Special Education and IEPs in California

California Special Education Lawyer
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Special Education and IEPs in California

An IEP or Individualized Education Plan is both an ongoing process and a legal document. In order for a student to receive special education services and be classified with a disability, the student must have a current and updated Individualized Education Plan.

An IEP must be truly unique and tailored for the child it is written for. The IEP team is responsible for creating, discussing, finalizing, and upholding the document. In California, this team consists of the parent/guardian, a general education teacher, a special education teacher, a qualified LEA (Local Educational Agency) or representative from the school, other personnel such as speech pathologists, psychologists, and sometimes the student themselves. Students will only participate if he or she is old enough and would benefit from participating.

The process begins with the student being identified as potentially needing services. This identification can come from a parent, teacher or specialist. Once identified, the school has 15 days to have the parent sign off on a plan to evaluate the child. Once signed, the school has 60 days to both have the evaluation completed, typically by an objective person from the school, and conduct the initial meeting. If services are deemed necessary the initial meeting will be held, the findings will be reviewed, and an IEP will be drafted and reviewed.

The document must contain the following: date when the services begin and end, present levels of academic achievement written by the student’s teacher(s), long term and short term goals that can be measured and attained within the time given, the services the child has qualified for (classroom setting, speech therapy, occupational therapy, etc.), participation in state and local testing, and the extent that the student will participate with non-disabled peers.

The parent then has the right to either consent to the legal document and sign it, take it home to look over and then sign and return it, or refuse the document. If the document is refused, the school does not have the right to provide any new services. If the plan is being reviewed or renewed, the prior plan will stay in effect until further notice. The team will meet yearly for an annual review at a minimum, and a parent or teacher can ask for a meeting at any point through the year. If at any time the parent believes the services described are not being met, he/she can file for due process.

The Law Office of Justin Anton McCrea provides zealous advocacy and representation to children that are trying to get or are receiving special education services from the public education system in California. Call our special education lawyer at 916-601-9441 or contact us online.

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