How Do I Get an IEP For My Child in Arizona?
How do you get an IEP for your student in Arizona?
An IEP typically starts from the perspective of the parent or guardian. Suppose they believe their child would be eligible for certain services at the school, specifically special education. In that case, they will write a letter to the school stating they would like their child to be evaluated for IEP or special education services.
Once that starts, the parent or guardian initiates it, the school then takes that, and they have 15 days to decide if an evaluation needs to happen or if they have enough data on the student to assess if they would qualify.
IEP Evaluation of your Child in Arizona
An evaluation is just gathering data for assessment. Let’s say you already have information on the student from their regular healthcare provider, maybe a behavioral health therapist, observations of teachers, parents, grades, things like that, that the data’s already there. In that case, they may not need an additional evaluation. Within 15 days, the school will decide with their team if the student needs further evaluation or if they can already assess.
IEP Eligibility Evaluation
So, at that time, they may decide whether the student is eligible or not, or that they may need further evaluation. But you’ll know once they get all the information and make an eligibility determination. They’ll say, yes, the student is eligible for an IEP. When that happens, again, as we discussed, the student may be reevaluated or have all the data they need.
IEP Meeting Schedule
But once they think they have enough information to assess them properly for an IEP, they will schedule an IEP meeting.
Other topics of interest include:
Special Education Services and Goal-Setting for Eligible Students
At that meeting, they will schedule it. The parents, guardians, evaluators, and potentially the team or special educators from the school can be there; they will all come together. And this is when they set all of the expectations, and the puzzle pieces come together for the IEP.
So, the school will set goals, determine special education services or other types of services for that student, and monitor progress. So they’ll specify how and how often they need to evaluate the student to see if they’re meeting their goals.
Things like, where are you going? How are you getting there? And how can you tell how you’re doing? They will set up all that information at the IEP meeting, and once that’s agreed upon, it will go into force. Then the student will start receiving those services, and the school will be bound by that individualized education for that student.
IEP Student Annual Reassessment
The IEP team will hold a meeting yearly. They’ll go through everything and reassess. Then, every three years, the student will be reevaluated to ensure they were properly eligible for an IEP. That’s the basics of how you get to request an IEP to get one in your hand.
But the main point to remember is that if you’re a parent or a guardian and you think your student may be eligible for an IEP, put it in writing, and send it to the school. They have 15 days to make that evaluation or decide if they need an additional assessment for your student. And you can hold the school to that.
Is an Arizona IEP Free?
How much does an IEP cost in the state of Arizona? First, we’ll start with the cost of the parent. This one is easy. It costs the parents $0. If your student is in public school or charter school here in Arizona, the cost of the IEP is at the expense of the school.
Meeting the Needs of the Child
However, if you are trying to get your child a diagnosis or an evaluation before the IEP even starts, it’s likely that that is a cost you would incur. So, this is your healthcare provider, maybe a behavioral health specialist. If you take them to a physician who specializes in meeting your child’s needs, that would be a cost you would incur.
School’s Role in IEP Evaluation
However, the school is responsible for getting any evaluators or assessments for your child to decide if they are eligible for an IEP. The school is responsible for the cost of the educators, the team who’ll construct the IEP, to meet with the parents, and if any additional services are needed, so if you need to bring anybody into the school to provide (for example, a specialized type of therapy)— that’s the school’s cost. That’s the school’s responsibility.
It is rooted in federal statutes, federal case law, and Supreme court cases. Also, here in Arizona, federal statutes and regulations are as well. So, any cost of the IEP—which can vary depending on the student’s needs—is the school’s responsibility to meet those needs and get the evaluations needed to decide if they are eligible for an IEP.
All those costs can range greatly, but it’s the school’s responsibility to do that, not the parent’s. So, as a short answer, parents, it should cost you zero for the actual IEP itself. However, if you get any pre-evaluation or assessments done, that would be a cost you would incur.
Support Staff for an IEP Student
But then, once the process of the IEP starts, any of the services the IEP requires are all responsibility of the school, and that cost can vary greatly.
Suppose support staff needs to be brought in for that student if they need aid in the general education classroom. If they need therapy, the IEP team brings in a therapist, an occupational therapist, a speech therapy, or a behavioral health analyst. If they need to have any adaptations for their environment, this could make classrooms more accessible to them.
Speak to an Attorney
All these things cost money, but the school incurs it, and it varies greatly. You may get into some issues with the IEP process because the school, as I said, they incur that cost. And so they sometimes look out for their financial interest balancing that with the student’s needs. But if your student needs certain things the school does not provide for you, you’d want to reach out to a possible attorney to be advised on your rights and how to start the process for an IEP.
What Are the Components of An IEP In Arizona?
The components of an IEP vary from state to state. However, in general, an IEP must include the following:
- A statement of the child’s present level of educational performance
- A description of the child’s special education and related services
- Annual goals for the child’s educational progress
- A description of how they will measure the child’s progress
- The date by which the IEP will be reviewed and revised, if necessary
It’s essential to understand that an IEP is a living document that people can revise. As your child’s needs change, you can modify the IEP to address those changes.
Difference Between a 504 Plan and IEP in Arizona? | IEPs and 504 Plans
What are the differences between an IEP and a 504 plan in Arizona? These terms get used a lot by educators and school systems. Sometimes, parents don’t know that they’re separate documents and mean different things, and they grant different accommodations or specialized education.
So, I will break down the main differences between a 504 plan and an IEP. The significant differences are who qualifies for them.
Lastly, what accommodations or specialized education do you receive with both documents?
What is a 504 Plan in Arizona?
So, starting with the 504 plan. The 504 plan is codified in section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, which grants civil rights to people who may have a disability. Some disabilities impair them in the classroom so they may need accommodations. Now, a 504 plan does not define what is considered a disability to grant a 504 plan—an IEP does.
Is your Child Eligible for a 504 Plan?
So, a 504 plan is just for anybody with a disability who needs support. Also, a 504 plan covers anyone, K-12, in the college setting or university, while the IEP stops at grade 12. Those are the main differences. It’s easier to qualify for a 504 plan than it is for an IEP when it comes to a specific sort of disability.
Scope of a 504 Plan
Also, the 504 plan is only going to address accommodations. It does not address specialized education or instruction. A 504 plan might look like students can take medication at school or have particular technology granted to them. Maybe changes to their environment, more time on a test, or being able to be in a quiet room alone if they’re taking an exam. Things like that are going to be more of a 504 plan.
It’s just an accommodation; it’s written on a document. That’s how it is. It’s easier to get, and the process is quicker. However, you’re just getting those accommodations.
What is an IEP in Arizona?
Now, with an IEP, this is when you’re going to get that specialized education. So, the school will pull out regarding your child for special education. Although in an IEP, you might also get those same accommodations.
Let’s talk about an IEP. An IEP is codified under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. It grants people with a specified disability, and there’s a list of 13 categories your student must qualify under. And they will have an actual plan, a legally binding document.
How IEP Works
An IEP will give goals for your student to achieve and how they will get there. It is when we discuss accommodations, testing, progress monitoring, etc. You will meet annually to check those goals to ensure that you’re reaching or on the right track.
Categories of Disabilities
Then, every three years, the student will need to be reevaluated to see if they’re still eligible for the IEP. In the IEP, as I said, you do have to have one of the 13 categories of disabilities. And those are anywhere from:
- Emotional disorders
- Specific learning disabilities
- Speech or Language
- Visual Impairment,
- And traumatic brain injury.
Those are the basic list and the categories; your student must qualify underneath one. If they don’t, they will not receive an IEP. But that doesn’t mean they can’t get a 504 plan because a 504 disability is defined broadly to qualify for it.
So, those are the main differences.
Differences Between 504 Plan and IEP
In 504, more people are likely to be eligible for it, and it only covers accommodations. In an IEP, you must hit one of those 13 categories of disabilities to qualify for it, but you get accommodations and specialized education instruction.
Do You Need an Arizona IEP Attorney?
Understanding the Arizona IEP process can be complicated. If you’re concerned about your child’s education, you may want to consider hiring an IEP attorney. An IEP attorney can help you navigate the IEP process and ensure that your child’s rights are protected.
At Chelle Law, we understand parents’ challenges when advocating for their child’s education. We can help you understand your rights and options under the law. We will work with you to create an individualized education plan that meets your child’s unique needs.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation.
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