1) What should I do if a child has an IEP but is not making any progress?

Because you feel that your child is not making progress, it is important to request an IEP meeting as soon as possible. At this meeting, there should be a detailed discussion about the type of assistance your child is receiving and for how long each day. You should also ask her teachers if your child is making progress toward meeting her IEP goals and objectives. Request documentation, such as your child's work samples and assessments, to support their claim.

You and the rest of the IEP team may need to rewrite your child's IEP in order to ensure that she is receiving the type and amount of services, accommodations, and modifications she requires to reach her academic potential. Consider bringing a friend or family member with you to the meeting to offer moral support, to be a second set of ears to keep up with all of the information shared during the meeting, and to help keep you focused on what you want to achieve during the meeting. The following articles may give you some other ideas of how you can make the most of this meeting:

Your child's IEP is a legal document that her school must follow. If you do not feel that her IEP is being met or that you and the school can agree on an IEP for your child, then there are steps you can take. The next article outlines what can happen if there is disagreement about the IEP:

You can also contact the Parent Advocacy Resource Center in your state. They may be able to provide you with information, suggestions, and guidance specific to your child's needs.

Parents can be the strongest and most knowledgeable advocates for their children, so trust your instincts and don't give up until your child receives the type of education that she needs and to which she is entitled!

2) I am considering moving to a different state. Can my child, with an active IEP, transfer into another program? Who do I need contact to make this transition?

This article will give you more information on changing locations when you have a child in a special education program.

It is important to plan the move far enough in advance to make sure your child’s current IEP is clear and specific before you go.

3) Can schools change classes of a child with an IEP without parental permission? What are a parent's legal rights in this?

If you are not satisfied with the way the school is handling your child’s needs, you have a right to contest it. An IEP is a legal document and you are a member of the IEP team. The following articles from LD OnLine have information about parental rights that might be useful to you:

If you need additional support, consult with a special education attorney or the school system’s legal counsel for answers to your specific question. It may be time to rewrite the IEP to better reflect your child’s current level of functioning.

4) I am concerned my child's school is not really following her IEP. What can I do about this?

Share your concerns with the IEP team at your child’s school immediately. The following articles from LD OnLine have information about parental rights and the IEP process that might be useful to you.

In addition, you may wish to explore LD OnLine's directory of Parent Advocacy Resource Centers.

Lastly, if your child’s IEP is still not being followed, contact an educational advocate or special education lawyer. LD OnLine has a Yellow Pages directory that might be helpful to you and the Wrightslaw website has useful information. Remember to listen to your instincts and trust that you have tremendous insight and knowledge about your child.

5) How do I know when my child no longer needs an IEP?

Children with IEPs should be reevaluated at least every three years. This evaluation is often called a "triennial." Its purpose is to find out if the child continues to be a "child with a disability," as defined by IDEA, and what the child’s educational needs are.

IDEA was originally enacted by Congress in 1975 to make sure that children with disabilities had the opportunity to receive a free and appropriate public education, just like other children. The law has been revised many times over the years. The most recent amendments were passed by Congress in December 2004. Because the law is continuously changed and updated, school districts must modify how to determine if a child has a disability. Check with your child’s school to see what eligibility criteria they are currently using.

IDEA 2004 states:

  • The local educational agency (your child’s school) is no longer required to consider a severe discrepancy between achievement and intellectual ability in oral expression, listening comprehension, written expression, basic reading skill, reading comprehension, mathematical calculation, or mathematical reasoning.
  • A school may use a process that determines if a child responds to scientific, research-based intervention as a part of the evaluation process.

If informal testing states that a child is working at grade level, the school may feel he or she no longer meets their eligibility criteria. Be an advocate for your child. You are his or her voice at all the meetings you attend. Here are some links to articles that may be helpful.

6) My child has a disability and I would like her to begin physical therapy. Is it possible to have the school district pay for this?

If your child has a disability which requires physical therapy, she should also have an Individualized Education Program (IEP). When an IEP is developed the student has the right to related services, as appropriate, including physical therapy. These are written into the IEP and are provided without cost.

If your child is without an IEP, contact your school's administrator and get the ball rolling on the eligibility process. The following articles describe the steps in the evaluation process:

If your child is ineligible for services or you are dissatisfied with the services provided, you can contact your primary care physician and ask for a referral for physical therapy with a private therapist.

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