Parent's Guide to the Individualized Education Plan (IEP/CSE):

What is a CSE?

The Committee on Special Education (CSE) is the committee which meets to determine the classification, needs and services for your child.   The committee will have at least: The findings and determinations lead to the development of your child's Individual Education Plan (IEP).   Anything not on this plan will not be required to be provided for your child.   Because of the importance this plan will have on your child, don't let the people at the meeting convince you to accept less services than you think your child needs.   Make your wishes known.   You have a right to bring someone with you to the meeting.   If you thing that you will have trouble speaking up at the meeting, bring a family member or friend who will speak up for you.

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What is my role?

Consider yourself the most important person at The Committee on Special Education meeting.   You are the one who will have ONLY your child's best interests in mind.  

Quite often the school representative will try to dominate the meeting and try to bully you into accepting what he/she thinks is right for your child.   They may try to intimidate you with their education and experience and try to ignore or dismiss your opinions.   It is common for them to come to the meeting with your child's Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) already completed and present it to you as the only possible alternative.

These tactics can be difficult for you to overcome.   By preparing for the meeting well ahead of time, however, you can make your voice be heard.   To prepare for the meeting, follow these steps: With preparation, you will feel in control of the meeting.

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What is an IEP?

An Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) is a written statement of the classification, needs, services, goals and accountability for your child for the entire school year.   It is essentially a legally required contract between the school district and you, regarding your child.   It contains exactly what the school district is required to do and how their performance should be measured.   Your child will not receive any accommodation or service that is not specifically listed in his/her's IEP!

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Can I bring someone with me?

You can always bring someone to the meeting with you.   This could be an expert who will explain some aspect of your child that the Committee needs to understand, an advocate who is more familiar with the process and will walk you through it or an Attorney if you think the school district has failed to provide your child with a free appropriate education (FAPE). If you plan on bringing an advocate (especially a Lawyer), alert the school district in advance as often they will want to bring their own Lawyer to the meeting.

What if I don't agree with the IEP?

It is extremely important that you make sure that your child's Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) properly takes care of your child's needs.   If you disagree with the plan, you can try to get it modified in writing with the school district's agreement or you can demand a new Committee on Special Education (CSE).   You may need to seek an independent evaluation or get your own expert to convince the Committee on Special Education to modify your child's Individualized Educational Plan.

If you can not come to an agreement with the school, then you can pursue a due process hearing.

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What is least restrictive environment?

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) means that your child should be placed in special classes, separate schools or other designated removall from the general educational environment only when his/her disability is such that even with the use of aids and services, education cannot be satisfactorily achieved.   Any time services are not provided to your child in the general education setting, an explanation of the extent, if any, to which your child will not participate in general education programs must be provided in his/her Individualized Educational Plan (IEP).

The concept of Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) supports the idea that special education is a service, not a place.   Districts should have specific practices and procedures in place regarding Least Restrictive Environment (LRE), describing how responsibilities are carried out within the district.

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