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MYTHBUSTERS Samantha Ricci Antonia Miller Eliza Pope Anthony Jones Jessica Hass Jeffrey Martin Hunter Allen Mythbusters! Parental Roles in the IEP Process Samantha Ricci First Thing’s First: the IEP

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Samantha Ricci

Antonia Miller

Eliza Pope

Anthony Jones

Jessica Hass

Jeffrey Martin

Hunter Allen



Parental Roles in the IEP Process

Samantha Ricci

first thing s first the iep
First Thing’s First: the IEP
  • Individualized Education Program: a written educational plan for a child with a disability.
  • Each public school child who receives special education and related services must have an IEP, and each IEP must be a “truly individualized document” designed for one student.
    • Source: U.S. Dep’t of Education website.

The U.S. Department of Education believes the IEP process “to be one of the most critical elements to ensure effective teaching, learning, and better results for all children with disabilities.”

    • Source:
myth 1

Myth #1

Parents are not members of their child’s IEP team.

myth 16
Myth #1:
  • FALSE!
  • A parent is one of the most important team members!
  • Both the federal regulations and Virginia regulations list the parents as the first team members on an IEP team!
    • See 20 U.S.C. § 1414(d)(1)(B)(i) and 8VAC20-81-110(C)(1)(a).
why is parental involvement so important
Why is parental involvement so important?
  • When developing an IEP, the IEP team shall consider:
    • The strengths of the child;
    • The concerns of the parents for enhancing the education of their child;
    • The results of the initial evaluation or the most recent evaluation of the child; and
    • The academic, developmental, and functional needs of the child.
      • See 20 U.S.C. § 1414(d)(3)(A) and 8VAC20-81-110(F).
suggestions for more effective involvement
Suggestions for more effective involvement:
  • Bring a friend (but inform the school)!
    • You and the school are allowed to invite people “who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the child.”
    • This can be a friend, family member, advocate, tutor, professional consultant, religious leader, etc.
  • Obtain copies of the evaluations prior to the meeting.
  • Ask to see a draft of the IEP ahead of time.
  • Source: All About IEPs, Peter W. D. Wright, Pam Darr Wright, Sandra Webb O’Connor (Harbor House Law Press, Inc. 2010).
myth 2

Myth #2

A parent has to sign an IEP even if they do not agree with it.

myth 210
Myth # 2
  • FALSE!
  • The Virginia regulations recognize your right to participate in shaping your child’s education.
  • Your consent is required to implement the IEP.
    • See 8VAC20-81-110(B)(2)(d) and 8VAC20-81-170(E).
parental consent
Parental Consent
  • “Consent” must be fully informed, which means the school has to make sure you understand what you are giving consent for.
  • The school must obtain your consent before evaluation, reevaluation, or placement in special education.
    • See 8VAC20-81-170(E).


    • Granting your consent is voluntary; the school cannot force you to give consent!
    • You may revoke your consent (in writing) at any time!
      • See 8VAC20-81-170(E)(3).
what happens if i don t sign the iep
What happens if I don’t sign the IEP?
  • The previous IEP stays in place until the new IEP is signed and takes effect.
  • If this is your child’s first IEP, you can consent for the school to implement acceptable parts of the IEP while you continue to negotiate the issues on which you do not agree.
    • Source: All About IEPs, Peter W. D. Wright, Pam Darr Wright, Sandra Webb O’Connor (Harbor House Law Press, Inc. 2010).
myth 3

Myth #3

Once an IEP is signed and implemented, it is set in stone and cannot be changed.

myth 315
Myth #3
  • FALSE!
  • At the very least, an IEP must be reviewed and revised every year.
    • See 20 U.S.C. § 1414(d)(4) and 8VAC20-81-110(B)(5).
  • BUT a parent, teacher, or related services provider may decide that the IEP needs to be reviewed and revised early.
    • See 8VAC20-81-110(B)(7).
why revisit the iep early
Why revisit the IEP early?
  • Lack of progress
    • Revise to include a more intense or entirely different plan of attack.
  • GREAT progress
    • Revise the annual goals to reflect the progress the child is making.
monitoring progress is critical
Monitoring Progress is CRITICAL!
  • An IEP must describe the ways in which your child’s progress towards their annual goals will be measured.
    • See 8VAC20-81-110(G)(8).
  • An IEP must describe when you will receive progress reports.
    • See 8VAC20-81-110(G)(8).
myth 4

Myth #4

The school can change my child’s IEP at any time.

myth 419
Myth #4
  • FALSE!
  • Consent is required. While this is especially important if the school wants to revoke eligibility for special education or terminate special education services, Virginia law requires informed parental consent before any revisions to the IEP.
    • See 8VAC20-81-170(E)(1)(e).
myth 122

Myth # 1

The school can choose to take my special education child out of the regular classroom

All placement decisions should be made by the IEP team based on the individual needs of the child. (34 C.F.R. § 300.116).
  • To the maximum extent appropriate children with disabilities are educated with children who are not disabled. (20 U.S.C. § 1412(a)(5)).
myth 225

Myth # 2

Restraint and seclusion no longer occur in schools

A study recently completed by the US Department of Education found that 16 states offer no rules, regulations, or guidance to schools regarding restraint and seclusion. (
va restraint and seclusion regulations
VA Restraint and Seclusion Regulations
  • VA has no law on restraint and seclusion that governs the public schools.
  • VA provides schools with recommendations of best policies concerning restraint and seclusion.
federal legislation
Federal Legislation
  • Specific actions prohibited by the bill:
    • Any restraint that restricts breathing.
    • The use of mechanical restraints such as strapping a student into a chair.
    • School staff cannot use medication to control behaviors unless they are acting in accordance with a doctor’s prescription.
some important things to know about placement
Some Important Things to Know About Placement
  • Placement refers to the environment in which the child’s IEP can be most readily implemented.
  • The IDEA says that special education is “a service for children rather than a place where such children are sent.” 20 U.S.C. § 1400(c)(5)(C)
  • The School MUST provide an appropriate educational placement based on your child’s IEP.
myth 132

Myth # 1

When determining a child’s placement, it is typically the school who decides where the IEP will be carried out.

Fact: Parents have the right to be a part of any group that decides the educational placement of the child.
  • Fact: The team must first consider placement in the general education classroom at the school your child would attend if not disabled. 34 C.F.R. § 300.116.
  • Fact: Placement may NOT be based on the child’s disability category or severity of the disability (i.e., children with autism are placed in a designated autism classroom).
myth 234

Myth # 2

Placement decisions are made based on the school’s access to special education and related services and the availability of trained staff.

Fact: Placement decisions must be based on the unique needs of the child as documented in the IEP. When making decisions about your child’s placement, the IEP team must consider the “Least Restrictive Environment” and provide a “continuum of alternative placements”.
continuum of alternative placements
Continuum of Alternative Placements
  • Placements are on a continuum, listed in the definition of special education from least to most restrictive.
  • Depending on the needs of the child, his or her IEP may be carried out in a regular class, with supplementary aids and services, as needed, in a special class, where every student is receiving special education services, in a special school, at home, in a hospital or institution or in another setting. 20 U.S.C. § 1412 (a)(5)
myth 337

Myth # 3

Children with severe disabilities must be placed in special centers for disabled children or in private schools.

Fact: Your child must be educated with non-disabled children to the maximum extent appropriate to the child’s specific needs. If your child could make reasonable progress in her IEP goals in a regular classroom, the school must provide whatever additional services are necessary for your child to succeed.
  • The team may determine that the most appropriate placement for your child is outside of your child’s school district.
private school placement
Private School Placement
  • If the school district determines that a private school placement is the appropriate educational setting, the public school district is responsible for ensuring the private school implements your child’s IEP.
myth 440

Myth # 4

Once you have approved your child’s Notice of Recommended Educational Placement and IEP, you must wait until the next year to request a change in your child’s program or placement, or go to a due process hearing.

Fact: Although the school MUST make a placement determination at least once a year, you are permitted to request a change in your child’s program or placement at any time.
  • Once you have requested a change in your child’s placement, the school must notify you of whether it is willing to comply. If your request is denied, you have the right to pursue a Due Process Hearing.
  • No matter what you have agreed to regarding your child’s placement, you never lose your right to change your mind!
  • A plan of positive behavioral interventions in the IEP of a child whose behaviors interfere with his/her learning or that of others.
  • Even though the term “Behavioral Intervention Plan” is not spelled out in the IDEA, the notion comes from 20 U.S.C. § 1414(d)(3)(B)(i)
how the bip is implemented
How the BIP is Implemented
  • The BIP is one of the special factors that should be considered in the development of the IEP.
  • In general, the BIP can be viewed in the same light as the other goals set out in a students IEP.
  • However, do note that a BIP is an addition, not a substitute for an IEP.
so when is the bip created
So When is the BIP Created?
  • If an incident occurs which causes a desire to change the placement of the child then within ten school days the relevant members of the IEP team must meet to determine if the incident was a manifestation of the child’s disability.
    • If the conduct is related to disability, or if the conduct is result of failure to implement the IEP then there is a determination of manifestation.
  • Next, a behavioral assessment is conducted and a BIP is created.
    • If BIP already exist, then necessary modifications are made.
  • 20 U.S.C §1415 (k)(1)(E) & (F)
  • If the student’s behavior was not a manifestation of his disability, the student with disabilities is subject to the same disciplinary actions as other students.
  • Billy is a 7th grader with ADHD
  • His BIP covers sudden verbal outburst and knocking books off of other students desk.
    • These are manifestations of his disability.
  • Billy using a cheat sheet on a test would not seem to be a manifestation of his disability and he would be subject to the same disciplinary actions as other students.
myth 150

Myth # 1

It is ideal for a BIP to try and control the child’s behavior.



  • Interventions based upon control often fail to generalize to that particular behavior, and many times they serve only to suppress the behavior.
    • Often this results in a child manifesting unaddressed needs in alternative, inappropriate ways.
  • Interventions should emphasize the skills a student will need in order to behave in a more appropriate manner, or provide motivation for the student to conform to required standards.
myth 252

Myth # 2

The Child should always be returned to their prior placement if the behavioral problems were determined to be a manifestation of the child’s disability.


Not exactly

  • The child is ideally to be returned to the prior placement; however, the parents and educators can agree to change placement as part of the BIP or as a modification of the existing BIP.
  • Unless the behavioral problem involved weapons, drugs, or serious bodily injury.
    • 20 U.S.C §1415 (k)(1)(F) & (G)
myth 354

Myth # 3

When pinpointing the behavior causing learning or discipline problems it is best to list the problem using broader language.



  • It is best to define the behavior in concrete terms that are easy to communicate and simple to measure and record.
  • If descriptions are vague, it is difficult to determine appropriate interventions.


    • Problem Behavior: Trish is Aggressive
    • Concrete Definition: Trish hits other students during recess when she does not get her way.
myth 457

Myth # 4

BIP’s only address disciplinary problems.



  • Any action that is in violation of the school’s code of conduct, and could result in a change of placement for the child, is eligible for a manifestation determination.
  • If the action is considered to be a manifestation of the child’s disability then a behavioral assessment must be conducted and a behavioral intervention plan must be created.
myth 161

Myth # 1

Standardized tests do not measure the achievements of disabled children.

alternative assessment sol with accommodations
Alternative Assessment – SOL with Accommodations
  • timing/scheduling
  • setting
  • presentation
  • response
alternative assessment vaap
Alternative Assessment - VAAP
  • Virginia Alternative Assessment Program
  • Collection of Evidence (COE)
  • Tests children
    • in grades 3-8 and 11
    • with an IEP or 504 Plan
    • most significant cognitive disabilities
    • working toward education goals OTHER than Modified Standard Diploma, Standard Diploma, or Advanced Studies Diploma
alternative assessment vgla
Alternative Assessment - VGLA
  • Virginia Grade Level Alternative
  • Collection of Evidence (COE)
  • Tests children
    • in grades 3-8
    • with an IEP or 504 Plan
    • who do not qualify for VAAP
    • students who are not able to complete SOL even with accommodations
alternative assessment vsep
Alternative Assessment - VSEP
  • Virginia Substitute Evaluation Program
  • Course Work Compilation (CWC)
  • Tests children
    • in grades 9-12 for any course in which there is an SOL assessment
    • with an IEP or 504 Plan
    • who do not qualify for VAAP
    • students who are not able to complete SOL even with accommodations
myth 266

Myth # 2

Only students who take the SOLs are eligible to receive a standard diploma.

what diploma will my child get
What diploma will my child get?
  • VAAP – Student will not get a standard diploma (grades 3-8 and 11).
  • VGLA – Test has no bearing on diploma earned (grades 3-8).
  • VSEP – Student is eligible for Modified Standard, Standard, or Advanced Studies diploma (grades 9-12).
myth 368

Myth # 3

Schools are not held accountable for educating children who do not take the SOLs.

are schools held accountable
Are schools held accountable?
  • VAAP and VGLA evidence is submitted to the school division and scored locally. Scoring teams apply a scoring rubric to submitted evidence and enter ratings of student performance in an online scoring system.
  • CWC for VSEP is reviewed by individuals who are familiar with the course content area being assessed and the characteristics of the submitting students.


ESY is just about regression and recoupment.

Jeffrey Martin



Download the manual from the Virginia Department of Education.



Understand the basics.

ESY is essentially a summer IEP.


Think about your child’s IEP.

Areas that your child’s IEP currently addresses:





“Historically . . . regression and recoupment.

Recent case law … FAPE.”

ESY p. 3.


regression recoupment FAPE

3 4 5 6

Sept.   June GOAL

7 18

key to the case

Key to the Case

The benefits gained will be significantly jeopardized without ESY.

ESY pp. 4-5.

Are FAPE benefits significantly jeopardized?


Your first sentence:

“Jadyn has made significant gains this year in math, reading and processing; however, the benefits she gained will be significantly jeopardized without ESY because . . .”

available evidence

Available Evidence

Observation by parents

Observations after long weekends, vacations and past summer breaks

Can be objective


fape threat 1

FAPE Threat #1

Deep Regression &

Slow Recoupment that significantly jeopardizes . . .

“not required to demonstrate regression” ESY p.16



-MATH: counting coins- 2 weeks off –she totally forgot –I had to start all over –took just as long

-NEXT YEAR: Ask now for your child to be objectively tested in June and then in September


“The first few tests of the school year are VERY important. Document the time the student spends preparing for a test, the test grades (if failing), and comments from the teacher regarding the student’s preparedness at the beginning of the year. I usually ask a teacher to do this in a little note after the first two weeks of school.”

fape threat 2

FAPE Threat #2

Degrees of Progress

Your child is BEHIND meeting his IEP goals. Significant chance FAPE will not be met.

threat 3

Threat #3

Emerging skills/

breakthrough opportunities

your child improved but. . .

significant jeopardy he’ll lose what he got

fape threat 4

FAPE Threat #4

Interfering behavior

-behavior problems

at the start of the school year

-absences due to disability

(cannot get the 180 days)

fape threat 5

FAPE Threat #5

The nature and severity of the disability

-Window of opportunity between 5 and 8 years old. Lawyer

fape threat 6

FAPE Threat #6

Special circumstances or other factors

-Why you cannot provide the services during the summer.



Do the Ask!

“I then made my prepared and practiced statement:

Multiple unmet IEP yearly goals show that Alex is making little progress in reading…”



ESY is all about regression and recoupment



I am all alone.

Hunter Allen

  • School Districts and the VDOE
  • Groups and Organizations
  • Websites
    • BE CAREFUL – Not all websites were created equally.
      • Know your source.
  • Books and Other Resources
schools and virginia doe
Schools and Virginia DOE
  • School District Resources
    • Parent Resource Center
    • Special Education Director
    • SEAC
  • Virginia Department of Education
    • Parent Ombudsman
    • Parents’ Guide to Special Education
    • Other VDOE Publications
groups and organizations
Groups and Organizations
  • Parent Support Groups
    • Often specific to individual diagnoses…
      • Peninsula Autism (Autism Society of America)
      • Cerebral Palsy of Virginia
      • Down Syndrome Association of Hampton Roads
  • Advocacy Groups
    • ARC of Virginia
    • SEAC
groups and organizations95
Groups and Organizations
  • Legal Support
    • PELE
    • Special Rights Advocates
  • Services
    • Community Services Board
    • T/TAC (Training and Technical Assistance Centers)
  • General Special Education Information
  • IDEA/Legal Information
    • Virginia DOE
    • PEATC
  • IEP/Special Education Resources
    • Writing IEP Goals:
books and other resources
Books and Other Resources
  • Suggested Reading List
    • See your handout.
  • Other Resources
    • PEATC I-Phone App