The Special Education Process

words: you make the difference
  •  Your involvement in developing an effective Individualized Education Program or IEP for your child is essential to your child’s success!  


    What is an IEP?

    An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a written statement of the educational program designed to meet a child’s individual needs. Every child who receives special education services must have an IEP which sets reasonable learning goals for a child and states the services that the school district will provide for the child. (Center for Parent Information and Resources)


    Who develops the IEP?

    Federal legislation, or special education law, determines the composition of the IEP team. Specifically, IDEA (at §300.321), describes the IEP team as including the following members:

    • The parents of the child;
    • Not less than one regular education teacher of the child (if the child is, or may be, participating in the regular education environment);
    • Not less than one special education teacher of the child, or where appropriate, not less than one special education provider of the child;
    • A representative of the public agency who is qualified to provide, or supervise the provision of, specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of children with disabilities; is knowledgeable about the general education curriculum; and is knowledgeable about the availability of resources of the public agency;
    • An individual who can interpret the instructional implications of evaluation results;
    • Other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the child, including related service personnel as appropriate (invited at the discretion of the parent or the agency); and
    • The child with a disability (when appropriate).


    How are parents involved?

    Parents are integral members of the IEP Team. Parents will be notified of the meeting in advance and the meeting will be scheduled at a time and place agreed upon by both the parents and the school.  The notice may be in writing, by telephone, or in person and must give the purpose, date, time and location of the meeting as well as a list of those who plan to attend. The case manager often connects with the parent(s) prior to the IEP meeting to seek parental input and begin a draft which is shared with parents. In order to help develop an appropriate IEP, parents are encouraged to provide input, review any drafts provided and to attend the IEP meeting. Parents should bring information and ideas to the meeting.

    What is in an IEP?

    Each child’s IEP is unique, reflecting his or her strengths and needs. However, it must contain specific information, as required by IDEA. This includes the following:

    • The child’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance (how the child is currently doing in school and how the child’s disability affects his or her involvement and progress in the general curriculum);
    • Annual goals for the child (what parents and the school team think he or she can reasonably accomplish in a year);
    • The special education and related services to be provided to the child (including supplementary aids and services (such as a communication device) and changes to the program or support for school personnel);
    • How much of the school day the child will be educated separately from nondisabled children or not participate in extracurricular or other nonacademic activities such as lunch or clubs;
    • How (and if) the child is to participate in state and district-wide assessments, including what modifications to tests the child needs;
    • When services and modifications begin, how often they will be provided, where they will be provided, and how long they will last;
    • How school personnel will measure the child’s progress toward the annual goals. (Center for Parent Information and Resources.)




  • The IEP Team Process

    The following series of five brief video clips was created and produced by ECAC, the Exceptional Children's Assistance Center, North Carolina's Parent Training and Information Center. These are readily found on YouTube and the ECAC website. Designed to provide information specifically for parents of children in North Carolina, the key messages are relevant for all parents. This series will help parents to understand the IEP process. Please be sure to ask Parent Resource Services (PRS) or your special education case manager regarding any specific questions you may have about the LCPS IEP process.

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    Part 1: IDEA and IEPS

    Part 1: Introduces Individualized Education Program (IEP), and IDEA, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004.  

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    Part 2: The IEP Team

    Part 2: Introduces the members of the IEP Team. You will learn about each of their important roles in the process of designing an effective IEP for your child.

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    Part 3: What's Included in the IEP

    Part 3: The team demonstrates how it discusses a child's academic and functional strengths and needs in great detail. The IEP Team will use the information gathered to create a written Individualized Education Program (IEP) for the child.

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    Part 4: Getting Ready for the IEP Meeting

    Part 4: Learn about getting ready for your child's IEP meeting. Being prepared for the IEP meeting is the best way to actively and effectively participate in planning your child's educational program.

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    Part 5: The IEP Meeting 

    Part 5: Watch an IEP Team meeting in progress. Meet the team members and go through the IEP process step by step.



    Learn more about IEPs