What is special education?
"Special education" is "specifically designed instruction, at no cost to parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability, including instruction conducted in the classroom, in the home, in hospitals and institutions, and in other settings; and instruction in physical education." 20 U.S.C. Section 1041(29).
May my child attend the IEP (individualized education plan) meeting?
The student may attend and participate in the IEP meeting. The student may attend selected parts of the IEP meeting rather than being present for the entire meeting.
What timelines affect the creation and implementation of my child's IEP?
Eligibility for special education and related services begins with a written request for evaluation. Fourteen (14) calendar days later, the district and parent(s) meet in order to decide whether an evaluation is necessary. If an evaluation is necessary, district and parents determine which domains will be evaluated. Parents are asked to consent to the evaluation process. Once the
parent provides written informed consent, the evaluation process begins. The district has up to sixty (60) school days to complete the evaluation and convene an eligibility meeting. The evaluation team and parent(s) meet in order to determine whether or not the student is eligible for special education. If the student is deemed eligible for special education and related services, the parent(s) are asked to consent to placement. Placement may begin ten (10) days after the parent provides such consent (or sooner, if the parent gives permission.)
(Adapted from, "Educational Rights and Responsibilities: Understanding Special Education in Illinois", Illinois State Board of EducationSpecial Education and Support Services, June 2009)
What is the difference between a 504 Plan and an IEP?
A "504 Plan" may be created for a student, pursuant to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This law is not a special education law. Rather, it is an "anti-discrimination" law. It requires any person or agency receiving federal funds to create and implement policies to prohibit discrimination against
individuals with disabilities. It applies to school districts as well areas outside of education (i.e. labor, employment, grants, contracts, etc.). The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a special education law that provides special education and related services to all eligible students through an IEP. Unlike IDEA, which lists specific categories of disability, Section 504 defines "disability" as an individual who has "a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities." A "504 Plan" describes how the district will support the student's disability and provide access to school programs.