Special Education FAQs

WHAT IS AN "INDIVIDUALIZED EDUCATION PROGRAM"?
An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is an annual written plan, required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), for each child receiving special education services.  It is a written record of the decisions reached at the IEP meeting.  It describes the specially designed services that will be provided to meet your child's individual learning needs.  The IEP includes:
Your child's present level of academic achievement and functional performance.
What your child will accomplish in one year (measurable annual goals).
Services that will be provided for your child.
How much time, if any, your child will not participate in the general education curriculum or will be away from children who have no disabilities.
Procedures to evaluate your child's progress and report that progress to you.
A statement of what transition services your child will need beginning at age 14, or younger if appropriate.
HOW OFTEN DOES THE IEP TEAM MEET?
After the team writes your child's first IEP, they must meet at least once a year to review the needs, services, and progress of your child.  Parent(s) may request an IEP meeting at any time by contacting their child's Case Manager at their school or the Student Services department at Central Office.


WHERE AND WHEN ARE IEP MEETINGS HELD?
IEP meetings are usually held at the child's school.  However, arrangements may be made to meet in another location if needed.  The time for the meetings should be convenient for both the parent(s) and the school.
After the annual IEP meeting has been held, the parent and the school may agree to change the IEP without holding a meeting.  This could happen over the phone or by e-mail.  The school will send the parents a written notice of the agreement and a copy of the new IEP, including the agreed upon changes.


WHO MIGHT ATTEND AN IEP MEETING?
Individuals who may participate in an IEP meeting include:
Parent(s)/Guardians
Your child (whenever appropriate)
A representative of the school district (Local Education Agency - LEA rep)* who is knowledgeable about general curriculum and is able to commit resources
A regular education teacher*
A special education teacher (who has recent training or experience in the area of the child's disability)*
A relative, friend, Parent Liaison, advocate (such as, from Wisconsin FACETS)
Individuals who can explain testing results (this person could be one of the individuals from the list above)
Others who have knowledge or specific expertise regarding the child (this person could be a therapist, outside counselor, one of the individuals from the list above, etc.)
NOTE:  The individuals with a star (*) must be present at the IEP meeting unless the parent and the school have agreed to excuse them.  This needs to be in writing prior to the meeting.

 

WHAT HAPPENS AT AN IEP TEAM MEETING?
Parents and other members of the IEP team share information about your child's educational needs.  Each year the team takes this information and writes measurable annual goals.  These are the IEP team's best estimates of what your child will be able to accomplish in one year.  The school will send you periodic reports throughout the year as to the progress your child is making toward reaching the annual goals set forth within the IEP.


WHERE DO I FIND CURRENT LAW REGARDING SPECIAL EDUCATION?
Federal and state laws change on occasion.  For the most current information, check the following websites:
www.dpi.wi.gov/sped/idea.html
 
http://idea.ed.gov
 
 


WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR A CHILD TO BE "REFERRED"?
Parents, relatives, teachers, administrators, or outside agencies may complete a "Referral" form due to concerns regarding a student's possible disability and the potential need for special education services.
The completed "Referral" form begins the IEP process.  If, based on the referral, it is determined testing is needed, parent's consent will be requested via a signature form.
The IEP process begins with the receipt of the "Referral" and concludes with placement OR notice that the student does not qualify for special education services.
Testing and the IEP meeting must be completed within 60 calendar days of receipt of parental consent for testing in order to meet state legal requirements.


WHO WILL EVALUATE MY CHILD?
The Director of Student Services assigns school professionals to the IEP team to evaluate your child.
The IEP Team may include a school psychologist, speech pathologist, special education teacher, social worker, physical therapist, occupational therapist, and must include a regular education teacher.  You as the parent are also on the team.
Parent permission for the evaluation must be obtained by the IEP Team before any testing takes place.
Parents have the right to revoke their consent in writing at any time.  This and other procedural safeguards are spelled out in the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction "Parent & Child Rights in Special Education" brochure given to parents along with the "Notice of Receipt of Referral and Start of Initial Evaluation" form.


WHAT HAPPENS AFTER MY CHILD IS EVALUATED?
Following the evaluation, if your child is found to have an education related disability and need for special education services, the IEP team will develop a plan to meet your child's needs.  Your consent is required prior to starting any special education services. 
If your child does not have an education related disability and qualify for special education services, the IEP team may make recommendations for alternative services that can be offered by the district or other agencies to help your child.


WHAT WILL HAPPEN FOLLOWING THE IEP MEETING?
If your child requires special education, the program that you participated in developing will be put in place.  If your child does not have a disability, the recommendations for other services will be acted upon at the school level.
If the IEP Team determines the need for special education services not available at your child's current school, the Team will arrange for the service either at that school or another school as soon as possible.


WILL MY CHILD BE REQUIRED TO COME TO THIS MEETING?
This is determined on an individual basis and is a judgment call of the parent and the teacher assigned during the evaluation process.  Generally, students in middle school or high school are encouraged to attend these meetings.


WHAT DOES IT MEAN THAT MY CHILD IS "ELIGIBLE FOR SPECIAL EDUCATION"?
The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) has issued a set of guidelines for schools to follow when assessing children who may have special education needs.  These guidelines or criteria show very specifically what kind of profile children need to have in order to qualify for special education services in any area.  Go to the DPI website to see the actual criteria.


WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT AREAS THAT STUDENT'S CAN QUAILFY IN?
The current 11 areas are:
 
Autism (A)
Cognitive Disability (CD)
Emotional Behavioral Disorders (EBD)
Hearing Impairment (HI)
Orthopedically Impaired (OI)
Other Health Impairment (OHI)
Significant Developmental Delay (SDD)
Specific Learning Disability (SLD)
Speech Language Impairment (SL)
Visually Impaired (VI)
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)


MY CHILD WENT THROUGH A SPECIAL EDUCATION ASSESSMENT BUT DID NOT GET SPECIAL EDUCATION HELP, YET HE STILL STRUGGLES. IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE?
Yes, There area a variety of services available in the regular education classes which may include (depending on the particular school) Title I services, a "504 plan", peer tutoring, a regular education plan, etc.


IF MY STUDENT QUALIFIES FOR SERVICES IN ONE OF THE ABOVE SPECIAL EDUCATION AREAS, WHAT TYPE OF SERVICES MIGHT I EXPECT?
This depends very much on your child's needs as shown in the evaluation.  After you have been given the evaluation results your child will be assigned a case manager (special education teacher) for the remainder of the school year.  This case manager will work with you to develop an Individual Educational Plan (IEP) which will outline the exact nature of the services your child will receive.


HOW DO I NETWORK WITH OTHER PARENTS WHO HAVE CHILDREN WITH A DISABILITY?
There are many options.  You can contact:
Parent Supporting Parents
Parent Educator
Special Education Teacher
Director of Special Education


WHAT IS IDEA?
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the primary federal law designed to improve early intervention and special education for infants, toddlers, children, and youths with disabilities.  IDEA includes three formula grant programs - school-aged children, preschool children, and infants and toddlers.  These programs assist states in serving disabled children in different age ranges and include discretionary grant programs that support early intervention and special education research, demonstrations, technical assistance, and personnel training.


ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS?
IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS OR WOULD LIKE FURTHER INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR SPECIAL EDUCATION OFFICE AT 715-425-1800 X1121.

  • School District of River Falls
  • 852 East Division Street, River Falls, WI 54022
  • Phone: (715) 425-1800 | Fax: 715-425-1804
  • Email