How to get an IEP.
- Gather your thoughts about your child and their struggles at school.
- Decide if meeting with the teacher is appropriate to discuss these concerns.
- Formalize those concerns into a letter to the school.
- Write a letter to your school (teacher and principal) asking that your child be evaluated for Special Education services.
Requesting an IEP
Are you trying to get an IEP for autism, anxiety or ADHD? It doesn’t matter, the process is the same. It’s kinda weird that I have a blog about IEPs, and I’ve never done a post on how to request an IEP. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in IEP issues and helping parents solve problems, that I forget that there are many people out there who are still trying to figure out how to get one. If you want to know how to get an IEP for your child, this is for you!
The first thing to remember is, you are not asking for an IEP. You are asking that your child is evaluated for special education services. IEPs are needs-based. If there are not any identified needs, you will not get an IEP.
For the rest of you, I’m going to keep it simple. If you need the whole truckload of IEP information, you can find it here on this blog. But I’m not going to overwhelm you with that right now. It will be here whenever you’re ready to dig deep. —>Everything a Mom Needs to know about IEPs
How to Request an IEP
The first step, and the most important thing. And don’t ever let go of this concept. Everything in writing, always.
- Get everything in writing. Everything. Start now, get in the habit of writing and documenting everything. Your first step is going to be to send a written request. My advice would be to send it to the school principal, with your child’s teacher getting a copy of it. CC them on it.
- Be very clear about what you are requesting. State very clearly: I wish to have my child evaluated for special education services or accommodations. No gray areas. Not “hey, I think she’s struggling in school, is there something we can do?” Direct request. If you do otherwise, it will only drag out the process.
- If you’re not positive you need special ed, there are other options. Maybe you’re not quite ready to request special education services. Still, be clear about what you want. Ask to meet about RTII, and ask them to explain that process to you. Go over it, go home and read about it, then make your decision.
- Request IEP Evaluations. Don’t stress if you don’t know exactly what to write. I have dozens of letter templates right here: How to request IEP Evaluations
- Describe exactly what you are seeing. You want to be clear. What reading struggles are you seeing? Social skills, time management, whatever skill deficits you are seeing, describe them in bullet points in this letter.
- Should I ask for specific tests and evaluations? No. There are literally thousands upon thousands of different types of evaluations. Parents can’t possibly know them all. Plus, if you only request specific evals, those might be the only ones you get and they may not be correct. Let the school decide. Give them a chance to get it right. They are required to evaluate in every area of suspected disability. This is why you want to include as much as you can in your letter.
- How long does the school have to evaluate? Now you wait. Within a week or two, you should receive a Permission to Evaluate letter from your school. When you sign it, write a note, reiterating your areas of concern. Timelines vary by state, so you’ll want to check your own state regs to see exactly how long they have to return your forms and do the evaluation. Once the evals are completed, you will be invited to either an IEP meeting or meeting to go over the evaluation results. If your school chooses to go right to an IEP meeting or does the meetings back to back, I would ask for a change. Particularly if this is your first child going through the process for the first time, it is a LOT to absorb. I would ask to have a meeting for qualified individuals to go over your results. Then schedule the IEP meeting a few days or weeks after that, after you’ve had time to do some reading and absorbing.
- I asked for an IEP, they offered RTI or 504. Yeah, it happens. You ask for special ed evals and your school says no. It’s ok, deep breaths. You should have been presented this information on a PWN form. If not, ask for it.
- You have choices: accept their decision or not. I would highly recommend if this happens, that you join our Facebook Group and discuss your issue there.Read your Procedural Safeguards
It is required that the school district give you a copy of your IEP procedural safeguards. Read them! Most parents don’t. And it outlines all your rights as a parent.
How long does it take to get an IEP?
At the beginning of those 8 steps, I listed that it takes 100 days from start to finish. It really does! From the Permission to Evaluate Form, to evaluations, IEP meetings and then implementation, it really can take that long. So go with your gut. If you suspect a problem, don’t delay.
The special ed and IEP process is slow. As I said, you’ll have to check your state’s guidelines for specifics. This can be a very stressful time, so again, I highly recommend that you join our Facebook group for support and ideas. You’ll find many experienced advocates and parents in there, all willing to help.
Lastly, please do not agree to the “wait and see.” Since the process is so slow, if you agree to wait for even one marking period, you could be delaying services until the next school year.