Individualized Education Program – Overview

Fact Sheet
Updated: 1 year ago

What is an Individualized Education Program?

An IEP is a document developed by the IEP team that maps out the special education program, instruction, supports, and services that a child needs in order to make progress and succeed in school. Each IEP is individualized to meet a student’s specific needs.

Who is eligible for an IEP?

In order to qualify for an IEP, a student must have a qualifying educational disability that adversely affects their educational performance and requires special education and related services as a result. A qualifying disability is one that falls into one or more of the following categories:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
  • Deafness
  • Deaf-Blindness
  • Developmental Delay
  • Emotional Disturbance (ED)
  • Hearing Impairment Intellectual Disability
  • Multiple Disabilities
  • Orthopedic Impairment
  • Other Health Impairment (OHI)
  • Specific Learning Disability (SLD)
  • Speech or Language Impairment
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Visual Impairment

Who is considered a part of the IEP team?

The IEP team must include:

  •  The parent of the student;
  • At least one regular education teacher of the child (if the child is participating or may participate in regular education);
  • At least one special education teacher of the child;
  • A representative of the Local Education Agency (LEA); and
  • The student, as appropriate.
  • If an IEP team is meeting to discuss evaluation results, there must be an individual present who can interpret the instructional implications of evaluation results; this may be somebody already on the team, such as a teacher. However, the individual must have the proper qualifications to interpret the results of the evaluation (e.g., a special education teacher is not qualified to present findings of cognitive testing). In addition to the individuals listed above, others may be invited at the discretion of the parent or the school district (e.g., outside service provider, parent advocate, attorney, and/or someone who knows the student and has expertise in the area of the student’s disability). the school district (e.g., outside service provider, parent advocate, attorney, and/or someone who knows the student and has expertise in the area of the student’s disability)

What should you do if one of the required team members is not present?

Parents must excuse required team members who do not attend an IEP meeting. You can reschedule so they can attend if you would like them to be there. You do not need to agree to their absence.

When is the IEP team required to meet?

The IEP team is required to meet within 30 calendar days after it is determined that the student qualifies for special education. Following this initial meeting, the IEP team is required to meet annually or as needed to discuss the IEP and to make appropriate revisions. Parents may request an IEP meeting at any time. When making a request for an IEP meeting, make sure to do so in writing so that you can maintain a record of the request. The IEP team is required to meet within 30 calendar days following a parent’s request for a meeting. The school district is required to notify parents of an IEP meeting. The notice must indicate the purpose, time, and location of the meeting and a list of who will be in attendance. Keep this notice in your records.

How to prepare for the IEP meeting?

  • Keep a detailed file of your child’s educational record, including progress reports, assessments, evaluations, teacher or personal observations, and samples of your child’s work, as well as any medical records that may be relevant to your child’s education. If you don’t have a copy of your student’s records, request them from the school district.
  • Prior to the IEP meeting, request a draft of the IEP, any recent evaluation results, and supporting data. Make sure you make this request in writing.
  • Review your child’s proposed IEP, and make a list of any changes you would like to see or concerns you have regarding the current IEP.
  • Write down your priorities and goals for your child, and make a list of what your child needs in order to attain those goals.
  • Write down any questions you would like to ask the rest of the IEP team.

How can I effectively participate in the meeting?

During meetings, the IEP team will discuss:

  • The child’s present level of performance and progress towards the goals in the current IEP;
  • What new goals should be added; and
  • Whether any changes need to be made to the supports and services provided to the child as outlined in the current IEP. Parents play an important role in IEP team meetings and should go into the meeting prepared to discuss the topics above with other members of the team. While in the IEP meeting, it is best to use clear communication and speak up in order to make sure that any concerns you have about your child are appropriately voiced. If something being discussed is unclear to you, make sure to ask for clarification. You ARE allowed to record IEP meetings. In Utah, you are not required to tell the school that you are recording the meeting, but you can if that makes you feel more comfortable.

What if I disagree with something in the IEP?

At the end of the meeting, the parent will be asked to sign the new and revised IEP. You are not required to sign the IEP right then and there, and you have the right to request a copy to take home and review. A signature serves as proof of who attended the meeting, and at the time you sign the IEP, you should make a note of any portions of the IEP that you disagree with. If you ask for a specific service or support and the school district refuses, make sure to request Prior Written Notice from the school district. Parents have the right to challenge decisions about the services that the school district provides and decisions relating to their child’s eligibility, evaluation, and placement. If parents disagree with the school district, they may:

  • Request Mediation
  • Submit an IDEA State Complaint
  • Request a Due Process Hearing