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The Individualized Education Plan

The Individualized Education Plan - The Blueprint for Special Education

The Big Picture

The IEP has two general purposes: (1) to establish measurable annual goals for the child; and (2) to state the special education and related services and supplementary aids and services that the Wilton Public Schools will provide to the student. When constructing an appropriate educational program for a child with a disability, the IEP team broadly considers the child's involvement and participation in three main areas of school life:

  • the general education curriculum,
  • extracurricular activities, and
  • Non-academic activities.

General education curriculum is defined as the subject matter provided to all children and the associated skills they are expected to develop and apply. Examples include math, science, history, and language arts.

Extracurricular activities and non-academic activities are defined as school sponsored activities that fall outside the realm of the general curriculum. These are usually voluntary and tend to be more social than academic. They typically involve others of the same age and may be organized and guided by teachers or other school personnel. Examples: yearbook, school newspaper, school sports, school clubs, lunch, recess, band, pep rallies, assemblies, field trips, after-school programs, recreational clubs.

The IEP is the blueprint, or plan, for the special education experience of a child with a disability across these school environments.

Who Develops the IEP?

The IEP is developed by a team of school personnel and the child's parents. This team meets at least once a year and more often, if necessary. Team members work together to craft an education that will address the child's individual needs and enable the child to participate in general education and school activities, learning alongside his or her nondisabled peers to the maximum extent appropriate (LRE). The IEP team then puts its crafted plan down in writing-resulting in the IEP that will guide the delivery of the child's special education and related services.

What an IEP Must Contain?

When the members of a child's IEP team sit down together and consider how the child will be involved in and participate in school life, they must be sure that the resulting IEP contains the specific information required by IDEA. The IDEA requires that each IEP contain the following:

  • A statement of the child's present levels of academic achievement and functional performance, including how the 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;
  • A description of how the child's progress toward meeting the annual goals will be measured, and when periodic progress reports will be provided;
  • A statement of the special education and related services and supplementary aids and services to be provided to the child, or on behalf of the child;
  • The projected date for the beginning of the services and modifications, and the anticipated frequency, location, and duration of those services and modifications.
  • A statement of the program modifications or supports for school personnel that will be provided to enable the child to advance appropriately toward attaining the annual goals; to be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum and to participate in extracurricular and other nonacademic activities; and to be educated and participate with other children with disabilities and nondisabled children;
  • An explanation of the extent, if any, to which the child will not participate with nondisabled children in the regular class and in extracurricular and nonacademic activities, and;
  • A statement of any individual accommodations that are necessary to measure the academic achievement and functional performance of the child on State and district wide assessments (Note: If the IEP team determines that the child must take an alternate assessment instead of a particular regular State or district wide assessment of student achievement, the IEP must include a statement of why the child cannot participate in the regular assessment and why the particular alternate assessment selected is appropriate for the child.

The Connecticut State Department of Education provides all Connecticut school districts with the IEP form that must be used in Connecticut's public schools. - Independent Educational Evaluation Criteria

Transition Planning - Extra IEP Content for Youth with Disabilities

For students approaching the end of their secondary school education (age 16 and above), the IEP must also include statements about what are called transition services, which are designed to help youth with disabilities prepare for life after high school.

IDEA requires that, beginning not later than the first IEP to be in effect when the child turns 16, or younger if determined appropriate by the IEP team, the IEP must include:

  • measurable postsecondary goals based upon age-appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment, and, where appropriate, independent living skills; and
  • The transition services (including courses of study) needed to assist the child in reaching those goals.

Also, beginning no later than one year before the child reaches the age of 18, the IEP must include:

  • A statement that the child has been informed of the child's rights under Part B of IDEA (if any) that will transfer to the child on reaching the age of majority.

The Planning and Placement Team Meeting

At its essence the Planning and Placement Team meeting is a collaborative problem-solving process. All members of the team, including the parents, should come to the table with an open mind ready to listen to the varied perspectives of the entire team. Each and every individual with a disability presents with a different constellation of strengths and challenges that require a creative and collaborative approach to planning. Successful teams understand from the beginning that this process is complex and dynamic and must respond to the changing needs of a student throughout their educational career. Open and honest communication is essential to the process. Each student must have at least one PPT annually to determine the contents of the IEP. Meetings during the year can be held to adjust to changing needs. Any member of the team, including parents, can request a PPT to discuss progress and ask the team to consider adjustments based on that progress. PPT meetings are scheduled at mutually agreeable times for all team members. There are 5 primary types of PPT meetings. Each has a distinct purpose. Click on the links below to see them described in detail.

  • PPT 1 - Initial Referral
  • PPT 2 - Review Evaluation/Determine Eligibility
  • Annual Review
  • Triennial Review
  • Manifestation Determination

Conflict Resolutions Processes - What if we can't agree?

The Special Education Complaint Resolution Process

The special education complaint resolution process is a mechanism whereby a parent and/or other interested party or parties may file a written complaint with the Bureau of Special Education alleging that the local school district has violated a requirement of federal or state law concerning special education. Bureau staff will not look into any part of a complaint that is also part of a due process hearing until the final hearing decision has been made. If an issue raised in a complaint was already decided in a due process hearing with the same parties, the hearing decision is final and the issue raised in the complaint will not be reviewed. Similarly, if an issue involving the same parties was decided in a due process hearing, the issue will not be considered through the complaint resolution process. A complaint alleging that a school district has failed to carry out a final decision of a due process hearing must be resolved by the Bureau of Special Education of the State Department of Education.

How long do I have to file a complaint?
A complaint must be filed within one year of the time it is believed that the school district failed to follow the law.

How will I be notified of the results of the complaint investigation?
A written report of findings, conclusions, corrective action and recommendations, if appropriate, will be mailed within 60 calendar days of receipt of the request, unless an extension is granted for extenuating circumstances.

You can file a complaint by writing to:

Connecticut State Department of Education
Bureau of Special Education
P.O. Box 2219, Room 359
Hartford, CT 06145-2219 - FAX: (860) 713-7153

The complaint should state the following: that the school district is not carrying out IDEA or state laws that protect children with disabilities and the facts on which the complaint is based.

Due Process Directions and Forms


Conflict Resolution Process - What if we can't agree

Due Process Hearing

The due process hearing is a legal process in which a hearing officer appointed by the Due Process Unit of the Bureau of Special Education, State Department of Education, decides the resolution of a disagreement between you and the school district. A school district may request a due process hearing as well. Due process procedures include advisory opinions, hearings and expedited hearings.

Once a request for a hearing is made by the parent, several things will occur, some at the same time. The school district must offer to meet with you and relevant members of the PPT that have specific knowledge of the facts identified in the due process complaint within 15 calendar days of receiving notice of your request for a hearing. This is referred to as a resolution meeting. This resolution meeting gives both you and school staff a chance to discuss the due process complaint and resolve the problem. If you do not bring an attorney to the resolution meeting, the school cannot have an attorney at the meeting. If the dispute is not resolved within 30 days of receiving the complaint, the due process hearing the 45 day timeline to issue a hearing decision begins.

Does a resolution meeting have to be held?
No. You and the school can agree in writing to not hold the resolution meeting. Additionally, a resolution meeting would not have to be held if you and the school decide go to mediation.

Placement during Due Process Procedures: What happens to my child while a due process hearing is ongoing?
While a due process hearing is pending, your child's classification, program, or placement cannot be changed from what they were at the time a due process hearing was requested unless you and the school district agree otherwise. This is referred to as stay-put. However, there are exceptions to the stay-put provision. If you request due process because you disagree with a decision to remove your child from his/her education placement to an interim alternative education setting (IAES) for matters related to weapons, drugs or infliction of serious bodily injury, your child will remain in the IAES pending the decision of the hearing officer or the expiration of the time for which he or she was placed in that setting, whichever occurs first unless you and the school district agree otherwise. If you request a due process hearing to challenge a manifestation determination, stay-put would not apply and your child's placement could be changed while the due process procedures were happening.

What happens during a hearing?
You and the school district may present evidence, including expert testimony, cross-examine witnesses, and compel the presence of any witnesses. You and the school district must exchange copies of all documents and the names of all witnesses you intend to present no later than five business days prior to the hearing. Evaluations to be used at the hearing must be presented no later than five business days prior to the hearing. You must also provide this information to the hearing officer by the same deadline. A record of the hearing will be made. You have the right to obtain a written, or, at your request, electronic copy of the word for word record of the hearing as well as the hearing decision.

What has to happen before a due process hearing can begin?
The party receiving a request for a hearing, usually the school district, has 15 calendar days from the date the hearing request is received to notify the hearing officer and the other party in writing if they think the request for a hearing does not include required information. The hearing officer has to make a decision as to the adequacy of the hearing request within five calendar days. Once the hearing officer has reviewed these responses, the individual will decide if any other changes must be made to the hearing request.

When may I request due process hearing?
You may ask for a due process hearing within two years of the time the school district proposes or refuses to:

  • Consider or find that your child is disabled;
  • Evaluate your child;
  • Place your child in a school program that meets his or her needs; or
  • Provide your child with a free appropriate education that meets his or her needs.

Expedited Hearing
An expedited hearing is a hearing that is held quickly so that a situation can be addressed without undue delay. In an expedited hearing, the hearing must occur within 20 school days of the date the hearing is requested and the hearing officer must make his or her decision within ten school days of the close of the hearing. The parties involved in the hearing must exchange information to be presented as evidence at least two business days prior to an expedited hearing. An expedited hearing will be arranged when the following occurs:

  • The school district thinks that keeping your child in the current placement is highly likely to result in injury to your child or to others and the school district wants to put your child in an IAES for no more than 45 days;
  • The school district does not want your child, who is placed in an IAES, to return to his or her original placement at the end of the 45 day period because it believes your child is likely to injure him/herself or others in that placement;
  • You believe that the school district has improperly removed your child for more than ten consecutive school days;
  • You believe that the school district has improperly removed your child for more than ten school days in a school year;
  • You do not agree with the school district's placement of your child in an IAES; or
  • You do not agree with the manifestation determination.

The hearing officer may order that your child be returned to the placement from which he or she was removed or placed in an interim alternative education setting for no more than 45 school days if it is determined that keeping your child in the current placement will more than likely result in injury to the child or to others. The hearing officer may not order a placement in an IAES for more than 45 school days at any one time. However, the school may ask for this process to be repeated.

Mediation
What is mediation?
Mediation is a way to settle a dispute when you and school district do not agree on:

  • How or whether your child is disabled;
  • Evaluating your child;
  • Placing your child in a school program that meets his or her needs;
  • Or any other matters related to providing your child with a free appropriate public education that meets his or her needs.

Both you and the school district must agree to enter into mediation before it can occur. The mediation session will be held in a place and at a time that is convenient for both you and the school staff.

What happens during mediation?
The mediator will try to help you and the school district settle your differences. If you and the school district reach agreement on the issues, what you have agreed to will be put in writing. The mediation agreement is a legally binding contract enforceable in court. If you and the school district cannot reach agreement, the mediator will certify in writing that mediation has not resulted in an agreement. Discussions that take place during mediation are confidential and cannot be used as evidence at any subsequent due process hearing or court action.

Who may act as a mediator?
The State Department of Education, Bureau of Special Education, has a list of mediators and will assign a mediator on a random basis from a list of individuals who:

  • Are trained in mediation techniques;
  • Do not show favor to either the parent or the school district;
  • Are familiar with special education laws;
  • Are education consultants with Connecticut State Department of Education; and
  • Do not provide direct service to the child who is the subject of the mediation.

May I bring an advocate or lawyer to the mediation conference?
You may bring an advocate and/or lawyer with you to help you in the mediation conference. The school district may also bring a lawyer to the mediation conference. You will be responsible for the cost of your attorney's fees.

Do I have to try mediation?
Mediation is voluntary and may not be used to:

  • Deny or delay your right to a hearing; or
  • Deny any other rights that you have under state or federal special education law.

CT SDOE Request for Mediation form

Advisory Opinion
An advisory opinion is a non-binding opinion issued by a hearing officer after consideration of a brief presentation of information by both the parents and the school district. Based upon this non-binding opinion, you or the school may decide not to bring the matter to a full due process hearing and, instead, settle the dispute.

During the Advisory Opinion Process you and the school district will each have 45 minutes to present your case to a hearing officer. Each party may present one or two witnesses during their allotted time and introduce reliable and essential documents such as the most recent IEP, revisions to the IEP, educational evaluations, progress reports, transcripts, independent evaluations, and teacher narratives. You and the school district must exchange copies of any documents and the names of any witnesses you intend to present no later than five calendar days prior to the advisory opinion. You must also provide this information to the hearing officer at the same time. You will have 15 minutes to respond to the school district's presentation, and the school district will have 15 minutes to respond to yours. Afterwards, the hearing officer will render an oral opinion. No record will be made of the advisory opinion process. You may bring an advocate or lawyer and up to two witnesses with you to the advisory opinion session. The school district may also bring a lawyer and up to two witnesses. Each party is responsible for the cost of their respective attorney's fees. An advisory opinion is non-binding and does not restrict your right or the school district's right to engage in other forms of resolution such as mediation or due process hearing. Advisory opinion sessions are not open to the public and no record of the proceeding is made. The advisory opinion is confidential and may not be used as proof in any future due process hearing.

CT SDOE Request for Advisory Opinion

Please be advised that if you would like more information on these dispute resolutions processes please contact Andrea Leonardi, Assistant Superintendent, Special Services at (203) 762-3381 OR by email at leonardia@wiltonps.org