Parents are often surprised to learn that, many times, IDEA does not define something that we are expecting to find. IEP timelines and the IEP process rank highly on that list.

After the initial IEP evaluations and IEP development, IDEA is pretty silent on how long schools have to do some things. A few states have defined this, but most have not. I created an IEP timeline flowchart or IEP process flow chart below to help explain it better.

iep timeline flowchart

I’ve also answered many of the common questions I get about IEP timelines. And, if you go all the way to the bottom, we’ve gathered all the state regulations for all 50 states in one spreadsheet so you can look up your specific timelines for IEPs.

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IEP Timelines

I get a lot of repeated questions from parents. Some of the more common ones are listed below.

How long does a school have to:

  • respond to IEP email?
  • schedule an IEP meeting?
  • evaluate my child?
  • begin services in a new school year?
  • send me the final draft of the IEP?

All those questions and more are answered below. I’ve compiled the common questions that parents ask about IEP timelines below.

How long does the school have to evaluate my child?

Assuming that you have made your request in writing and signed the Permission to Evaluate, IDEA says 60 days. Some states have shortened that to 30 or 45 days. But for most, it is 60. Once they have evaluated the child, they then have 30 days to draw up an IEP. This is why it is essential to put your request in writing as soon as you think you might want this for your child.

Please note that this is the same for FBAs, as they are considered an evaluation. This timeline in IDEA is only for initial evaluations. IDEA does not define timelines for re-evaluations. Since IEPs have a renewal date, the assumption is made that they will be completed prior to the IEP team meeting to renew the IEP.

mom reviewing her special education timelines

How long does a school have to respond to an evaluation request?

By itself, the IEP process is very slow. Most states do not define a specific number of days. Some do. Look at the chart below.

IDEA does not define timelines for re-evaluations. Since IEPs have a renewal date, the assumption is made that they will be completed prior to the IEP team meeting to renew the IEP.

I emailed the school to ask for a meeting, how long do they have to respond? There are a couple of states that define this specifically and say 10-30 days. Most do not, and IDEA says ‘reasonable.’ Please know that in IDEA, there is no such thing as an Emergency IEP Meeting. I have addressed IEP meeting timelines in that post.

How long do they have to get me the final copy of the IEP? After the IEP meeting assuming that changes were made to the IEP during the meeting, the team has a reasonable amount of time to get it to you. I usually give a week or two before I start pestering, depending on the situation. This is why the after IEP meeting letter is important. We had the IEP meeting. Some states define this but most do not.

I emailed the teacher about something. When does he/she have to get back to me? IDEA does not mention or address this at all as part of the IEP timelines. In my advocacy business and personally with my own child, I generally give team members 3-5 days to get back to me. If they haven’t, I give them another nudge. After the 2nd or 3rd attempt, if still unanswered, then I start going up the chain of command.

How far in advance should I be invited to the IEP meeting? Some states say 10 days. IDEA says that you should notify parents of the meeting early enough to ensure that they will have an opportunity to attend. It is interesting to note that IDEA specifically says ‘At a mutually agreed-upon time and place’ and case law has strongly upheld this.

When a new school year begins in the fall, how soon should I expect to resume IEP services? IDEA does not specifically address this, except in that IEPs are to be implemented every single day that the child is in school. However, is it reasonable to expect OT or PT to happen on day one? That’s for you to decide. Personally, I feel that they should have a schedule for you the first week, with services beginning the second week of school. To me, that is reasonable. If I haven’t heard anything after the first week, I start emailing.

If we make changes to an IEP, when do those changes go into effect? This specific issue is not defined in IDEA, so make sure you bring it up at the meeting or in your. If this is an initial IEP or renewal, you should expect to see dates listed on your IEP defining this.

How long is an IEP good for? How long does an IEP last? An IEP is good for one year, and those dates should be listed on the IEP. However, schools do fall out of compliance, and sometimes meetings are held past the renewal date. In that instance, it is assumed that the current IEP is the one that is followed until a new one is agreed upon and implemented. It is up to the parent if they wish to file compliance complaints.

State IEP Timelines

Below is a spreadsheet with links to every state’s special education websites and regulations. You can look up your specific IEP timelines.

You can see all the state special education regulations here:

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