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IEP Requirements Starting in 2017

Many parents and professionals have no understanding about what the IEP is in special education or how it is to be developed. MAC will focus on this critical area for the entirety of the 2017-2018 school year. The current law for IEP development comes from the opinion of the Supreme Court of the United States in Endrew F v. Douglas School Dist., March 22, 2017. Excerpts follow from that decisionthat explain what an IEP is, its purpose, and the process for its development.

The essential function of an IEP is to set out a plan for pursuing academic and functional advancement…the degree of progress contemplated by the IEP must be appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances…that child’s educational program must be appropriately ambitious in light of his circumstances. The Act contemplates that this fact-intensive exercise will be informed not only by the expertise of school officials, but also by the input of the child’s parents or guardians. The goals may differ, but every child should have the chance to meet challenging objectives. The IEP is the centerpiece of (IDEA’s) education delivery system for disabled children.

The adequacy of a given IEP turns on the unique circumstances of the child for whom it was created. The nature of the IEP process ensures that parents and school representatives will fully air their respective opinions on the degree of progress a child’s IEP should pursue; thus, by the time any dispute reaches court, school authorities will have had the chance to bring their expertise and judgment to bear on areas of disagreement. A focus on the particular child is at the core of IDEA. The nature of the IEP process, from the initial consultation through state administrative proceedings, ensures that parents and school representatives will fully air their respective opinions on the degree of progress a child’s IEPshould pursue.

Every IEP include(s) “a statement of the child’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance”, describe(s) “how the child’s disability affects the child’s involvement and progress in the general education curriculum”, and set(s) out “measurable annual goals, including academic and functional goals, along with a “description of how the child’s progress toward meeting” those goals will be gauged. The goals may differ, but every child should have the chance to meet challenging objectives. The IEP must also describe “special education and related services…that will be provided” so that the child may “advance appropriately toward attaining the annual goals” and, when possible “be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum”. An IEP is not a form document. It is constructed only after careful consideration of the child’s present levels of achievement, disability, and potential for growth. The adequacy of a given IEP turns on the unique circumstances of the child for whom it was created.