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An Individualized Educational Program (IEP) describes the special education and related services specifically designed to meet the unique educational needs of a student with a disability. The program is developed at one or more IEP meetings, and its provisions are detailed in writing in the IEP.


The IEP is developed by a committee that includes at least a school administrator, the student's teacher, the parents, and the student when appropriate. It contains goals and objectives based upon the student's present level of educational performance. These goals and objectives are outlined by those involved in planning and providing services. In addition, the IEP specifies the educational placement or setting, and the related services necessary to reach these goals and objectives. It also includes the date the services will begin, how long they will last, and the way in which student progress will be evaluated.


The IEP can be more than an outline and management tool of the student's special education program. It can be an opportunity for parents and educators to work together as equal participants to identify the student's needs, what will be provided to meet those needs, and what the anticipated outcomes may be. It is a document that is revised as the needs of the student change. The IEP is a commitment in writing of the resources the school agrees to provide. Also, the periodic review of the IEP serves as an evaluation of the student's progress toward meeting the educational goals and objectives. Finally, the IEP serves as the focal point for clarifying issues and cooperative decision making by parents, the student and school personnel in the best interest of the student. For all of these reasons, the IEP is the cornerstone of special education.




     15 days: An assessment plan must be sent to the parents within 15 calendar days of receipt of written request for special education.


      50 days: An IEP team meeting must be held within 50 calendar days of receipt of the signed assessment plan (The IEP Notification must be sent 10 calendar days prior to the IEP meeting)


      5 days: All student records MUST be made available within 5 school days of receipt of request of school records.


      30 days: Interim placements MUST NOT exceed 30 calendar days. An IEP team meeting must be held during the 30 day interim placement period.


      30 days: An IEP team meeting MUST be held within 30 calendar days of receipt of parents written request for review. 


WHAT IS A 504? 


A 504 plan is a legal document falling under the provisions of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. It is designed to plan a program of instructional services to assist students with special needs who are in a regular education setting. A 504 plan is not an Individualized Education Program (IEP) as is required for special education students. However, a student moving from a special education to a regular education placement could be placed under a 504 plan. A sample list of accommodations are presented below:

A child's seat assignment accommodates a disability.
A diabetic child may be permitted to eat in the classroom.
A child may be permitted to go to the office for the administration of medication.
A student's assignments or testing conditions may be adjusted (i.e. extensions of time, modification of test questions).
Note: This is a team process where all members of the team, not just the teacher, may have responsibilities in fulfilling the requirements of the 504 plan.



It is unfortunate that in this day and age, we as parents continue to struggle with our schools systems to get what our child needs to learn! There are many parents out there that do not have a clue how to begin to do that and that is because the information and resources aren't a given in many school systems.

EVERY child in this world learns in a different way! There are some children that need a little extra help and there are some children that may need a lot of help in school in order to get the very best out of their education. Below, you will find a variety of links and resources to help you with these often times frustrating processes.

The best advice I can possibly offer other parents is: RESEARCH AND LEARN YOUR RIGHTS AND YOUR CHILD'S RIGHTS -- You have them and so does your child! You can go to The Parenting Training & Information Page by State to find information, resources, support groups, advocates, etc. in your state.


NOTE!: These are just ideas on what you can ask for when developing your child's IEP or Section 504 Plan. Each child is different and may need different modifications or services on these plans.

  • Seat the child nearest to where the teacher does most of her/his instruction.
  • To help child stay on task -- seat child close to teacher's desk.
  • Have child sit next to a peer that can help, if needed.
  • Seat child away from distractions (i.e., door, windows).
  • Allow quiet space when needed.
  • Modify assignments (give 10 spelling words instead of 20, 10 math facts instead of 20) with incentives to work their way up.
  • Give one assignment (work paper) at a time.
  • Fold assignment in half (helps child feel less overwhelmed).
  • Give concise and clear directions and make sure child understands.
  • At least once a week contact with parents (phone, note, letter)
  • If child seems distracted -- a walk by desk, gently touching shoulder or desk rather than saying child's name out loud infront of whole class.
  • Never assume anything -- find out facts first if a problem arises. If it involves another or other students make sure ALL face consequences.
  • Allow use of calculator.
  • Allow use of small tape recorder (the child can go over lessons at home)
  • Allow use of computer for writing projects.
  • For children that go to resource -- allow child to go to resource to have a test read to them.
  • Allow short answers for child that has difficulties with the written word.
  • Allow longer time for tests (if a child has a learning disability -- timed tests can make them rush. Think Quality not Quantity!)
  • Remind child before they leave for the day to make sure everything is in bookbag.
  • Encourage child to skip trouble spots and go to next question. Many children get stuck and when time is up they'll rush to answer the questions.
  • Mark right answers instead of wrong answers.
  • Give child choices and involve child in self-improvement.
  • Textbooks at home so child can review lessons.
  • Books on Tape.


A Parent's Guide to Special Education/Special Needs
Accomodating the Learning Disabled Student in the Foreigh Language Curriculum: Section 504
Glossary of Special Education Terms
IEP Resources
IEP - Understand the IEP Program
Legal Resources for Special Education
Legal Rights & Responsibilities
National Center to Improve Practice in Special Education
Paula's Special Education Resources
Wrights Law 
Districts handle more requests for OT for Sensory issues 
IEP Samples
Law about SI therapy in school
Links to Special Education law/advocacy


  • Do your Research! Go to the public library or call your state's Parenting Training and Information Center for suggestions, advice and information.
  • Nobody should be developing your child's IEP or Section 504 without you! If this happens, DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING and tell them you want to schedule a meeting to help develop this plan.
  • If you aren't satisfied at the end of the meeting, ask for another meeting.
  • Bring a tape recorder to meeting. Tell them that you are going to bring one. If they say you can't, ask them to provide you with documentation that prohibits tape recorders. Tell them you will make copies for them. The reason for a tape recorder is to allow you to go over meeting at a later time. These meetings can be stressful.
  • A few days before a meeting, make a list of everything you want to discuss and make copies for everyone. If you can't get to everything on your list, request a second meeting to do so.
  • Bring an advocate that knows the ins and out of Special Education if possible.
  • The night before a meeting, put everything you want to bring in a folder.
  • If you do not understand something that is being said, DO NOT HESITATE to interrupt and ask it to be explained to you. Don't leave the meeting confused.
  • You can request that specific people be at this meeting and if they have confirmed and dropped out at the last minute, ask to reschedule meeting.
  • Go to meeting prepared and with a positive attitude. Show them that you are more than willing to work with them and that you want them to work with you. After all it's about your child -- who is the important person regarding all of this!
  • Make a list of what works for your child. Have it added to the IEP or Section 504 Plan. Do not sign until it's added.
  • If you feel the plan isn't being met, remind the teachers to read the plan. You can also make a copy of what is in the plan and put it in your child's binder. Let the teachers know it will be there for their review.
  • Keep in touch with teachers. Call them, write notes or letters. If you are concerned about anything, request a meeting.


ADA - Americans with Disabilities Act
ADD - Attention Deficit Disorder
ADHD - Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder
APE - Adaptive Physical Education
ASL - American Sign Language
AT - Assitive Technology
CAP - Corrective Action Plan
CAPD - Central Auditory Processing Disorder
CSE - Committee on Special Education
CPSE - Committee on Preschool Special Education
CST - Child Study Team
DD - Developmental Delay
ECE - Early Childhood Education
EI - Early Intervention
ESD - Extended School Day
ESY or EYS - Extended School Year or Extended Year Services
FAPE - Free Appropriate Public Education
FAS - Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
FBA - Functional Behavioral Assessment
FC - Facilitated Communication
HI - Hearing Impaired
HO - Hearing Officer
IA - Instructional Assistant
IDEA - Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
IEE - Individualized Educational Evaluation
IEP - Individualized Education Plan
IFSP - Individualized Family Service Plan
IHE - Institution of Higher Education
ITP - Individualized Transition Plan
LD - Learning Disability
LRE - Least Restrictive Environment
MH - Mental Health, Multiply Handicapped
MR - Mental Retardation
NDT - Neurodevelopmental Treatment
NPRM - Notice of Proposed Rule Making
OCD - Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
ODD - Oppositional Defiant Disorder
OHI - Other Health Impaired
OT - Occupational Theraphy
PALS - Peer-Assisted Learning System
PASS - Plan for Achieving Self-Support
PCA - Personal Care Attendant
PD - Physical Disability
PDD - Pervasive Developmental Disorder
PLEP - Present Level of Education Performance
PP - Paraprofessional
PT - Physical Therapy
RS - Related Services
RSP - Resource Specialist Program
SAS - Supplementary Aids and Services
SC - Service Coordinator
SE - Special Education
SEAC - Special Education Advisory Committee
SECTION 504 - Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act
SED - Serious Emotional Disturbance
SI - Sensory Integration
SIG - State Improvement Grant
SIP - State Implementation Plan
SLD - Specific Learning Disability
S/L I - Speech/Language Impairment
S/P D or S/P H - Severe/Profound Disability or Handicap
SPOA - Specific Power of Attorney
SSDI - Social Security Disability Income
SSI - Supplemental Security Income
SST - Student Study Team
TBI - Traumatic Brain Injury
TDD - Telecommunication Devices for the Deaf
TS - Tourette Syndrome
T-TA - Training and Technical Assistance
TTY - Teletypewriter (Phone system for the Deaf)
VI - Visual Impairment
Voc Ed - Vocational Education
VR - Vocational Rehabilitation