A Brief Parent’s Guide to the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) Process

Guest Authored By Rachel M, MSW, LSW

Blue Bird Day and IEP Process

Individualized Education Plans, or IEPs, can be a source of stress for families of children with a disabilityIt can be a complicated process and oftentimes, families do not know where to start when trying to procure their child an IEP. IEPs are especially important if your child will be attending public school, as they will identify what supports and services they will receive in their next school setting, outline their goals, and ensure a successful transition to best meet your child’s educational needs. Here are some tips and information to help get you started!  

Starting the IEP process  

  • Start the IEP process early: the more time, the better!  
  • Formally request an evaluation with Citywide Assessment Teams  
  • The request should include an explanation of your child’s educational concerns and any supporting documentation as well as indicate your consent for your child to be evaluated 
  • Reach out to your child’s BBD classroom teacher: they can help you fill out the forms, send over your child’s most recent evaluation and IITSP, and even attend the IEP meeting with you if you would like the support!  

Important dates and timelines  

  • The school must provide the parent written notice of their decision to evaluate their child for an IEP within 14 school days of receiving the request. 
  • The IEP evaluation must be completed, and the IEP team must determine eligibility for special education services, within 6school days after the date the parent provides written consent to conduct the evaluations. Keep in mind these are school days and do not include the summer/holiday breaksAnother reason to start this process sooner rather than later!  
  • Parents/Guardians must receive copies of the draft evaluations at least 3 school days prior to the eligibility meeting for their review.  
  • Re-evaluations are every three years! 

Final IEP thoughts 

  • Review your child’s draft IEP before the eligibility meeting so you can come to the meeting prepared with any questions or concerns.  
  • You can have an advocate/support at the meeting: bring someone that has a good relationship with your child and family and that knows them well—teacher, therapist, caregiver, etc.  
  • Speak up if something doesn’t sound right! You are the expert on your child and their best advocate to make sure they get the supports they need 😊  

Lastly, remind yourself that this can be an emotional journey and is hard work— congratulate yourself for getting this done! Also, remember that you are not alone in thisnever hesitate to reach out to your Blue Bird Day team for support during this process.   

References and further reading 

Chapter 3 – Referral: Educational Rights and Responsibilities: Understanding Special Education in Illinois https://www.isbe.net/Documents/ch3-referral.pdf  

CPS Office of Diverse Learner Supports and Services https://www.cps.edu/services-and-supports/special-education/understanding-special-education/special-education-process/