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IEP (Individualized Education Plan) FAQ's

What is an IEP?

An IEP is an Individualized Education Plan. This is a written plan required for each identified special education student. The IEP must include the student's present level of performance, annual goals that address any deficit areas identified in current evaluations and short-term objectives or benchmarks. The IEP is the keystone of the special education process. The IEP determines the service level and placement for each student. The Annual Goals are used to measure progress in special education services. IEP's are developed at a meeting of the IEP team. The parent is a required and integral participant on this team.

What is special education and related services? 

Special education is specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parent, to meet the unique needs of the child with a disability. Related services are adjunct services such as occupational therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy, etc. that are necessary for the child to benefit from their special education services. Children are determined eligible for special education services based on federal and state laws and procedures. The federal law that mandates special education services is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Can my child receive special education services in any Orange County School? 

All schools in Orange County offer special education services. In most cases, your child will be served in their assigned school. However, if it is determined that your child needs a separate/self-contained classroom, this may not be available in your base school. If this is the case, your child will be transported from your home to the nearest school with a classroom that is designed to meet his or her individual needs.

Can a student who moves to Orange County with a current IEP be served at their base school?

In most cases, the IEP can be implemented at the base school. However, if the IEP requires services to be delivered in a self-contained classroom that is not located at the base school, the child would be moved to the nearest appropriate classroom. If you have further questions please contact your school.

If a student moves to Orange County with a current IEP where should the child go to enroll the child? 

The student should go to his/her base school to be enrolled. If the IEP can be implemented at the base school, the student will be enrolled. If the IEP cannot be implemented at his/her base school the school will contact Special Education Services.

How do I access additional supports/interventions for my child?

If a student is experiencing difficulties with academics or behaviors, the teacher a conference with the teacher is warranted. At this conference, a Personal Education Plan (PEP) can be written defining supports/interventions to help the student. After implementing those defined supports and your student is still not growing the areas of concern, the teacher can contact the Student Support Team where other professionals in the school will offer additional strategies to support the student.This problem solving occurs in a meeting with the parent. After implementing those supports for a period time, there will be a review of data collected. If the strategies are promoting student growth, then those strategies may be continued or refined. If the data collected is not demonstrating growth in the areas of need, the Student Support Team may make a referral to the Exceptional Children's Team at the school to determine if an evaluation for special education services is warranted. Parents are included in all meetings and steps of this problem solving process as parents and school work in collaboration to meet the needs of students.

Who decides what special education services my child requires? 

The IEP team determines what special education services are most appropriate for your child. The parent is a required participant on this team. No decision regarding identification, evaluation, educational placement or any other issues related to providing a free, appropriate public education for your child should be made without your input. Other required members of the IEP team are a special education teacher, a regular education teacher and a representative of the LEA (local education authority or school district).

Why does my child have to change schools for service in a separate/self-contained classroom setting?

We do not have classes for every need in every school. Classes are placed strategically around the school district so that children may be placed as close to home as possible.

How is it determined whether a student is eligible to receive related services such as physical therapy (PT), occupational therapy (OT) or speech therapy? 

PT, OT and Speech are related services that are provided to special education students whose educational needs require the provision of these related services in order for the child to benefit from his/her educational program. The child's Individual Education Plan (IEP) Team, which includes the parent(s) and related service providers, determines the needs for services. If the child's educational needs can be met without a related service, he/she would not be eligible to receive it at school.

What do I do if my child is not receiving modifications or if other portions of the IEP are not being implemented? 

You should first discuss this with the teacher who is responsible for implementing the IEP. If this does not bring the desired results, you would then bring it to the attention of the principal at your child's school. If you still feel that the situation has not been remedied, you should call the Director of Exceptional Children at Programs for Exceptional Children (919) 245-4006.

If I am in disagreement with the school district regarding special education services for my child, do I have legal rights?

Yes, you may request mediation or file for a due process hearing as outlined in the "Handbook for Parents’ Rights." You may request a copy of this handbook from your child’s teacher or obtain a copy from our website.

What is a 504 plan? How is it different from special education? How does my child qualify for these services? 

Section 504 is a part of the Rehabilitation ACT of 1973. The intent of this section is to prevent discrimination in access to programs and activities on the basis of a disability.

Under Section 504, if a person has a diagnosed impairment that substantially limits a major life activity, they may be eligible for a Section 504 Plan that could include reasonable accommodations. In a school setting, the major life activities include, but are not limited to, areas such as learning, concentration, walking, seeing, breathing, hearing, and performing manual tasks. Additionally, the major life activities include the operation of "major bodily functions" such as the immune, neurological or respiratory.

In Orange County, we first rule out the need for special education services when learning is the area negatively impacted by the diagnosed impairment. An evaluation is a required component of both 504 and IDEA. If the child were found to have a disability and eligible for special education services, an IEP would be developed. If a child were found to have a disability but not eligible for special education services, a 504 Plan may be considered. The 504 Plan would delineate reasonable accommodations in the school setting to promote learning. These may include such things as extended time on tests, preferential seating, use of a tape recorder, etc.

While Section 504 does require reasonable accommodations, it does not provide the same rights and entitlements that are provided under IDEA. A 504 chairperson has been designated by each principal. They have received specialized training in understanding and implementing Section 504. If you have further questions, please contact the 504 designee at your child's school.

Can a parent exit a child from special education? 

Federal law requires that the IEP team must make all decisions regarding the change of placement of a special education student. The parent is one member of this team. If a parent wishes to exit their child from special education services, they should request an IEP meeting for this purpose. The IEP team should consider whether any additional evaluations are needed to assess the child's progress toward their annual goals. The team will consider all pertinent information to determine if an exit from special education is appropriate. If a parent does not agree with the decision of the IEP team, they may request mediation and/or file for a due process hearing.