Another item to be included in a child's IEP is the placement. The placement is decided by a group of people who know what the evaluation results mean and what types of placements are appropriate. The parents have a right to be members of this group. The IEP team can serve as the placement decision group or the decision may be made by another group of people. How the group is formed is determined by the state's authority. Placement decisions must be made abiding by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requirements that to the maximum extent appropriate. Children with disabilities are to be educated with children who do not have disabilities.
IDEA also states that special classes, separate schools, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment may occur only if the nature or severity of the child's disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily. Placements can be in the regular class (with supplementary aids and services, as needed), in a special class (where every student in the class is receiving special education services), in a special school, at home, in a hospital and institution, or in another setting. The placement group bases its decision on the IEP and what is appropriate for the child and provides the least restirictive environment (LRE).
However, it is important to understand that the rights of children with disabilities who are placed by their parents in private elementary/secondary schools are not the same as those of kids with disabilities who are enrolled in public schools or placed by public agencies in private schools when the public school is unable to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE).
Two major differences that parents, teachers, other school staff, private school representatives, and the kids need to know about are:
- Children with disabilities who are placed by their parents in private schools may not get the same services they would receive in a public school.
- Not all kids with disabilities placed by their parents in private schools will receive services.
Distribution and Implementation
When the written IEP has been finalized the parents must receive a free copy. Educators and related service providers must also be given access to review the program. Each person who will be working with the child needs to know his or her specific responsibilities for carrying out the child's IEP. This ensures the child will receive the services that have been planned, including any modifications and accommodations the IEP team decided are needed.
Before the education program can be implemented though, the parents must give their written permission for the school to start the child's special education and services usually done at the IEP meeting). This permission is only required the first time services are started. Later, when the IEP has been modified and service changes have been approved by the program team, parental written permission is no longer required.
Implementation of the education program begins with the start of special education and related services that were identified for the child. These include using all supplementary aids and services and program modifications that were deemed necessary for the child to advance toward his or her annual goals, involvement and progress in the general curriculum, and participating in other school activities.
It is helpful to have someone in charge of coordinating and monitoring the services the child receives. The child may be receiving any number of related services, with many people involved in delivering those services. Having one person in charge of overseeing the implementation helps to ensure that services are being delivered as planned and that the IEP is being carried out. Even with one coordinator/case manager, teamwork will always be an important part in carrying out the education program. Sharing expertise and insights can help make everyone's job a lot easier and can certainly improve results for children with disabilities. Schools can encourage teamwork by giving teachers, support staff, and/or paraprofessionals time to plan or work together on topics like adapting the general curriculum to address the child's unique needs.
Communication between home and school is also important, and therefore should be on-going.. Parents can share information about what is happening at home and build upon what the child is learning at school. If the child is having difficulty at school, parents may be able to offer insight or help the school explore possible reasons as well as possible solutions. Like general educaiton students, the child/family should received a mid-term and quarterly report card. Together, parents and school personnel can then address the child's needs as they progress or falter during the academic year.
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