An Individual Education Plan (IEP) is a LEGAL document which outlines your child’s education needs, the services provided by your school District, and how your child’s progress will be measured. For parents, the process of developing an IEP with your child’s Child Study Team (YES – you ARE involved in the process!!!) can be very stressful and confusing. Educating yourself with your parental right and the rights of your child, as well as the legal responsibilities of your school District, will help the process go more smoothly. Remember, an effective IEP is the best tool that will be used in order for your child’s educational goals to be met.
According to the U.S. Department of Education – Office for Civil Rights (https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/504faq.html), “The Section 504 regulations require a school district to provide a "free appropriate public education" (FAPE) to each qualified student with a disability who is in the school district's jurisdiction, regardless of the nature or severity of the disability. Under Section 504, FAPE consists of the provision of regular or special education and related aids and services designed to meet the student's individual educational needs as adequately as the needs of nondisabled students are met.”
The documents below will give you a step-by-step guide of the special education process, which includes the development and implementation of an appropriate and effective IEP for your child. Also included below are some articles which will assist you during your IEP meetings, tips, checklists, ideas for accommodations and modifications, information on 504 plans, and much more!
If your child is receiving special education services in NJ, I recommend you read the following documents: The New Jersey Special Education Process, The Right to Special Education in New Jersey, and most importantly, Parental Rights in Special Education. These documents are long, but are also full of information you need to make informed decisions about your child's education. It is also important to read and learn about How to Navigate an IEP Meeting, common IEP Modifications and Accommodations, and the Difference Between IEP's and 504 Plans. If you are planning to organize all of your school documents in a binder, How to Organize Your Child's IEP Binder is a great article to read!
There are so many other great resources for families! Wrightslaw has a wonderful page filled with IEP facts and articles. SPAN Advocacy has a great IEP checklist you can use, and The Arc of New Jersey offers an "IEP Go Bag" for families.