What the heck is an IEP really?

The boring, technically correct, and not really useful answer – “… the term individualized education program or IEP means a written statement for each child with a disability that is developed, reviewed, and revised in a meeting …” (1)

Dear Chelsea and Steve – What is an IEP? How does it work? Individual or Individualized? Program or Plan? What is it really?

Confused in Calistoga

The shortest, most important answer is that it is a contract that replaces the (never written down elsewhere except in lots of Educational Code that no one reads or understands) default education contract between you and your school district to educate your child.

… and, like a used car contract, if it isn’t written down, it isn’t part of the agreement.

… and, like when you buy a house, it has a lot of things in it… and they are very, very important.

The power of the IEP is that it allows your education contract to be infinitely tailored with the goal of providing a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) in a Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) if your child qualifies under the Individuals with Disabilities Act.

The danger of the IEP is that it allows your education contract to be infinitely tailored by you and others who may not understand what an IEP is and can do, that there are not good default “terms and conditions” (that make buying a house a massive paperwork exercise but that protect you), and that some people use it to do “what they think is best for your child” which has nothing to do with providing a Free and Appropriate Public Education in a Least Restrictive Environment…. but if you sign it, and agree to it… that is what you get.

Lots more to follow.

Steve

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(1) Code of Federal Regulations – Title 34 – Education – § 300.320 -Definition of individualized education program

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