Navigating the IEP Process

Friday, March 26th, 2021

By: Lora McConnell, M.A., CCC-SLP

What do you do if you have a concern about how your child is functioning at school? There are several specific steps you should follow and information you should know in order to get your child the help he/she might need.

  • First, talk to his/her teacher and see how they are doing in the classroom setting.
  • Write a SPECIFIC letter/email outlining your concerns and ask for an evaluation. Be sure to document everything! Send it to the principal, school psychologist, and speech-language pathologist (if an area of concern).
  • Be sure to provide any evaluations/testing/reports you may already have.
  • Instead of an evaluation, you could ask that your child begin interventions though the RTI (Response to Intervention) process, where your child would be provided with interventions targeting the specific area of concern.
  • If you request an evaluation, the school has 30 days from receiving the request to explain the process, get your permission, and set up testing.
  • The school has 60 days from receiving your permission to do full testing in the area(s) of concern. They will write an Evaluation Team Report (ETR) documenting testing conducted and testing results. An ETR is conducted every 3 years.
  • If your child qualifies for services, an initial Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting will be scheduled to set up specific goals for your child. Within another 30 days from the ETR and, as soon as possible, services begin. The IEP is reviewed annually.
  • This can be a long process, so stay on top of it! Know your rights and your child’s rights. You will be given the document “Whose IDEA is This?”, which is a helpful guide for special education.
  • Remember: a child is eligible for school services only if the disability adversely affects his/her educational performance.
If the school doesn’t feel your child needs further services but you still do/disagree:
  • You may request an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) – done by an outside site only in the areas tested by the school. The school will provide you with participating locations. An IEE may be paid for at public expense or by the parent, depending on location.
  • You can also seek additional services/tutoring/therapy elsewhere.
WHAT DO ALL OF THOSE LETTERS MEAN?!?!
  • SLP – Speech-Language Pathologist
  • OT/PT – Occupational Therapy/Physical Therapy IS – Intervention Specialist
  • RTI – Response to Intervention
  • ETR – Evaluation Team Report
  • IEP – Individualized Education Plan
  • IEE – Independent Educational Evaluation
  • ODE – Ohio Department of Education
HOW DO I STAY INVOLVED IN MY CHILD’S PROGRESS?
  • The school will sent periodic reports updating goals. Review these carefully.
  • Be sure to attend parent/teacher conferences. Additional professionals working with your child often attend these as well.
  • Attend all IEP related meetings. Ask lots of questions.
  • Remember: the IEP team is on the same team with you – they want your child to succeed , too!
  • Set up time at home for nightly homework and targeting your child’s goals in a natural setting. Your child’s IEP team can give you ideas.
Additional Resources:
  • Parent Mentors – free service, parent of a child with a disability employed by each school district, parent who can help answer questions and provide support.
  • Parent Advocate – an advocate for you and your child paid by you to help to try and get the services you desire for your child.
  • OCECD – Ohio Coalition for Education of Children with Disabilities (Marion, OH) – statewide, non profit organization serving children and their families, and educators, agencies providing service to them.
  • Interpreters are available if requested and set up prior to a meeting All of the above can help with transition services
  • Whose IDEA is This? document
  • Ohio Department of Education Website
  • John Peterson Scholarship – funds for therapeutic services if your child has an IEP but is attending a private school.
  • Autism Scholarship – funds for additional therapeutic services if your child has received a diagnosis on the autism spectrum.
  • Talk Tips to Go! Columbus Speech & Hearing Center’s monthly newsletter highlighting various speech and language topics and resources for all ages. Email jails@columbusspeech.org to sign up!