STEPS TO GET TO A FINISHED INDIVIDUAL EDUCATION PLAN

Special education classrooms (shown here at th...

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I did this exercise last year at my other blog, but I wanted to update the steps in the process that results in a student’s Special Education – Individual Education Plan (IEP), to include changes to the rules and update it to include steps that I left out last time.

Most teachers, parents, administrators and other Pupil Evaluation Team (PET) members are only involved with the actual meeting (which usually lasts between 30 to 60 minutes) and don’t realize how involved this process actually is.

There is a lot that happens before and after the meeting that the Special Education Case Manager is responsible for that other attendees don’t see.  In this blog post I just want to focus on an annual review, which has several less steps than a 3 year re-evaluation.  Below is a list of “things” that I do as a Special Education Case Manager in preparation for a PET to completion of the IEP.

  1. Review the student’s Special Education record at the start of the year and document in either a database or paper tracking system list the date of the re-evaluation and annual PET due date.
  2. The month before iTs schedule date for PET with either the school or special education secretary.
  3. Call parents/legal guardian to confirm PET date – reschedule if necessary.
  4. Prep Advance Written Notice of I.E.P./I.F.S.P. Team Meeting (in RTF or MS Word) at least 7 days prior to PET preferably 14 days.
  5. Mail Advance Written Notice to parent/legal guardian, email if parents want this way also.
  6. Prepare an electronic survey form to gather info from those involved in the PET process.
  7. Email Advance Written Notice to classroom teachers invited to PET and CC Special Education Secretary.
  8. Put copy of Advance Written Notice in Special Education file
  9. Day before PET call parent/legal guardian to remind about PET
  10. Day before PET send email to teachers and administrators reminding of PET and if teachers are unable to attend ask them to provide progress and strengths of student for inclusion into PET records, if they haven’t added info to the electronic survey.
  11. Day before PET check-out Special Education record and Cumulative files from Guidance
  12. Day before review teacher input, Special Education record and Cumulative files
  13. Print out info from teachers not attending PET (for parents)
  14. Have Vice-Principal provide a print-out of the student’s behavior records for this school year.
  15. Day of PET, ensure that you have all the necessary forms (sign-in sheet of paper, started written notice,  have the Procedural Safeguards Notice available for parents/legal guardian, a copy of the IEP to be able to mark it up, any other forms or printouts needed for the meeting).
  16. Setup room for meeting – usually my classroom, but if using a different conference room ensure that room is still reserved for your use.
  17. Ensure Administrator and classroom teachers are available for PET.
  18. Actual meeting – If parents/legal guardians are not there, must attempt to call them, give them the Procedural Safeguards Notice available for parents/legal guardian, take notes to prepare Written Notice (in RTF or MS Word),  ensure that meeting addresses everything needed, document meeting determinations, clean up room after meeting ends.
  19. If parents didn’t attend – attempt to call them and discuss the PET results and find out their concurrence or concerns.
  20. Within 24 hours return Special Education and Cumulative files to Guidance
  21. Within 3 days prepare Written Notice of Meeting (replaced PET minutes).  It usually takes me 1 to 2 hours to prepare this document.  Due to the focus it requires, I usually end up doing it at night – at home.
  22. Change dates in database or paper based tracking system to when the next meeting will be.
  23. Mail (and email when requested) Written Notice to parent/guardian.
  24. Email copy to secretary.
  25. File copy of Written Notice in Special Education record.
  26. Prepare Individualized Education Program (IEP) (in RTF or MS Word) within 14 days.
  27. Send IEP to Special Education secretary for review.  For me preparing an IEP takes between 4 and 5 hours of work – I know I am slow, but they are legal documents and I really try to do a good job, but still there are times that you just look at something too much and the proofreading is not as good as it could be.  This is usually my Sunday afternoon activity – I just can’t seem to do it at school – too many interruptions/distractions.
  28. Follow-up with secretary at 2 weeks – to check to ensure IEP was mailed to parent(s)/legal guardian.
  29. Receive hard and electronic copies of IEP back from secretary.
  30. File one copy of IEP in Special Education record, electronic copies in student’s folder.
  31. File copy of IEP in working notebook
  32. Send electronic copies of IEP to classroom teachers
  33. Follow-up any questions/comments about IEP
  34. Coordinate the services agreed upon at the PET and put into the Individual Education Plan.
These are the steps for a routine annual, non-contentious Pupil Evaluation Team (PET) meeting.  If it is a contentious meeting there are an innumerable number of additional steps and hours of work that have to be done.

Each one of these steps is necessary to the process and when I forget one, I can look bad, be told about it and be held accountable for it. So for each PET/IEP I have at least 34 chances to make a mistake, multiply this times the 16-20 (plus) students that could be on my caseload; a homeroom; teaching 3 block periods of Resource Room specialized instruction in reading and writing (i.e. regular teaching duties: planning, teaching, assessing, reporting, communicating with parents, etc. that all teachers do);  a structured study hall; coordination of the IEP services/goal completion; committees; duty schedules, and standardized testing requirements.  Yeah I know “oh woe is me”, and “cry me a river”.  But it doesn’t change that this is what I and many other Special Educators are responsible for.

I think that these steps are fairly representative of the steps that all special educators have to do in their PET process to a finished Individual Education Plan.  There may be some local requirements that are different or some steps that may not be required, but overall I think that this is pretty close to the process that most of us follow, but with different names.

Gee I can’t imagine why Special Educators tend to get stressed out sometimes at school, especially during a week when we have 2-3 PETs in a week (which happens when you least expect it – emergency PETs, Manifest Determinations, Parental Requests and other unforeseen circumstances).  I believe that most Special Educators do the best that they can with all the time they might have available.

How many steps are in your process from scheduling to providing classroom teachers copy of the IEP (which isn’t really the final step – coordinating the IEP services are – but that is another post)?

2 thoughts on “STEPS TO GET TO A FINISHED INDIVIDUAL EDUCATION PLAN

  1. Harold, Thanks for this post. I have recently moved back to the Special Education arena, in a Resource Room, after an absence of 15 years. Many regulations have changed, and the whole digital process has changed. I wish I had this list in August when I started, but it looks like I have assimilated the process into my weekly duties quite well. I will keep this and refer to the details as I work through my week.Thanks again,CherylI am getting ready to reflect on my first month, I'm sure much of this will be included.

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  2. Cheryl – Thanks for commenting, if you find anything that I missed please let me know and I will add it to the list. I look forward to your reflection. I don't think I will do an October reflection, it is best to stay positive :-).Harold

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