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Who Writes the School-Age IEP?


Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for school-age students are written collaboratively, with input from an entire team. The team is composed of:

  • The parents of the child;
  • At least one regular education teacher of the child (if the child is or may be participating in the regular education environment);
  • At least one special education teacher;
  • A school district representative who is knowledgeable about the general education curriculum and the availability of resources and who is responsible for ensuring that the IEP, when finalized, is carried out as planned (this person is often referred to as the LEA representative because the school district is the local education agency (LEA));
  • Someone who can interpret evaluation results contained within the Evaluation Report; and
  • Others with knowledge about the child as requested by the parent or district, for example, speech therapists or behavioral consultants.

One person may fill multiple roles on the IEP team, when appropriate. Also, at any particular IEP meeting, the parents and school may agree in writing that a team member's presence is not necessary at that particular meeting.

In addition to the individuals on the list above, the parents may also invite anyone else they choose to the meeting. This may be a family friend, who is there for moral support or to take notes, or a therapist or doctor who has treated the child. When your child is older, your child should also be included in all or part of the IEP team meeting, as appropriate. If the parents and the school agree, some states provide IEP facilitators who can attend IEP meetings as a neutral party with the responsibility of ensuring that the perspectives of all team members are heard and that the team focuses on relevant issues. Most meetings do not need or use an IEP facilitator, however.

All members of the IEP team will be invited in writing to the meeting. The meeting will usually be held at the child's school or at an administrative office within the educational agency/district which oversees the school. If the parents are not able to attend in person, they may join the meeting by phone or videoconference.

Special education personnel may bring a draft copy of the IEP to team meetings, but the draft IEP must be open for discussion and parent input. Parents may find it helpful to ask that any draft IEP be shared with the parents before the IEP meeting. Having a copy of the draft can make things go faster at the meeting. You should speak up if you think there is something that needs to be included in your child's IEP. Even if you don't feel comfortable writing text yourself, one of the other team members can take your ideas and write them into the document.

Many parents feel overwhelmed by the IEP writing process. It can be stressful knowing that the plan you help create is what is guiding the services and hopefully the progress your child will make. However, take comfort in knowing that the IEP that you create is able to be changed. Each student's IEP must be reviewed at least once a year to determine whether the annual goals for the child are being achieved. At the annual IEP meeting, the team will evaluate the student's progress and will set new goals and reevaluate supports to make sure they are working or are still needed.

Additionally, any IEP team member, including you, the parent, may request an IEP meeting at any time and does not need to wait for the annual meeting. If you are concerned that your child is not making progress under an existing IEP, or if you realize a needed support is missing, request an IEP team meeting in writing to amend the existing document. Once you make a request in writing, the IEP team will reconvene and rewrite the IEP document as needed. Alternatively, if you and the school agree on the changes that need to be made, you may agree to waive a meeting and instead develop a written document to amend the existing IEP.

Additional Resources

The Center for Autism Research and The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia do not endorse or recommend any specific person or organization or form of treatment. The information included within the CAR Autism Roadmap™ and CAR Resource Directory™ should not be considered medical advice and should serve only as a guide to resources publicly and privately available. Choosing a treatment, course of action, and/or a resource is a personal decision, which should take into account each individual's and family's particular circumstances.