Individual Education Programs
The Individuals with Disabilities Improvement Education Act of 2004 (“IDEA”) is a federal law that ensures all children with disabilities are provided a free appropriate public education (“FAPE”). The provisions of the IDEA are also provided for in North Carolina law.
An Individualized Education Program (“IEP”) is a written legal document that outlines a student’s special education program. The IEP is developed by a team, which includes the student’s parents and teachers and contains the specially designed instruction, related services, and supports a student with a disability receives so that they can make progress in school. An IEP is designed to meet a student’s unique needs. Eligible students with disabilities who attend public schools (including charter schools) are entitled to have an IEP.
Parents or school staff can refer a student to the school if they suspect the student would benefit from specially designed instruction. Once the referral is made, a referral IEP meeting will be scheduled. During the referral meeting, the IEP team, which includes the parents, will discuss why the student needs, or does not need, an IEP. The school will then conduct evaluations of the student. In some cases, the school may contract with a private provider to conduct one or more evaluations of the student.
Once the evaluations are conducted, the IEP team will meet again. The team will determine whether the student is eligible to receive specially designed instruction, related services, and accommodations, and will develop the student’s IEP. The IEP must be reviewed at least annually.
If a school fails to develop an appropriate IEP, does not comply with the IEP, or otherwise violates the civil rights of a student with an IEP, the parents/guardians may be entitled to take administrative or judicial action by filing a State Complaint with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction or a Due Process Petition with the North Carolina Office of Administrative Hearings.
The Law Office of Neubia L. Harris, PLLC assists parents/guardians at each stage of the IEP process from referral through litigation.