Once it has been determined that a child needs special education services within 60 days, a meeting to create that child's IEP must be held within 30 days. There are several specific members who are required by law to participate in the creation of a child's IEP. The team members are as follows:
- the parents (and other family members)
- the child's regular education teacher (presence not always needed if the child is already in special services)
- the child's special education teacher
- a school system representative
- an occupational, physical and/or speech therapist
- a person to interpret the child's academic evaluation results (a psychologist)
- a transition services representative (if neccessary)
The child should be included in the process if old enough to understand and possibly assist the team in planning for his/hers future. Other individuals with specific knowledge about or expertise with the child can also be included in the IEP development team. It is important to note that one person could be qualified to fill more than one of these position and may do so. Each of these team members will be further explained below.
The parents should be obvious members on the IEP planning team. No other people involved in the process should know more about their child's abilities and limitations. Parents can offer comments on how their child best seems to learn things at home, and whether the things the child learns in school are being used at home. The parents can explain the child's interests and things that motivate the child. Parental input combined with the input from other team members can fully round out a child's progress and potential for the entire team to understand.
Regular Education Teacher
Teachers are critical participants at the IEP meetings. A regular education teacher can assist with the IEP group's determination of what types of services and educational programs can help the child to learn. The regular teacher also has knowledge about the general curriculum that is taught in the school. The teacher may even have prior experience working with a child with similar learning and/or behavioral issues. Once strategies for the IEP are determined, the regular education teacher can inform the group of any specialized training that the teacher or other support staff will need to help the child meet the IEP goals. This teacher also becomes aware of accommodations that will help the child succeed.
Special Education Teacher
The special educator is the person who is devoted to working with the student and delivering the special education services. This teacher can also work with the regular educator as well in larger classroom settings and help school staff address a child's unique needs and help to develop accommodations.. On the IEP team the special educator can help modify the general curriculum to adjust it to the child's learning level and create evaluation tools to measure the child's progress. The special educator may also be able to suggest additional services or equipment that can be put in place to assist the child's classroom experience.
School System Administrator (or designee)
The administrator brings to the IEP team the authority to bring in whatever resources and services are deemed necessary to the program. The administrator also has knowledge about the special education programs offered within the school system and should have an understanding of how they operate to help the children they instruct. This person does not have to be the principal, but rather their designee.
Academic Evaluation Interpreter
The evaluator has a very important role on the Individualized Education Program team. This person must be able to evaluate where the child is academically and identify areas that need to be boosted to help the child progress. The evaluator's input will help the rest of the team determine what types of services will be required to support each area of need that is identified.
Transition Services Representative
This person represents the agency that will be responsible for dealing with the student's transition. The agency may actually provide the services or pay for the services. If the representative does not participate in the planning, the school is responsible for making the arrangements with the agency to ensure transition needs are met.
Transition refers to activities meant to prepare students with disabilities for adult life. These activities can include developing post secondary education and career goals, getting work experience, and connecting with adult service providers - whatever is appropriate for the student, given their interests, skills, and needs. Typically, transition is broken down into the planning stage, when the student reaches age 14, the services stage starting at about age 16. The planning stage is worked on with the student to help get course work arranged to meet long-term goals for when the student becomes an adult. The services stage is when the actual needs of the student are being addressed. These needs are related to adult living, college or technical school, employment, and interacting with the surrounding community.
The student's involvement in the IEP can be very important, as well. The student can take an active part in planning for his or her own future, providing confidence and assuring that wants and needs are addressed. In older students, getting them involved in their transition planning and services allows them to have a fuller understanding of where they are heading for their future.
This person, or people in some cases, is invited to attend the planning meetings by either the parents or school district. A knowledgeable expert can be a private tutor that has been working with the child, the child's advocate, physicians, or any other person who has specific expertise in some aspect of the child's life. Knowledge experts can also be service professionals who have been directly involved in the services being provided to the child or services that would better help the child in the future.
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