The MLO Minute: Our special education attorneys provide over 100 seminars every year for families, students, consumers, professional organizations, and advocacy groups. We genuinely enjoy providing these programs, and do so at no charge – please never hesitate to invite us to present to any organization interested in education rights. A great many of these programs focus, quite understandably, upon the development of an appropriate IEP, because that document constitutes the critical roadmap for the provision of a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to students with disabilities.
At these seminars, we often quote the great basketball coach John Wooden who always told his teams that “Failing to prepare, is preparing to fail.” The same is accurate in developing appropriate programs for children with special needs, as an IEP can only be properly developed if sufficient, recent, relevant information is available to accurately identify the student’s complete educational needs, as well as an identification of the student’s strengths. Essential to this process is a comprehensive Evaluation Report with appropriate testing, observations, and clinical judgments to address all needs of the student and to establish appropriate, specially designed instruction and related services to allow the student to make meaningful educational progress towards reasonable levels of independence and self-sufficiency consistent with the child’s potential.
Along these lines, it is critical to remember that “education” involves far more than mere academics, but for virtually all students with disabilities the concept of “education” under federal and state law also involves meaningful progress emotionally, socially, physically, and behaviorally. An appropriate IEP must develop measurable and specific annual goals in every area of the child’s disabilities, and provide a clear designation of all research-based specially designed instruction and related services as necessary to allow the child to make meaningful progress in every area of need.
The following is a link to our Top 10 Tips to Develop an Appropriate IEP, and we hope that this document can serve as a useful outline for parents and all professionals involved in the development of IEPs at this critical time of year.