Answer the following question: At what age is it appropriate, ethical, and legal for a student to be part of the IEP development process? What would your response be if a parent requested that his or her child be excluded from the IEP development process?
Answer student discussion:
I teach students with moderate to severe disabilities. Students are 10 – 12 years old and are functioning between 4 months – 2 years old. Most would not be comfortable sitting through a long meeting and most parents actually prefer that they do not attend due to behaviors or risk of being disruptive. Several students have attended annual IEPs before and they were on an electronic device to pass time. I”m not sure that my students would fully comprehend or be aware of what is being discussed at IEP meetings. My students are well acquainted with the IEP team, which consists of parent(s), teacher, service providers, school psychologist, and our SPED director. Even if there is someone new on the IEP team, most of my students would probably not notice amongst all the others in the room.
My students really do not express much verbally to the development of their IEP. Many changes and adjustments are made after we implement the IEP and observe the reaction and progress of the student. There are clearly things that students like and don’t like and we take those into considerations, especially for goals. Even for my student who is in an academic inclusion setting for part of the day, the desire to participate a grade level class was recommended by parent and not by student.
According to Rothstein and Johnson (2014), the IEP team consists of Gen. Ed. teacher, Special Ed. teacher, parent(s) or other person acting as a parent, other individuals the parent or agency deems to have appropriate knowledge (usually service providers), and the student, in appropriate circumstances (p. 148). For the majority of Special Education, I would think it’s appropriate and ethical for students of any age to participate (even in part) in the IEP development process. However, for the students I teach, I don’t see any benefits or drawbacks to inviting them to be a part of the process. I think it’s up to parent’s discretion and most would rather not “put their child through that.”
Rothstein, L. F., & Johnson, S. F. (2014). Special Education Law (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
2. (Monica) Last year I was a part of a team that audited folders and worked on middle and high school IEP folders and the students that were 14 or older, could attend and to be a part of the IEP meeting. The folders showed that it varied with the student on if they attended the meeting, by if it was appropriate for them to attend and if they could actively participate and contribute to the meeting.
The students I teach in my self-contained class would not be able to be an active participant in the IEP meetings due to their cognitive disability and many being non-verbal. I would agree with one of my parents if they requested their child not attend the IEP meeting because they would need care during the meeting and not be able to contribute to the meeting. I really think it is a case-to case decision on whether the student be allowed to attend or be excluded from the IEP process and meeting. If the student is cognitively able to attend and can make contributions, then they should be allowed to attend and be part of the decisions for their education.
3. (Kris)s a middle school special education teacher, we are the first ones to dive into the transition process of the IEP development. It is legally mandated for a student that is entering 8th grade, or 14 years old during the length of the IEP to be included into the IEP development process and complete the transition process. We usually begin with a transition questionnaire, and sit down with the student 1:1 asking questions about their future college, living, and career goals. We are required to complete at least two different types of surveys, questionnaires, or interviews. After completing these questionnaires, the teacher will then develop their goals and activities to reach those goals. These goals are then discussed with the parent during the IEP meeting. For the students with more severe disabilities, our separate school has developed modified questions that are incorporated into their IEP. Many of our students begin attending the IEP meetings during the 7th grade year, but still left as optional. In 8thgrade, it is highly encouraged for the students to participate as they plan their schedules for high school during their IEP meeting.
During the IEP meetings, it is usually explained to the parents that students begin to attend the IEP meetings and be an active participant in the process. This begins in 7th grade, and it is usually left up to the parent if they agree to have the student join. In 8th grade it is asked to the parent for the student to participate, if the parent disagrees, it is then explained that they should join at the end of the meeting to discuss high school transition plan and scheduling. Parents will usually agree to this. Parents have expressed reasons to exclude as they do not want them to hear evaluation results, or they may not be interested in sitting during the meeting, or they will not understand. Ultimately, it is the right of the parent to have the child in the meeting. For audit reasons, it needs to be documented within the IEP documents if the student is of transition age and if they did not attend.
Read “Evidence-Based Practice for Special Educator Teaching Students with Autism,” by Marder and Fraser, located on the Johns Hopkins School of Education website.
eview the Code of Ethics.
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