Federal law specifies the participants that are to be involved in developing an Individual Education Program (IEP) for students with learning disabilities or ADHD. Each member of the IEP team (sometimes referred to as the Planning and Placement Team or PPT) brings a unique perspective and expertise that contribute to a comprehensive plan designed to meet the child’s needs. Below are the major players, along with descriptions of their roles and responsibilities.
Parents are key members of the IEP team. Their primary responsibility is to inform other team members of their child’s strengths and needs, and present their ideas for enhancing his educational success.
Drawing on information only a parent can know, they offer insights into their child’s interests, how he learns, and other qualities that may impact his academic performance.
During IEP meetings, parents should also listen carefully, evaluating others’ perceptions and suggestions, and sharing their opinions as to the appropriateness of the teams’ proposals.
Finally, parents can report on whether the skills their child is learning at school are being carried over at home, and elicit team suggestions for how the family can best support their child.
General Ed Teachers
If the child is (or may be) participating in the mainstream school environment, at least one of his general education teachers must be on the IEP team. The general education teacher has a great deal to offer, including:
- Information on the curriculum in the general education classroom
- Aids, services, or changes to the educational program that could enhance learning
- Strategies to help with behavior, if behavior is an issue
The general ed teacher may also discuss supports that may help the child reach his annual goals, progress in the general curriculum, and participate in non-academic activities. Supports may include professional development for teachers, administrators, bus drivers, paraprofessionals, cafeteria workers, and anyone else that provides services for children with LD or ADHD.
Special Education Teacher
The child’s special education teacher contributes important information and experience about how to educate children with learning disabilities, including:
- Accommodations and modifications of the curriculum to help the child learn
- Supplementary aids and services that the child may need to succeed in the classroom and elsewhere
- Other aspects of individualizing instruction to meet the child’s unique needs
Beyond helping to write the IEP and working with the child to carry out the IEP, the special ed teacher may:
- Team teach with the general education teacher
- Work with the child in the general classroom, in a resource room, or in a support services class devoted to children receiving special education services
- Work with other school staff, particularly the general education teacher, to provide expertise about addressing the child’s unique needs
Another important member of the team is an individual who is able to interpret the results of the student’s evaluation. The evaluation results are useful in determining how the child is progressing and his areas of strengths and weaknesses. This team member must be able to talk about the instructional implications of the results to help the team plan appropriate instruction.
School System Representative
Someone who represents the school system also must be present. This person knows about special education services, educating children with disabilities, and the school resources that are necessary to carry out the plan. It is important for this individual to have the authority to commit resources and ensure that whatever services are in the IEP will actually be provided.
Parents or school personnel may invite additional people with knowledge about the child or special expertise to join the IEP team or participate in specific meetings. For example, parents may invite an advocate, a professional with expertise about their child’s specific disability, or a vocational educator who has been working with the child. (Payment for experts invited by parents should be discussed in advance.)
Because an important part of developing the IEP is considering what services the child needs, related-service professionals are often invited to participate. They’re expected to share their expertise about the child’s needs and how their particular services may address those needs. Related-service professionals include, for example, occupational or physical therapists, adaptive physical education providers, psychologists, or speech-language pathologists.
When an IEP is being developed for a child of transition age (16 years old), representatives from transition service agencies may be called on to participate. Whenever the purpose of a meeting is to consider transition services, the school must invite a representative of any other agency that may be responsible for providing or paying for transition services, such as persons from the Dept. of Disability Services or the Dept. of Children and Families. This person may help the team plan transition services and can also commit the resources of the agency to pay for or provide the needed services. If these people are not able to attend the meeting, the school must take alternative steps to obtain the agency’s participation in the planning of transition services.
The student may also be a member of the IEP team. If transition services are on the agenda, the child must be invited to attend. More and more children are participating in and even leading their own IEP meetings. This allows them to have a voice in their own education while providing lessons in self-advocacy.
- General education teacher
- Special education teacher
- School-system representative
This information is adapted from Bringing Knowledge to the Table: How To Be An Effective Advocate for Your Child,© 2011, by SPED*NET Wilton, Special Education Network of Wilton, Ltd.www.spednetwilton.org.
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