Individualized Education Plans (IEPs)

In New York State, the academic success of students with disabilities is guided by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The IDEA outlines the need for Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) for special education students to ensure that all students are receiving a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). Ensuring that your child’s IEP is appropriate and that their educational needs are being met is imperative to their academic success. The New York State education law attorneys at Tully Rinckey can help you achieve your goals when it comes to your disabled child’s academic well-being.

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What is an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and Why is it Important?

Matters involving Special Education are governed by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA. These guidelines set forth the requirement that all school-aged children receive a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) and which measures are to be taken if a student requires more resources than their peers to receive a FAPE. An Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is used to help set goals and define the resources needed to help a student with a disability get the most out of their education. There are strict guidelines regarding what is included in an IEP plan and the frequency with which IEP plans are evaluated and updated. If your child has an IEP plan, Tully Rinckey’s special education lawyers can help make sure your child’s needs and rights aren’t being neglected. If you suspect your child has a disability that requires an IEP but currently does not have one in place, our education attorneys can help you through the process of requesting an evaluation of your child’s performance and needs.

What is included in an Individualized Education Plan (IEP)?

An IEP sets the stage for a child’s academic success. As such, it is vital that all aspects regarding performance, goals, services, and evaluation are carefully considered and addressed within the plan.

Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) are updated annually at a minimum. Each child’s plan must include the following:

  • The present academic and functional performance of the child.
  • Specific education goals for the academic year.
    • How such goals will be monitored for progress.
    • Services to be given to the student
  • Timeline of services (start date, end date, frequency, etc.)
  • Environmental accommodations.
  • Modifications to the learning path.
  • How the child will participate in standardized testing.
  • Inclusion in general education classes and
  • Transition services (for students 16 and older).
  • How the student will participate in the general education setting, and if not, why the student is being excluded, and the plan to maximize their time with non-disabled peers.

Should any of the required sections of your child’s IEP be missing, or if you think the goals and services detailed in your child’s IEP are insufficient, it is imperative that you speak to an education attorney as soon as possible to ensure that your child is receiving a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).

Who is Eligible for an IEP?

To be eligible for an Individualized Education Plan, a student must fall into at least one of the thirteen disability categories listed in the IDEA. These thirteen categories are as follows:

  1. Specific Learning Disability (SLD)
    • Conditions that affect a child’s ability to read, write, listen, or speak, such as dyslexia.
  2. Other Health Impairment
    • Conditions that limit a child’s alertness, strength, or energy, such as ADHD.
  3. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
    • A developmental disability that affects how a child communicates and learns.
  4. Emotional Disturbance
    • Conditions related to mental health include bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and more.
  5. Speech or Language Impairment
    • Conditions related to the processing of speech, such as stuttering or issues verbally expressing oneself.
  6. Visual Impairment, including Blindness
    • Any loss of vision that cannot be corrected with eyewear.
  7. Deafness
    • Total loss of hearing, which cannot be corrected with hearing aids.
  8. Hearing Impairment
    • Any loss of hearing that is not considered deafness.
  9. Deaf-blindness
    1. A condition resulting from severe hearing and vision loss.
  10. Orthopedic Impairment
    • A condition in which there is a lack of function in a person’s body, such as cerebral palsy.
  11. Intellectual Disability
    • Characterized by the presence of below-average intellectual abilities.
  12. Traumatic Brain Injury
    • A brain injury caused by an accident or severe force
  13. Multiple Disabilities
    • This categorization is left for children who fall under more than one classification, as they have co-presenting disabilities.

How to Start the IEP Process

If you suspect your child’s educational needs are not being met due to a disability, you should contact their school as soon as possible to request an evaluation for special education services. Once an evaluation request is received, the school has 10 days to provide parents with a consent form to evaluate the student in all suspected areas of disability that will be sent to the parent, and then the school district has 60 calendar days from the date of consent to evaluate the student, hold an IEP meeting, and recommend an appropriate placement if the student is eligible for an IEP. A knowledgeable education law attorney can help you prepare and send a letter to your child’s school district demanding an evaluation take place and ensuring that the recommendations by the school are ones that provide a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) for your child.

Requesting an Updated IEP for Your Child

While it is required that a child’s IEP be reviewed no less than once per academic year, parents and guardians may request an updated Individualized Education Plan at any time if they believe their child’s educational needs are not being met by the current plan in place.

Some examples of reasons to request a new IEP include having inadequate goals or insufficient services listed in the plan. If a student has had the same goal on their IEP year after year, it is likely that this goal may be inappropriate for the child’s development. On the other hand, if the goals listed in an IEP are attained too quickly, this could be a sign that the goals are inappropriate in that they are too easily achieved. Having goals in an IEP plan that are both appropriate and attainable is of the utmost importance to a child’s academic success.



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Tully Rinckey’s attorneys are here to assist you, no matter what problem you are facing. Our qualified and experienced attorneys will handle your case with the utmost regard and attention. We defend the rights of all students with disabilities and their parents.

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