Friday, November 16, 2012

Interim Changes to an IEP

Parents of students receiving services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act are generally familiar with the annual review process. This is a meeting that takes place each year, usually in the spring, which reviews the student's progress under his or her Individualized Education Program (IEP) and sets forth the plan for the coming school year -- services to be provided, goals to be met, and how and where the student will be educated. Every three years this review becomes a "triennial" and includes a re-evaluation of the student's level of performance and academic functioning.

Parents who have worked with this system for a number of years know that the annual or triennial review is the time to bring up concerns and seek different or additional services. This is a time when they are a mandated part of the team that decides how their child will be educated and the other folks around the table usually are those who know their child best -- classroom teacher, special education teacher, school psychologist, and others.

But what parents sometimes do not know is that the IEP that emerges from the annual review is not etched in stone and the requirement for an annual review is a legal minimum, not a maximum. So, parents and schools can seek a new meeting at any time. Furthermore, changes to an IEP can be made without the need for a meeting. The IDEA specifically provides:

Section 614(d)(3)(D) Agreement.--In making changes to a child's IEP after the annual IEP meeting for a school year, the parent of a child with a disability and the local educational agency [the school district] may agree not to convene an IEP meeting for the purposes of making such changes, and instead may develop a written document to amend or modify the child's current IEP.

The regulations which amplify the law, further go on to state:

Section 300.324(a)(4) (ii) - If changes are made to the child's IEP in accordance with paragraph (a)(4)(i) of this section, the public agency must ensure that the child's IEP Team is informed of those changes.

So, parents should keep in mind that they have options if they are not happy with how things are going under their child's IEP. They can contact the head of their IEP Team, raise their concerns, and if agreement can be reached, the IEP can be modified without need for another meeting. If that does not work, they can seek another meeting of the IEP Team, even if they are not "due" for another annual meeting, and bring their issues to the full IEP team. It's their right to do so.

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