When does an IEP end?

When does an IEP end? How do you end an IEP? What is the IEP age range?I know what you’re thinking. “21!” is what you want to yell out. And that’s what I thought.

Then a friend asked me about this. She is a knowledgeable and well-respected advocate. And I think that she was thinking that she was being gaslighted with IEP misinformation.

iep age range

Ok, maybe you’re in Michigan, so then you’re thinking in your head “25!”

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Turns out, it is a state specific special education regulation.

And, it turns out, it is another one of those things that is not specifically listed in IDEA. One of those things that I just assumed was in there. But since I never had to actually look it up before, I didn’t know.

What OSEP says about Ending an IEP

Check out this memo from OSEP from 2002. Yes, it is over a decade old, but the information remains the same.

The letter from OSEP starts out giving guidance about funding, and to what age funding will continue. Then at the bottom, they give a list of all 50 states, and to what age they include that student in Special Education.

I think what is important here is the phrasing of “can include…” which is very different from “must include….” A state can offer FAPE beyond 18, but they are not mandated to do so from IDEA. Your state’s department of education website should have more information. I won’t ramble on and on about this since this is directly from OSEP.

IEP Age Range

If your child is 0-3, then they are served by IDEA Part C and receive an IFSP.

For ages 3-21 and beyond, your child is served by IDEA Part B and has an IEP.

They didn’t ask my opinion when they wrote IDEA. Ha, I was just a baby myself. Honestly, to me, it makes no sense to have the school district ‘take ownership’ of the IEP process at 3. I think it makes more sense if they enter IDEA part B at Kindergarten. But again, they didn’t ask my opinion.

I know until I looked it up myself, I didn’t believe it either when I was told I was going to have to start working with the school district. I mean, these are changes we were preparing when he was only 2!

Here are some myths and misunderstandings about ending an IEP.

We ‘have to’ end the IEP.

If the team is trying to exit a student from an IEP before they are exiting the school district (graduating), evaluations must be done. IDEA is very clear about this. Also, keep in mind that there are no “have tos” with this. And that is something that comes up a lot. “We have to do this….” or “We have to do that…”

No, they don’t. They do not “have to” move the child to a 504 in high school. If the child is being exited from an IEP and they are not graduating, then generally one of two situations has occurred:

  1. They can access and benefit from their education with just accommodations. The student no longer requires specialized instruction or special education to achieve this.
  2. The student has caught up to their peers in skills and abilities and no longer requires special education.

A student can have an IEP up until the day of their graduation, and still get a 504 in college. One does not prohibit the other. A student does not “have to” walk into college with an already prepared 504 from their high school.

And there you go! As always, check your state’s regs for specifics and keep a good paper trail in the event you find yourself in a dispute.

I have all the regs plus the IDEA booklet below.

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