“Can you please make a list or something, of all the steps of the IEP process?”
I’m trying, I’m really trying. Next on my agenda is to do a visual flow chart of the IEP process, because at every point in the process, the district can say yes or no, or the parent can be given other options. I wish it was just a list, but it’s not. But I will use a list as my starting point, to at least give parents a starting point…and build from there. Selfishly, it’s also helping me organize my thoughts.
So, let’s get started and dig in.
A parent’s guide to the IEP process
I’m going to set this up as 8 basic steps of the IEP process, and then below each one, you will see that I have valuable links and information about that step in the process.
Pin this so you have it:
Step 1: parent realizes there is a problem and child might need help
First step is parent recognizing that there is an issue and asking for help. I cannot say this enough times–do everything in writing. Everything.
- How do I get an IEP for my child?
- I already have an IEP, but my child is still struggling, I don’t know where to begin.
Step 2: asking for help
You realize that you do need help and you’re going to ask for evaluations. Do everything in writing!
- What tests or evaluations do I ask for on the IEP?
- 25 letter templates (to request evaluations and more)
Oops a mis-step!
This is one of those times where it needs to be a flow chart, not a list. Let’s suppose the school district said NO! No evals for you! You have a few choices-ask for an IEE, or ask for Mediation or Due Process.
- what to know about requesting an IEE
- ABCs of IEPs-I is for IEE
- ABCs of IEPs-D is for Due Process
- ABCs of IEPs-M is for Mediation
Step 3: back on track, school has agreed to do evaluations
As part of this process, you will be given a PTE (permission to evaluate) form. Here is something you should know about this part of the process-
- 5 things every parent must do during the IEP process
- What is your vision for your child? (w/ free printable)
Step 4: evaluations are over
The evaluations are complete (time frame for this varies by state). They are either going to let you know that your child qualifies for an IEP, 504 or nothing at all. If you disagree, go back to the mis-step above and decide what you are going to do. If you disagree with what the evals say or what you are being offered–again you have the same 3 choices.
Step 5: an IEP meeting is looming!
This is it! Evals are done and there will be an IEP drawn up. As you know from step 3 above, there are 5 parts of the process that are especially conducive to parent participation, and this is one of them. When you are invited to the IEP meeting, you absolutely should submit your parent concerns letter.
Oops! Another mis-step!
At this point in the process, you’ve maybe shared with friends, family and co-workers about what is going on. Seeking support and assistance is essential…but please be careful! Many people just give terrible IEP advice and some people are real Negative Nellys. This is your journey-none of us can change the cards we are dealt, only how we play the hand.
Step 6: being prepared for the IEP meeting
I think that the biggest mistake parents make is not realizing that the whole IEP thing is a process…that the IEP meeting itself is not the end-all, be-all of this. This IEP should be followed every single day of the child’s academic career…so why would you only devote 90 minutes to it? I think about, read and evaluate my son’s IEP at least weekly. Being constantly aware and prepared makes it less stressful and less work, trust me. Be prepared for your IEP meeting–come prepared to have meaningful participation. You are not there to just sit there and listen.
- How to thrive, not just survive at the IEP meeting
- Top 10 parent mistakes at IEP meetings
- 500 SDIs for an IEP
- 15 goal banks for an IEP
- parent printable sheet for IEP meeting
- 35 self-advocacy goals for an IEP
- goals that address executive functioning deficits
Step 8: finalizing the process for this year
And that’s it! That’s it as far as writing and finalizing this year’s IEP. But the process of progress monitoring and watching your child, keeping tabs on how they are doing…that should never stop. Please do not put away the IEP and then just drag it out again next year. It is crucial for your child’s success that you are on top of this. When you receive the final IEP, again, go back to the mis-step between Steps 2 and 3, and those are you options.
- ABCs of IEPs: O is for Organized and Ongoing
- be a better parent advocate in just 15 minutes
- How to organize IEP paperwork
I hope this helps and makes it a bit simpler, not more complicated. I have several other posts that are helpful during the IEP process. I couldn’t really decide what steps to put them under, so they are here.
Every state has a protection and advocacy agency for disabilities. It’s a good place to start if you think you need an advocate or attorney.
Other IEP resources:
- Everything a parent needs to know about ESY
- 25 commonly used special ed acronyms
- Do I have to hire an advocate?
- I cannot afford an advocate or attorney.
- What special ed websites should I follow?
- useful tips for navigating Wrightslaw
And lastly, this is my selfish plea.
In exchange for me offering you all of this FREE advice…I have a favor to ask. I need you. My son needs you. Our kids need you. We need you to join us in the fight for disability rights. We need more foot soldiers-more people calling legislators, writing letters, visiting….our kids’ very lives depend on it. So will you help?