What to Look for In Your Special Education Student’s 2021-2022 IEP

What to Look for In Your Special Education Student’s 2021-2022 IEP

Now is the time to take action to ensure the best success for your Orange County student in the 2021-2022 school next year.  It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3.  

  1. Request an updated assessment.  
  2. Request an IEP meeting.  
  3. Request compensatory education.  

After fifteen months of school closure, hybrid schedules and distance learning, children have lost educational opportunities, knowledge and academic skills, and many have suffered mental and emotional harm from the isolation and other stressful events of the past year.  These impacts are widespread and much of the loss and harm will not be evident until next year, when our children are back in school next year as we return to normalcy.  Moore Law for Children wants you to know that now is the time to act in order to best prepare your child (and their IEP team) to prime your child for success.

Request an assessment 

If your child does not already have special education services and you want to have him or her assessed, request an initial evaluation for special education eligibility. IDEA states that a student must be assessed in all areas related to his or her suspected disability, including if appropriate, health, vision, hearing, social and emotional status, general intelligence, academic performance, communicative status, and motor abilities, and no single procedure may be used as the sole criterion for determining whether the student has a disability or whether the student’s educational program is appropriate. (20 U.S.C. Section 1414 (a)(2),(3) & (e); Ed. Code, § 56320, subds. (e) & (f); 34 C.F.R. Section 300.304(c)(4).)  A school district’s failure to conduct appropriate assessments or to assess in all areas of suspected disability may constitute a procedural denial of a Free Appropriate Public Education (“FAPE”). (Park v. Anaheim Union High School District, et al. (9th Cir. 2006) (464 F.3d 1025, 1031-1033.)  

If your child already has an Individual Education Plan (“IEP”), request an updated assessment to measure potential loss or regression or for new areas of suspected disability.  Typically, an assessment plan must be provided within 15 days of a referral or parent request for an assessment, or within 10 days if requested in the last 10 days of the school year.  (Cal. Educ. Code 56321.)  Then, the assessment must be completed within 60 days of parent consent to the assessment plan, unless the assessment is consented to in the last 30 days of the school year, then the assessment must be conducted within the first 30 days of the next school year.  . (California Education Code section 56344.) 

It is critical to make this request now, before the school year is over, in order to have your child assessed and an IEP meeting held within the first 30 days of the new school year.  Otherwise, it will take as long as 75 days, even if you request it on the first day of school.

Make your request for an assessment in writing and send via email or fax so you have a record of the date it was sent.  Specify the areas you want your child to be assessed and the reasons why.  For initial assessments, request a comprehensive evaluation in all areas.  For updated assessments, request areas that are most likely to have been affected by school closures and distance learning such as academic achievement and social emotional.  If you are concerned about regression or stagnation in any other area, request assessments in those areas also, such as speech and language, OT or PT.  In your written request, state:

  •  The assessment plan must be provided within 15 days (or 10 days of the last 10 days of the school year). (Cal. Ed. Code 56321)
  • The assessment must be completed within the first 30 days of school resuming when requested in the last 30 days of the school year. (Cal. Ed. Code 56344)
  • You want a copy of the assessment report two (2) days before the IEP meeting in order to review and prepare for the meeting for meaningful parental participation.
  • Provide notice you intend to record the meeting. (Cal. Ed. Code 56341.1(g).

Request an IEP meeting 

IEP meetings must be held annually to determine whether the child’s needs are being met.  (34 C.F.R. 300.324 (b).) An IEP team may be requested at any time to address any lack of expected progress toward annual goals, the results of any re-evaluation, information provided by the parents related to evaluations, the child’s anticipated or new needs.  (34 C.F.R. 300.324(a)(4); (Cal. Educ. Code Section 56343.)  Now is the time to request an IEP for the purpose of reviewing progress on goals during distance learning and modifying the IEP as needed for your child for next year.   A meeting of an IEP team requested by a parent to review an IEP must be held within thirty (30) days, not counting days of vacation in excess of five school days, from the date of receipt of the parent’s written request. (Cal. Educ. Code 56343.5.)  You want to make the request now, so it is held by the end of the year or very shortly after school reopens in the fall.

Make a written request for an IEP meeting to review progress on goals and send via email or fax so you have a record of the date it was requested.  Ask for the data to be provided so you ensure that your child has been observed and data collected to measure the progress.  In your written request, state:

  • The IEP must be held within 30 days of the request (not including school breaks over five days). (Cal. Ed. Code 56343.5.)
  • You want a copy of the progress on goals report and the underlying data two (2) days before the IEP meeting in order to review and prepare for the meeting for full parent participation. 
  • Provide notice you intend to record the meeting. (Cal. Ed. Code 56341.1(g).

Request compensatory education

After school closures in March of 2020, the California Department of Education stated: “Given the unprecedented situation created by the threat of COVID-19, exceptional circumstances may affect how a particular service is provided under a student’s IEP. In such a situation, the IEP team will need to make individualized decisions regarding whether compensatory services are required when the regular provision of services resumes.”  Educational need can be measured by assessing whether or not the student continued making progress in their academic curriculum, or if they made progress toward meeting their IEP goals, or if any regression occurred.  Therefore, after new assessment or a meeting reviewing your child’s progress on goals, determine if compensatory education is needed to bring your child to where they would have been if not for the interruption in their education due to the school closures and distance learning.

Enough time has been lost.  Take action now to get your child back on track with their education.  Request an assessment.  Request an IEP meeting.  Request compensatory education. 

This is your child.  These are your rights.  This is the time to act.

Please call Moore Law for Children to schedule a consultation to discuss your goals and learn how we can help you through this process.