Special Education Terms
From time to time differences of opinion regarding the education of a student arise. Differences may develop about the evaluation of a student, his or her eligibility for special education services, the placement of the student as well as the provisions of Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). When differences of opinion occur and these differences cannot be resolved among the individuals involved, one way to solve them is through due process.
Due process is a broad term that provides multiple opportunities to resolve differences prior to engaging in an impartial due process hearing. Those opportunities may include mediation (also referred to as an AEA resolution facilitator process), a pre-appeal conference and/or a resolution conference. As the formality of the dispute resolution procedures increases, the Iowa Department of Education becomes involved. If no resolution can be reached between the individuals involved, a determination will be made by an administrative law judge at the conclusion of an impartial due process hearing.
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Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)
FAPE, as defined in the 2006 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), means “Special education and related services that are provided at public expense, under public supervision and direction, and without charge; meet the standards of the State educational agency; include an appropriate preschool, elementary school, or secondary school education in the State involved; and are provided in conformity with an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) that meets the requirements under IDEA.”
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Individualized Education Programs (IEPs)
The term Individualized Education Program (IEP) is defined as a written statement for each child with a disability that describes the student’s special educational program as outlined in 281–Iowa Administrative Code 41.22. The purpose of the IEP is to provide a plan designed to meet the educational needs of an eligible individual and to commit the resources necessary to meet those needs. Each IEP is a legal document that spells out, among other things, the special education services, activities and supports each student will receive. A school or area education agency (AEA) must ensure that there is an IEP team for each child with a disability who is eligible for special education services. This team is responsible for developing the IEP for the child.
The IEP is based on the following guiding principles:
- The IEP is a process and product that documents that the student is receiving a free appropriate public education (FAPE) consistent with all federal and state requirements.
- To the maximum extent appropriate, students are educated and participate with other students with disabilities and non-disabled children in the general education environment.
- IEP development is a collaborative process.
- The IEP team develops a program that is designed so that the student can progress toward meeting annual IEP goals, be involved in and progress in the general curriculum, participate in non-academic and extracurricular activities and be educated with non-disabled peers.
- The IEP process involves ongoing progress monitoring, and decision-making is based on the student’s needs to improve the student’s results.
- Initial IEP – The IEP is developed at a meeting following the completion of a full and individual evaluation, and the determination of eligibility for special education services.
- IEP Review – IEP reviews are conducted periodically, but must be conducted at least annually. Changes will be made to reflect growth in present levels of academic achievement and function performance over the past year.
- IEP Re-evaluation – Re-evaluations of eligible individuals are required at a minimum, every three years, or sooner if needed.