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INDIVIDUALIZED EDUCATION PROGRAM TEAMS

Understanding IEP Team Members

By law, parents, teachers, and other professionals are required to be involved in developing, reviewing and revising a student’s IEP. The IEP team members discuss and collaborate to write a plan to address the unique needs of the student. Each IEP team member should be knowledgeable or have special expertise about the student and the special education services, activities and supports that could benefit the student. Find out about the members of the IEP team, including the roles and responsibilities of each team member.

Required IEP Team Members

The public agency (district/AEA) must ensure that the IEP team for each child with a disability includes the following:

  • Parent(s) of the student
  • Regular education teacher
  • Representative of the public agency
  • Special education teacher
  • Individual who can interpret evaluation results
  • Whenever appropriate, the child with a disability*
  • Other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise

NOTES:
* A person may serve in more than one role. For example, the special education teacher may also be the district representative or the person who can interpret evaluation results.
* An evaluation (initial or reevaluation) IEP team must include an AEA support staff professional because the determination of initial and continuing eligibility is an AEA responsibility.
* In the case of an eligible individual who receives, or is anticipated to receive, AEA support services only, an AEA support service provider may serve as the agency representative.
* If the IEP will be implemented in a setting outside of the student’s resident district, both the attending and resident district should be represented at the IEP meeting.

IEP Team Roles & Responsibilities

Parent

Overview of the roles and responsibilities of parents in the IEP process, including who can/can not serve as an IDEA parent.

Role of a Parent:
The parents of a child with a disability are equal participants with school and AEA personnel in developing, reviewing, and revising the IEP.

  • Parents provide critical information about their child’s abilities, interests, preferences, and history
  • Participate in the discussion about their child’s need for special education services, activities, and supports
  • Join with the other IEP team members in deciding:
    • How their child will be involved and progress in the general education environment
    • How their child will participate in state and district-wide assessment
    • What services, activities and supports the district and AEA will provide to their child
    • What setting those services, activities, and supports will be provided

Parent responsibilities include:

  • Share information regarding their child’s strengths, interests, and preferences
  • Identify their concerns and hopes regarding their child’s education
  • Share information regarding their child’s present level of academic achievement and functional performance (PLAAFP)
  • Assist in the development of IEP goals
  • Assist in developing positive behavioral instruction and strategies
  • Assist in identifying the full range of supplementary aids and services the student may need to be successful in the regular education classroom and elsewhere
  • Identify any supports that they might need to assist in implementing the IEP
  • Ask questions (who, what, where, why) to acquire information about the IEP meeting and programming for their child

 

Who can fill the role of Parent?
In general, a “parent” could be:

  • A biological or adoptive parent of a child,
  • A guardian (if authorized to act as the child’s parent in all matters or if the guardian is specifically authorized to make educational decisions for the child),
  • An individual such as a grandparent, stepparent, or another relative with whom the child lives and is acting in the place of a biological or adoptive parent,
  • An individual who is legally responsible for the child’s welfare,
  • An extended educational decision-maker, and/or
  • A surrogate parent.

Who can’t fill the role of a parent?

In general, a “parent” may not be:

  • A foster parent.
    • A foster parent may not, by virtue of his or her foster parent status, be deemed a person acting as the parent of an eligible individual for special education purposes. However, foster parents are not precluded from acting as a parent and other circumstances may allow a foster parent to serve as a parent:
      • A foster parent may act as a parent if assigned as a surrogate parent.
      • A foster parent may act as a parent if the foster parent is an individual such as a grandparent, stepparent, or another relative with whom the child lives and is acting in the place of a biological or adoptive parent.
  • A public or private agency involved in the education or care of a child, or
  • An employee or contractor with any public or private agency involved in the education or care of the child in that employee’s or contractor’s official capacity.

Specific examples of agencies and individuals who may not serve in the role of “parent” include:

  • The Department of Human Services or agencies contracted by the Department of Human Services
  • Group home directors involved in the care of a child
  • Caseworkers involved in the education or care of a child

May an Individual Who is Legally Responsible for the Child’s Welfare act as a parent?
Yes, an individual who is legally responsible for the child’s welfare may act in the place of a biological or adoptive parent. The individual must reside with the child (residence creates the legal responsibility for the child’s welfare).
Examples include an unmarried partner of the child’s parent or another adult with whom the child lives (such as a neighbor).

What is an Extended Educational Decision-maker and when would one be appointed?
An extended educational decision-maker is a person who has the authority to make educational decisions for an eligible individual who has attained the age of majority and would ordinarily make these decisions for himself or herself but has been determined to be unable to make these decisions. Additional information on Extended Education Decision-Makers is available in Resources.

What is a Surrogate Parent and when would one be appointed?
The appointment of a surrogate parent for the purposes of special education planning and programming is made when:

  • No parent can be identified
  • After reasonable efforts, no parent can be located
  • The child is a ward of the state
  • The child is an unaccompanied homeless youth
    Note: In the case of an unaccompanied homeless youth, the appropriate staff of emergency shelters, transitional shelters, independent living programs, or street outreach programs may be appointed as temporary surrogate parents until a surrogate parent can be appointed that meets all of the requirements. When it is necessary to appoint a surrogate parent, the IEP team must complete the Surrogate Parent Recommendation Form.
General Education Teacher

It is required to have at least one regular education teacher of the child if the child is, or maybe, participating in the regular education environment. The general education teacher participating in a student’s IEP meeting should be the teacher who is or may be, responsible for providing services, accommodations, adaptations, modifications, or supports for the student. If the student has more than one teacher, the district designates a teacher or teachers to participate in the IEP meeting. In a situation in which all of the student’s teachers do not participate in the IEP meeting, the district is encouraged to seek input from teachers who did not attend.

Role of a General Education Teacher:
The general education teacher must participate, to the extent appropriate, in the development, review, and revision of the IEP for the student.

  • The general education teacher for a preschool child is an individual who holds a valid practitioner’s license issued by the Board of Educational Examiners under Chapter 272 and holds an endorsement that includes prekindergarten for preschool child or kindergarten for kindergarten child (endorsement codes: 100, 102, 103, 106).
  • The general education teacher may be employed by a private provider or other public agency such as a community preschool childcare center or Head Start program as long as they hold the appropriate teaching endorsement. The teacher is not required to be an employee of the resident or attending district.

Note: The district/AEA must ensure that every teacher (general and special education teacher) who does not attend the meeting is informed of the results of the meeting and their required responsibilities as described in the IEP.

General education teachers responsibilities include:

  • Share information regarding the general curriculum and the general education classroom environment
  • Share information about the student’s progress and current performance
  • Assist in developing positive behavioral and instructional strategies
  • Identify supplementary aids, services, and program modifications that are needed to support the student’s advancement toward attaining annual IEP goals and the student’s involvement and progress in the general curriculum and general education environment
  • Support the student’s participation in extracurricular activities
  • Identify any supports that the general education teacher might need in order to assist in the implementation of the IEP
  • Assist with all aspects of the IEP process when appropriate

What if an Eligible Individual Doesn’t Have a General Education Teacher?

All students receiving special education services are general education students too.  Thus, it is a very rare circumstance that a student would not have a general education teacher. In almost all cases the IEP team will be exploring opportunities for involvement in the regular education environment and, in the case of a preschool child, education in a regular education environment will occur in the near future. 

Therefore, a general education teacher is not a required IEP team member only when the student is not participating in the regular education environment and there is no reasonable expectation that the student will be participating in the regular education environment.

Examples of a student who is not participating in the regular education environment include:

  • An eligible individual who is currently in a completely self-contained, special education placement
  • A preschool-age eligible individual who is not currently enrolled in any educational program such as Head Start or the Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program for Four-Year-Old Children

Examples of students who may be participating in the regular education environment include:

  • An eligible individual who is currently in a completely self-contained, special education placement, but there is a reasonable expectation that the IEP will include education in the regular education environment.
  • A preschool-age eligible individual who is not currently enrolled in any educational program such as Head Start or the Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program for Four-Year-Old Children, but there is a reasonable expectation that the IEP will include education in the regular education environment.
A Representative of the Public Agency

The agency representative is a district employee unless the eligible student only has AEA support services, in which case the agency representative would be an AEA employee. In the case of an eligible individual who receives, or is anticipated to receive, AEA support services, an AEA support service provider will typically serve as the AEA’s agency representative.

Note: “A public agency [district or AEA] may determine which specific staff member will serve as the agency representative in a particular IEP Team meeting, so long as the individual meets these requirements. It is important, however, that the agency representative have the authority to commit agency resources and be able to ensure that whatever services are described in the IEP will actually be provided … The public agency will be bound by the IEP that is developed at an IEP Team meeting.” [Analysis of Comments, 2006 IDEA Regulations; emphasis added].

Role of an Agency Representative:

The representative at the IEP meeting must be qualified to supervise or provide the provision of specific instruction to meet the needs of students with disabilities. The district or AEA representative may be responsible for facilitating the meeting and encourage participation by all IEP team members. When resources are committed, the district or AEA representative, or their appointed and authorized representative must be present. If the IEP is to be implemented in a setting outside of the resident district, both the attending and resident district should be represented at the IEP meeting. 

Agency(district or AEA) representative responsibilities include:

  • Supervising or providing the provision of special education with specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of an eligible individual;
  • Providing support in regard to the general curriculum and the availability of public agency resources; and
  • Committing district or AEA resources. 

District or AEA representative responsibilities include:

  • Assisting in developing positive behavioral and instructional strategies
  • Aiding in identifying the full range of supplementary aids and services the student may need to be successful in the regular education classroom and elsewhere
  • Acting as district designee to commit resources
  • Helping with all aspects of the IEP process when appropriate
Special Education Teacher/Service Provider

It is required to have at least one special education teacher of the child or, where appropriate, at least one special education provider of the child. The special education teacher or service provider participating in a student’s IEP meeting is the person who is, or will be, responsible for implementing the IEP.

Role of a Special Education Teacher/Service Provider:

The special education teacher or special education service provider ( such as speech-language pathologists, physical therapists or occupational therapists, etc.) may be the individual responsible for facilitating the meeting and encourage participation by all IEP team members.

Special Education Teacher/Service Provider responsibilities include:

  • Share information regarding the students’ present levels of academic achievement and functional performance (PLAAFP)
  • Share information regarding progress toward an identified goal
  • Provide suggestions for maximizing the extent to which the student is educated with nondisabled students
  • Share information regarding accommodations and modifications to the general curriculum and the general education classroom environment
  • Assist in developing positive behavioral strategies
  • Assist in developing instructional strategies
  • Assist in identifying the full range of supplementary aids and services the student may need to be successful in the regular education classroom and elsewhere
  • Assist in the development of IEP goals and objectives
Individual who can Interpret Evaluation Results

An individual capable of interpreting the instructional implications of evaluation results must also be a member of the IEP team. This individual can be the special education teacher, the district representative, the general education, support or related services personnel, or other individuals invited by the public agency or parents already in attendance at the IEP meeting.

Per the Iowa rule, AEA staff are responsible for determining eligibility. An IEP team must include an AEA professional when the IEP team is making a determination of initial and/or continuing eligibility (initial and reevaluation IEP meetings).

Student/Eligible Individual

Ages 3-13 years old:

A student under the age of 13 may attend their IEP meeting if the parent(s), district, and/or AEA agree it is appropriate.

Ages 13-21 years old: 

Students aged 13-21 years old must be invited to their IEP meeting when its purpose is the consideration of needed transition services. If the student does not attend, the district/AEA should take steps to ensure the student’s preferences and interests are considered in the development of the IEP.

 

Age of Majority

There are three circumstances when a student is considered to have reached the Age of Majority in Iowa when procedural rights are transferred to the student. These rights are transferred to a student with disabilities who:

  • has reached his/her 18th birthday;
  • has married; or
  • is incarcerated in an adult or juvenile correctional institution (state or local).

If procedural rights are transferred to the student, the district/AEA must ensure that the student has the same rights to participate in IEP meetings as are set forth for parents. However, at the discretion of the student or district/AEA, the student’s parents may continue to attend IEP meetings as an individual who has “knowledge or special expertise regarding the child.”

Considerations for determining whether a student should their IEP meeting:

  • If possible, the district, AEA, and parent(s) should discuss and consider the appropriateness of the student’s participation in the meeting, considering and determining whether the student’s attendance will be helpful in developing the IEP and/or directly beneficial to the student. 
  • Prior to the IEP meeting, it may be appropriate to provide the student with information about what an IEP is and how they may participate.

 

Student responsibilities include:

    • Discussing their strengths, interests, and preferences
    • Sharing information regarding their general education and special education experiences
    • Providing input into all aspects of the IEP
    • Assisting with all aspects of the process when appropriate
Persons Invited at the Discretion of Parents or Public Agency

In the process of developing an IEP for an eligible student, it may be appropriate for IEP teams to invite, per the discretion of the parent or the agency, other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the child, including related services personnel as appropriate to participate in the IEP meeting. These individuals may include: 

  • Licensed health professional
  • School counselor
  • School social worker
  • Special education consultant
  • Educational interpreter
  • Employers
  • Private counselors

NOTES:

For students transitioning from early intervention (Part C) to special education (Part B), an invitation to the initial IEP team meeting must, at the request of the parent, be sent to the early intervention service coordinator or other representatives of the Early ACCESS system to assist with the smooth transition of services

If the parent invites legal counsel to attend the meeting, the public agency should also have legal counsel present.  If the parent does not inform the public agency they are bringing legal counsel, the LEA/AEA may reschedule the IEP meeting to ensure their legal counsel is present.   

For students 13 years of age and older, IEP teams may be coordinating with other agencies regarding transition services and they may want to consider involving a representative from those partnering agencies to be part of the IEP team. Individual student needs, strengths, interests, and preferences determine the need and appropriateness of representation of outside agencies. If the agency representative cannot attend, they may submit written input prior to the IEP meeting.

IEP Meeting Attendance and Agreement to Excuse Attendance

It is important that all team members come to the meeting prepared to share information and make decisions about the student’s IEP. Each member of the IEP team has a critical role to play in the IEP process and decision-making needed to develop an IEP that provides a FAPE. All required members are expected to attend the entire meeting unless excused in writing.

Depending on an IEP meeting’s purpose:

  • Additional individuals who are currently providing general or specially designed instruction or special education support services and whose input is needed for the development of a new or amended IEP,
  • Additional individuals who are not currently providing general or specially designed instruction or special education support services, but whose area of instruction or service will be discussed in the development of a new or amended IEP, and
  • Additional individuals whose input is needed for the development of a new or amended IEP (e.g., district transportation director, guidance counselor, AEA consultant or strategist, etc.).

Agreement to Excuse Attendance at an IEP Meeting

IEP team members who would fill required roles (general education teachers, special education teachers, a district or AEA representative, an individual who can interpret evaluation results) must be excused.  

There are two ways these IEP team members can be excused:

  1. An IEP team member’s attendance is not necessary. This means that the member’s area of expertise is not being discussed. For example, the speech-language pathologist may be excused from a meeting where the IEP is being amended in the area of math instruction.
  2. The IEP team member’s area of expertise will be discussed and his/her input will be provided in writing.

In both situations, the parent and the school or AEA must agree in writing that the team member does not need to attend the IEP meeting. This agreement is documented on the Agreement to Excuse Attendance at IEP Meeting form.

  • If the parent does not agree, an IEP meeting must be scheduled when the IEP team member in question is able to attend. 
  • If parents are going to be asked to sign the Agreement to Excuse Attendance at IEP Meeting form at the IEP meeting, they should be contacted by phone or e-mail prior to the meeting to determine their agreement. 
  • If a request is made to excuse an IEP team member at the meeting and the parent does not agree, the meeting is discontinued and rescheduled at a time when the individual in question is able to attend. It is important to secure parent consent in a timely manner so that annual review and reevaluation timelines are met.

Note: Non-required participants who are part of an individual’s IEP team (e.g., the district transportation director) but cannot attend the IEP meeting should provide their input to the IEP team, but no Agreement to Excuse Attendance at IEP Meeting form is required.

IEP Team Member Resources

A summary of IEP team members’ roles and responsibilities can be found on the IEP Member Roles and  Responsibilities.