needed transition services," as identified by the IEP team and consistent with the definition at Sec. 300.27, regardless of whether the public agency or some other agency will provide those services. Section 300.346(b)(1)(ii) specifically requires that the statement of needed transition services include, " * * if appropriate, a statement of the interagency responsibilities or any needed linkages."
Further, the need to include in the IEP transition services to be provided by agencies other than the public agency is contemplated by Sec. 300.348(a), which specifies what the public agency must do if another agency participating in the development of the statement of needed transition services fails to provide a needed transition service that it agreed to provide: If a participating agency fails to provide agreed-upon transition services contained in the IEP of a student with a disability, the public agency responsible for the students education shall, as soon as possible, initiate a meeting for the purpose of identifying alternative strategies to meet the transition objectives and, if necessary, revising the students IEP.
This requirement is consistent with the public agencys ultimate responsibility to ensure that FAPE is available to each eligible child with a disability (see Sec. 300.300). That responsibility includes the planning and coordination of transition services through the IEP. This inter-agency planning and coordination may be supported through a variety of mechanisms, including memoranda of understanding, interagency agreements, assignment of a transition coordinator to work with other participating agencies, or the establishment of guidelines to work with other agencies identified as potential service providers. If an agreed-upon service by another agency is not provided, the public agency responsible for the student must exercise alternative strategies to meet the students needs. This requires that the public agency provide the services, or convene an IEP meeting as soon as possible to identify alternative strategies to meet the needs of the transition services needs of the student, and to revise the IEP accordingly.
Alternative strategies might include the identification of another funding source, referral to another agency, the public agencys identification of other district-wide or community resources that it can use to meet the students identified need appropriately, or a combination of these strategies. As emphasized by Sec. 300.348(b), however: Nothing in [Part B] relieves any participating agency, including a State vocational rehabilitation agency, of the responsibility to provide or pay for any transition service that the agency would otherwise provide to students with disabilities who meet the eligibility criteria of that agency. However, the fact that an agency other than the LEA does not fulfill its responsibility does not relieve the LEA of its responsibility to ensure that FAPE is available to each student with a disability.
Note: See also Sec. 300.142(b)(2), which requires that if
an agency other than the LEA fails to provide or pay for a
special education or related service (which could include a
transition service), the LEA must provide or pay for the
service, and may then claim reimbursement from the agency
that failed to provide or pay for the service.
13. Under what circumstances must a public agency invite representatives from other agencies to an IEP meeting at which a childs need for transition services will be considered?
Section 300.344(c)(ii) requires that, "In implementing the requirements of [Sec. 300.347(b)(1)(ii) requiring a statement of needed transition services], the public agency shall also invite a representative of any other agency that is likely to be responsible for providing or paying for transition services."
To meet this requirement, the public agency must
establish and implement appropriate procedures to ensure
that it identifies all agencies that are "likely to be
responsible for providing or paying for transition services"
for each student addressed by Sec. 300.347(b)(1)(ii), and
invites each of those agencies to the IEP meeting. If,
during the course of an IEP meeting, the team identifies
additional agencies that are "likely to be responsible for
providing or paying for transition services" for the
student, the public agency must determine whether it is
necessary to invite those agencies to an additional IEP
meeting in order to develop an appropriate statement of
needed transition services for the student.
14. For a child with a disability receiving special education for the first time, when must an IEP be developedbefore placement or after placement?
Section 300.342(b)(1) requires that an IEP be "in effect before special education and related services are provided to a child." (Italics added.)
The appropriate placement for a particular child with a disability cannot be determined until after decisions have been made about the childs needs and the services that the public agency will provide to meet those needs. These decisions must be made at the IEP meeting, and it would not be permissible first to place the child and then develop the IEP.
Therefore, the IEP must be developed before placement.
This requirement does not preclude temporarily placing an eligible child with a disability in a program as part of the evaluation processbefore the IEP is finalizedto assist a public agency in determining the appropriate placement for the child.
It is essential that the temporary placement not become the final placement before the IEP is finalized. In order to ensure that this does not happen, the State might consider requiring LEAs to take the following actions:
a. Develop an interim IEP for the child that sets out the specific conditions and timelines for the trial placement. (See paragraph c.)
b. Ensure that the parents agree to the interim placement before it is carried out, and that they are involved throughout the process of developing, reviewing, and revising the childs IEP.
c. Set a specific timeline (e.g., 30 days) for completing the evaluation, finalizing the IEP, and making judgments about the most appropriate placement for the child.
d. Conduct an IEP meeting at the
end of the trial period in order to finalize the
15. Who is responsible for ensuring the development of IEPs for children with disabilities served by a public agency other than an LEA?
The answer as to which public agency has direct responsibility for ensuring the development of IEPs for children with disabilities served by a public agency other than an LEA will vary from State to State, depending upon State law, policy, or practice.
The SEA is ultimately responsible for ensuring that all Part B requirements, including the IEP requirements, are met for eligible children within the State, including those children served by a public agency other than an LEA. (See Sec. 300.600 regarding the SEAs general supervisory responsibility for all education programs for children with disabilities, with one exception. The Governor (or another individual pursuant to State law) may, consistent with State law, assign to any public agency in the State the responsibility of ensuring that Part B requirements are met with respect to children with disabilities who are convicted as adults under State law and incarcerated in adult prisons.)
The SEA must ensure that every
child with a disability in the State has FAPE available,
regardless of which State or local agency is
responsible for educating the child. (The only exception to
this responsibility is that, as noted, the SEA is not
responsible for ensuring that FAPE is made available to
children with disabilities who are convicted as adults under
State law and incarcerated in adult prisons, if the State
has assigned that responsibility to a public agency other
than the SEA.) Although the SEA has flexibility in deciding
the best means to meet this obligation (e.g., through
interagency agreements), the SEA must ensure that no
eligible child with a disability is denied FAPE due to
jurisdictional disputes among agencies. When an LEA is
responsible for the education of a child with a disability,
the LEA remains responsible for developing the childs
IEP, regardless of the public or private school setting into
which it places the child.
16. For a child placed out of State by an educational or non- educational State or local agency, is the placing or receiving State responsible for the childs IEP?
Regardless of the reason for the placement, the "placing"
State is responsible for developing the childs IEP and
ensuring that it is implemented. The determination of the
specific agency in the placing State that is responsible for
the childs IEP would be based on State law, policy, or
practice. However, the SEA in the placing State is
responsible for ensuring that the child has FAPE
17. If a disabled child has been receiving special education from one public agency and transfers to another public agency in the same State, must the new public agency develop an IEP before the child can be placed in a special education program?
If a child with a disability changes school districts in the same State, the State and its public agencies have an ongoing responsibility to ensure that the child receives FAPE, and the new public agency is responsible for ensuring that the child receives special education and related services in conformity with an IEP.
The new public agency must ensure that the child has an IEP in effect before the agency can provide special education and related services. The new public agency may meet this responsibility by either adopting the IEP the former public agency developed for the child or by developing a new IEP for the child.
Before the childs IEP is finalized, the new public agency may provide interim services agreed upon by both the parents and the new public agency. If the parents and the new public agency are unable to agree on an interim IEP and placement, the new public agency must implement the old IEP to the extent possible until a new IEP is developed and implemented.
In general, while the new public agency must conduct an IEP meeting, it would not be necessary if:
(1) A copy of the childs current IEP is available;
(2) the parents indicate that they are satisfied with the current IEP; and
(3) the new public agency determines that the current IEP is appropriate and can be implemented as written.
If the childs current IEP is not available, or if
either the new public agency or the parent believes that it
is not appropriate, the new public agency must conduct an
IEP meeting within a short time after the child enrolls in
the new public agency (normally, within one week).
18. What timelines apply to the development and implementation of an initial IEP for a child with a disability?
Section 300.343(b) requires a public agency to:
(1) Ensure that an offer of services in accordance with an IEP is made to parents within a reasonable period of time from the agencys receipt of parent consent to an initial evaluation; and
(2) in meeting that timeline, conduct a meeting to
develop the IEP within 30-calendar days of a
determination that the child needs special education and
related services. Section 300.342(b)(2) requires that an IEP
be implemented as soon as possible following the meeting in
which the IEP is developed.
19. Must a public agency hold separate meetings to determine a childs eligibility for special education and related services, develop the childs IEP, and determine the childs placement, or may the agency meet all of these requirements in a single meeting?
A public agency may, after a child is determined by "a team of qualified professionals and the parent" (see Sec. 300.534(a)(1)) to be a child with a disability who needs special education services, continue in the same meeting to develop an IEP for the child and to determine the childs placement. However, the public agency must ensure that it:
(1) Meets all of the Part B requirements regarding meetings to develop IEPs, including providing appropriate notification to the parents, consistent with the requirements of Sec. 300.345, and including the required team participants, consistent with the requirements of Sec. 300.344; and
(2) the requirements of Sec. 300.533 regarding
20. How frequently must a public agency conduct meetings to review, and if appropriate revise, the IEP for each child with a disability?
A public agency must initiate and conduct meetings periodically, but at least once every twelve months, to determine whether the annual goals for the child are being achieved, and to revise the IEP as appropriate to address:
(a) Any lack of expected progress toward the annual goals and in the general curriculum, if appropriate;
(b) the results of any reevaluation;
(c) information about the child provided to, or by, the parents;
(d) the childs anticipated needs; or
(e) other matters (Sec. 300.343(c)).
A public agency must also ensure that an IEP is in effect for each child at the beginning of each school year (Sec. 300.342(a)). It may conduct IEP meetings at any time during the year. However, if the agency conducts the IEP meeting prior to the beginning of the next school year, it must ensure that the IEP contains the necessary special education and related services and supplementary aids and services to ensure that the students IEP can be appropriately implemented during the next school year. Otherwise, it would be necessary for the public agency to conduct another IEP meeting.
Although the public agency is responsible for determining when it is necessary to conduct an IEP meeting, the parents of a child with a disability have the right to request an IEP meeting at any time. For example, if the parents believe that the child is not progressing satisfactorily or that there is a problem with the childs current IEP, it would be appropriate for the parents to request an IEP meeting. If a childs teachers feels that the childs placement or IEP services are not appropriate to the child, the teachers should follow agency procedures with respect to
(1) calling or meeting with the parents or
(2) requesting the agency to hold another IEP meeting to review the childs IEP.
The legislative history of Public
Law 94-142 makes it clear that there should be as many
meetings a year as any one child may need (121 Cong.
Rec. S20428-29 (Nov. 19, 1975) (remarks of Senator
If a parent requests an IEP meeting
because the parent believes that a change in the
provision of FAPE to the child or the educational placement
of the child, and the agency refuses to convene an IEP
meeting to determine whether such a change is needed, the
agency must provide written notice to the parents of the
refusal, including an explanation of why the agency has
determined that conducting the meeting is not necessary to
ensure the provision of FAPE to the student. Under Sec.
300.506(a), the parents or agency may initiate a due process
hearing at any time regarding any proposal or refusal
regarding the identification, evaluation, or educational
placement of the child, or the provision of FAPE to the
21. May IEP meetings be audio or video-tape-recorded?
Part B does not address the use of audio or video recording devices at IEP meetings, and no other Federal statute either authorizes or prohibits the recording of an IEP meeting by either a parent or a school official. Therefore, an SEA or public agency has the option to require, prohibit, limit, or otherwise regulate the use of recording devices at IEP meetings.
If a public agency has a policy prohibiting the use of these devices at IEP meetings, that policy must provide for exceptions if they are necessary to ensure that the parent understands the IEP or the IEP process or to implement other parental rights guaranteed under Part B.
Any recording of an IEP meeting that is maintained by the
public agency is an "education record," within the meaning
of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act ("FERPA";
20 U.S.C. 1232g), and would, therefore, be subject to the
confidentiality requirements of the regulations under both
FERPA (34 CFR Part 99) and Part B (Secs. 300.560-300.575).
Parents wishing to use audio or video recording devices at
IEP meetings should consult State or local policies for
22. Who can serve as the representative of the public agency at an IEP meeting?
The IEP team must include a representative of the local educational agency who:
(a) Is qualified to provide, or supervise the provision of, specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of children with disabilities;
(b) is knowledgeable about the general curriculum; and
(c) is knowledgeable about the availability of resources of the local educational agency (Sec. 300.344(a)(4)).
Each State or local agency may determine which specific staff member will serve as the agency representative in a particular IEP meeting, so long as the individual meets these requirements. It is, however, important that the agency representative have the authority to commit agency resources and be able to ensure that whatever services are set out in the IEP will actually be provided.
Note: IEP meetings for continuing placements may in some
instances be more routine than those for initial placements,
and, thus, may not require the participation of a key
23. For a child with a disability being considered for initial placement in special education, which teacher or teachers should attend the IEP meeting?
A childs IEP team must include at least one of the students regular education teachers (if the child is, or may be participating in the regular education environment) and at least one special education teacher, or, if appropriate, at least one of the childs special education providers (Sec. 300.344(a)(2) and (3)).
Each IEP must include a statement of present levels of educational performance, including a statement of how the childs disability affects the childs involvement and progress in the general curriculum (Sec. 300.347(a)(1)).
The regular education
teacher is a required participant on the IEP team of a
child who is, or may be, participating in the regular
educational environment, regardless of the extent of that
(1) a teacher qualified to provide special education in
the childs area of suspected disability, or
Note: Sometimes more than one meeting is necessary in
order to finalize a childs IEP. In this process, if
the special education teacher who will be working with the
child is identified, it would be useful to have that teacher
participate in the meeting with the parents and other
members of the IEP team in finalizing the IEP. If this is
not possible, the agency should ensure that the teacher is
given a copy of the childs IEP as soon as possible
after the IEP is finalized and before the teacher begins
working with the child.
24. If a child with a disability attends several regular classes, must all of the childs regular education teachers attend the IEP meeting?
No. The IEP team need not include more than one regular
education teacher of the child. If the participation of more
than one regular education teacher is considered by the
agency or the parents to be beneficial to the childs
success in school (e.g., in terms of enhancing the
childs participation in the general curriculum), it
would be appropriate for them to attend the
25. For a child whose primary disability is a speech impairment, may a public agency meet its responsibility under Sec. 300.344(a)(3) to ensure that the IEP team includes "at least one special education teacher, or, if appropriate, at least one special education provider of the child" by including a speech-language pathologist in the IEP team?
Yes, if speech is considered special education under
State standards. As with other children with disabilities,
the IEP team must also include at least one of the
childs regular education teachers if the child is, or
may be, participating in the regular education
26. Do public agencies and parents have the option of bringing any individual of their choice to a students IEP meeting? Would it be permissible for other individuals to attend IEP meetings at the discretion of the parents or the agency?
The IEP team may, at the discretion of the parent or the agency, include "other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the child * * * " (Sec. 300.344(a)(6), italics added). This is a change from prior law, which had provided, without qualification, that parents or agencies could bring other individuals to IEP meetings at the discretion of the parents or agency.
However, the legislative history of Public Law 94-142 made it clear that attendance at IEP meetings should be limited to those who have an intense interest in the child. (121 Cong. Rec. S10974 (June 18, 1975) (remarks of Sen. Randolph).) Part B does not provide for the participation of individuals such as representatives of teacher organizations or attorneys at IEP meetings.
For example, since a representative of a teacher organization would be concerned with the interests of the teacher rather than the interests of the child, and generally would not possess knowledge or expertise regarding the child, it generally would be inappropriate for such an official to attend an IEP meeting.
While either the parent or public agency may consider inviting their attorneys to an IEP meeting, parents and public agencies need to ensure that their attorneys possess knowledge and expertise regarding the child to warrant their participation. However, the participation of attorneys at IEP meetings should be discouraged if their participation would have the potential for creating an adversarial atmosphere which would not necessarily be in the best interests of the child.
Further, as provided in Section 615(i)(3)(D)(ii) of the
Act, "Attorneys" fees may not be awarded relating to any
meeting of the IEP Team unless such meeting is convened as a
result of an administrative proceeding or judicial action,
or, at the discretion of the State, for a mediation * * *
conducted prior to the [request for a due process
27. Must related services personnel attend IEP meetings?
Although Part B does not expressly require that the IEP team include related services personnel as part of the IEP team (Sec. 300.344(a)), it is appropriate for those persons to be included if a particular related service is to be discussed as part of the IEP meeting. Section 300.344(a)(6) provides that the IEP team also includes "at the discretion of the parent or the agency, other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the child, including related services personnel as appropriate * * *." (Italics added.)
Further, Sec. 300.344(a)(3) requires that the IEP team for each child with a disability include "at least one special education teacher, or, if appropriate, at least one special education provider of the child * * * " This requirement can be met by the participation of either (1) a special education teacher of the child, or (2) another special education provider such as a speech pathologist, physical or occupational therapist, etc., if the related service consists of specially designed instruction and is considered special education under the applicable State standard.
If a child with a disability has an identified need for related services, it would be appropriate for the related services personnel to attend the meeting or otherwise be involved in developing the IEP. As explained in the House Report on the IDEA Amendments of 1997, "Related services personnel should be included on the team when a particular related service will be discussed at the request of the childs parents or the school." (House Report 105-95, p. 103 (1997).)
For example, if the childs evaluation indicates the
need for a specific related service (e.g., physical therapy,
occupational therapy, special transportation services,
school social work services, school health services, or
counseling), the agency should ensure that a qualified
provider of that service either (1) attends the IEP meeting,
or (2) provides a written recommendation concerning the
nature, frequency, and amount of service to be provided to
the child. This written recommendation could be a part of
the evaluation report.
28. Must the public agency ensure that all services specified in a childs IEP are provided?
Yes. The public agency must ensure that all services set
forth in the childs IEP are provided, consistent with
the childs needs as identified in the IEP. It may
provide each of those services directly, through its own
staff resources; indirectly, by contracting with another
public or private agency; or through other
29. Is it permissible for an agency to have the IEP completed before the IEP meeting begins?
No. Agency staff may come to an IEP meeting prepared with evaluation findings and proposed recommendations regarding IEP content, but the agency must make it clear to the parents at the outset of the meeting that the services proposed by the agency are only recommendations for review and discussion with the parents.
Agencies that use this approach must ensure that there is
a full discussion with the parents of the childs needs
and the services to be provided to meet those needs before
the childs IEP is finalized.
30. Must a public agency include transportation in a childs IEP as a related service?
A public agency must provide transportation as a related service if it is required to assist the disabled child to benefit from special education. (This includes transporting a preschool-aged child to the site at which the public agency provides special education and related services to the child, if that site is different from the site at which the child receives other preschool or daycare services.)
In determining whether to include transportation in a childs IEP, the IEP team must consider how the childs disability affects the childs need for transportation, including determining whether the childs disability prevents the child from using the same transportation provided to nondisabled children, or from getting to school in the same manner as nondisabled children.
The public agency must ensure that any transportation service included in a childs IEP as a related service is provided at public expense and at no cost to the parents, and that the childs IEP describes the transportation arrangement.
Even if a childs IEP team
determines that the child does not require transportation as
a related service, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act
of 1973 requires that the child receive the same
transportation provided to nondisabled children. If a
public agency transports nondisabled children, it must
transport disabled children under the same terms and
conditions. However, if a childs IEP team determines
that a student does not need transportation as a related
service, and the public agency transports only those
children whose IEPs specify transportation as a related
service, and does not transport nondisabled children, the
public agency would not be required to provide
transportation to a disabled child.
31. Must a public agency provide related services that are required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education, whether or not those services are included in the list of related services in Sec. 300.16?
The Note following Sec. 300.16 clarifies that "The list
of related services is not exhaustive and may include other
developmental, corrective, or supportive services * * * ),
if they are required to assist a child with a disability to
benefit from special education." This could, depending upon
the unique needs of a child, include such services as
nutritional services or service coordination.
32. Must the IEP specify the amount of services or may it simply list the services to be provided?
The amount of services to be provided must be stated in
the IEP, so that the level of the agencys commitment
of resources will be clear to parents and other IEP team
members. The amount of time to be committed to each of the
various services to be provided must be
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