Special Education: Individualized Education Program

What is my child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP)?

Once it is determined that your child is eligible for special education services under the IDEA, an individualized education program will be developed to meet the particular needs of your child. The term “individualized education program” or “IEP” is a written plan detailing your child’s special education program as designed by the Planning and Placement Team (PPT). As a parent and member of your child’s PPT, it is vital that you influence and help develop your child’s IEP. The PPT must consider the strengths of your child, the concerns you have in enhancing the education of your child, the results of the initial or most recent evaluation of your child, and the academic, developmental, and functional needs of your child.[1] Taking these factors into account allows for the PPT to create a specialized IEP geared toward providing your child with the best opportunity to satisfy their individual needs.

How is my child’s IEP developed? What are the requirements that my child’s IEP must provide?

A PPT meeting to develop your child’s IEP must be conducted within thirty (30) days following a determination that your child is eligible and in need of special education and related services. Subsequent to the development of your child’s IEP, special education and related services must be made available in accordance with his or her IEP.

Detailed components of the content required in your child’s IEP are set out in the IDEA as follows:

  • A statement of your child’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance, including how your child’s disability affects his or her involvement and progress in the general education curriculum.
  • A statement of measurable annual goals, including academic and functional goals designed to meet your child’s educational needs pertaining to their disability and to ensure that your child be involved in and make progress in the general curriculum and meet other educational needs that result from his or her disability.
  • A description of how your child’s progress in meeting their annual goals will be measured, and when periodic reports on the progress of your child meeting his or her annual goals will be provided.
  • A statement of the special education and related services to be provided to your child. This statement shall also include any supplemental aids and services to be provided to your child, as well as a statement of the program modification or supports for school personnel that will be provided for your child:
    •  To advance appropriately toward him or her attaining their annual goals
    • To be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum,
    • To participate in extracurricular and other nonacademic activities, and
    • To be educated and participate with other children with disabilities and non-disabled children
  • An explanation of the extent, if any, to which your child will not participate with non-disabled children in the regular class and other school activities.
  •  A statement of any individual appropriate accommodations necessary to measure through State and district-wide assessments the academic achievement and functional performance of your child. However, if the PPT determines that your child requires an alternate assessment, they must state why and in which way the student will be assessed.
  •  A statement of when the projected date for the beginning of special education services is to begin, along with the anticipated frequency, location, and duration of those services.
  • A statement effective no later than the first PPT meeting that occurs after your child attains the age of 16, and updated annually thereafter regarding appropriate measurable post-secondary goals related to training, education, employment, and, where applicable, independent living skills. Moreover, at least one year prior to your child reaching the age of majority under State law, a statement must be made that your child has been informed of his or her rights, if any, under the IDEA that will transfer to him or her upon reaching majority.[2]

Although the above requirements must be included in your child’s IEP, this list is not all-inclusive. Additional means in achieving the best possible educational plan for your child should be included whenever necessary. PPTs must satisfy each child’s unique needs and, if necessary, develop further activities beyond the expressed requirements to fully develop a child’s IEP.[3] As a parent, you must receive a copy of your child’s IEP at no cost within five (5) school days following any PPT meeting held to develop or revise your child’s IEP.

Your local educational agency must ensure that your child’s IEP is accessible to each regular education teacher, special education teacher, and related service provider responsible for implementing the plan. Each teacher and provider must be informed of their specific responsibilities as it pertains to your child’s IEP and the specific accommodations, modifications, and support that must be provided for your child in accordance with their IEP needs.[4]

Will my child’s IEP be reviewed? What is the process in revising my child’s IEP?

The IDEA sets forth rules concerning the review and revision of your child’s IEP. The local educational agency must ensure that the IEP team (PPT) reviews your child’s IEP periodically, but not less than annually, to determine whether the annual goals for your child are being achieved.[5] Moreover, the local education agency is required to revise the IEP to appropriately address:

  •  Any lack of expected progress toward the annual goals,
  • Any lack of expected progress in the general curriculum,
  • The results of any evaluation,
  •  Information about your child provided by you as his or her parent, or
  • Your child’s anticipated needs[6]

The IDEA requires that your child’s regular education teacher, consistent with their membership on the PPT, participate in the review and revision of his or her IEP.[7] In modifying your child’s IEP following an annual IEP meeting, a parent and the local educational agency may agree not to convene an additional IEP meeting to modify your child’s IEP and instead develop a written document to amend the current IEP.[8] Parents should be provided within five (5) school days with a copy of the revised IEP following any amendments.

What will happen to my child’s  IEP  if he or she is to transfer schools?

If you are planning to move to a different school district within Connecticut or are being transferred to a new job out of state, there are procedures and regulations that the new local education agency must follow to allow for a smooth transition pertaining to your child’s IEP.

If your child had an IEP in effect and you enroll your child in a new school in Connecticut, the new school must provide FAPE, which includes services comparable to those provided by your child’s prior school as described in his or her IEP. The new school district must adhere to your child’s IEP from their prior school until the new school adopts it as its own IEP, or develops, adopts, and implements a new IEP that meets all the requirements described in the IDEA and applicable state law.[9] Similar procedures and requirements apply to your child’s IEP if you are relocating to a new state. However, the school district in your new state may conduct its own evaluation in accordance with the IDEA to determine if it is necessary to develop, adopt and/or implement a new IEP in accordance with the IDEA and the new State’s law. [10]

In transitioning your child from one school to another, the new school must take reasonable steps to promptly obtain your child’s records, which include their IEP and any other supporting documents relating to their special education needs. Your child’s former school district must take reasonable steps to respond to the records request from the new school that your child is enrolled in.[11]

What are Related Services?

Under the IDEA, the term “related services” means transportation and such developmental, corrective, and other supportive services as may be required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education.[12]

The following are examples of related services:

  • speech-language pathology and audiology services
  • interpreting services
  • psychological services
  • physical and occupational therapy
  • recreation, including therapeutic recreation
  • social work services
  • counseling services, including rehabilitation counseling
  • orientation, mobility, and medical services (except that such medical services shall be for diagnostic and evaluation purposes only)

Your child’s need for related services will be determined by your child’s PPT, and services shall be implemented as part of their IEP. Your child’s school district is responsible for the costs of implementing related services pertaining to your child’s needs as part of its requirement to provide a FAPE, which, by definition, includes related services.

What is Assistive Technology?

The term “assistive technology device” means any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of a child with a disability.[13] These devices can range from specialized drinking cups to more sophisticated technologies, such as computers and motorized wheelchairs.

The term “assistive technology service” means any service that directly assists a child with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device. Assistive technology services include:

  • the evaluation of the needs of your child, including a functional evaluation of your child in his or her customary environment;
  •  purchasing, leasing, or otherwise providing for the acquisition of assistive technology devices for your child;
  • selecting, designing, fitting, customizing, adapting, applying, maintaining, repairing, or replacing assistive technology devices;
  • coordinating and using other therapies, interventions, or services with assistive technology devices, such as those associated with existing education and rehabilitation plans and programs;
  • training or technical assistance for your child, or, where appropriate, your child’s family; and
  • training or technical assistance for professionals (including individuals providing education and rehabilitation services), employers, or other individuals who provide services to, employ, or are otherwise substantially involved in the major life functions of your child.[14]

As part of the school district’s obligation to provide your child with a FAPE, assistive technology and services may be required to ensure accommodation of your child’s individual needs. If the school district pays for the device, then it owns it. If your child’s device was purchased through Medicaid or private insurance, then it belongs to your child.

Contact an Experienced Education Law Attorney

Our attorneys have years of experience representing education law clients in the states of New York and Connecticut. With offices located in New York City and Westport, we strive to provide large firm service while maintaining the small firm attention and accountability you deserve.  us today for assistance with your Individualized Education Program questions. Call 212-682-5700 for our New York offices or 203-221-3100 for our Connecticut office.


[1] 34 C.F.R. §300.324.
[2] 20 U.S.C. §1414(d)(1)(A)(i)(I)-(VII).
[3] 20 U.S.C. §1414(d)(1)(ii).
[4] 34 C.F.R. §300.323(d)(1)-(2).
[5] 20 U.S.C. §1414(d)(4)(A)(i).
[6] 20 U.S.C. §1414(d)(4)(A)(ii).
[7] 20 U.S.C. §1414(d)(4)(B).
[8] 20 U.S.C. §1414(d)(3)(D).
[9] 20 U.S.C. §1414(d)(C)(i)(I).
[10] 20 U.S.C. §1414(d)(C)(i)(II).
[11] 20 U.S.C. §1414(d)(C)(ii).
[12] 20 U.S.C.A. §1401(26)(a).
[13] 20 U.S.C.A. §1401(1)(A).
[14] 20 U.S.C.A. §1401(2)(A)-(F).