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The IEP process in four basic steps

The Individualized Educational Program (IEP) is essentially a legal document that is designed to help children who are diagnosed with an educational disability. This encompasses both physical and learning disabilities.

The document generally consists of a plan proposed during an initial IEP meeting. Various educators, specialists and the child's parents are able to attend the meeting. The United States Department of Education notes that for these plans to be truly effective the entire team must come together and focus on the student's needs.

Parents and teachers that are starting their first experience with an IEP can benefit from a basic understanding of how the process works. Four steps that are involved for most students starting this process include:

  • Identification. First, a child is identified as one that could benefit from an IEP. In some cases, this occurs when an educator requests an evaluation for a particular student.
  • Evaluation. Once identified, the student will be evaluated. The evaluation is then reviewed. This information is used to determine if the child has a disability. If so, the child is often eligible for an IEP.
  • Meeting. If a disability is present, the school staff will contact parents and other participants involved in better ensuring the child's success within the classroom and schedule a meeting to discuss the child's needs. A draft of an IEP is generally composed during this meeting.
  • Review. After the IEP is completed and implemented, the child's progress will be reviewed. This should occur at least once a year.

Parents and educational professionals alike may have some concerns about the IEP process. Parents who are concerned that their child's needs are not being met or educators who are dealing with IEP conflict have options.

In these situations, it is wise to seek legal counsel. An attorney can help you navigate the legal issues surrounding an IEP.

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