The IEP team includes the Guardian(s), School Psychologist, Administrator, possibly an ERMHs or Educationally Related Intensive Counselor (ERICS), most likely a General Education Teacher, and the student of the student is of age. The student may stay in the Special Education system until it is either recommended that services can conclude or when guardian who is the Educational Right Holder concludes services. There are many different conversations that we can focus on in the school system but today we will discuss the Social/Emotional system.
The Social/Emotional areas of the IEP focus on how the Student behaves in the school system, handles change, is affected by the education system, and determines the impact that their wellbeing has on their academics. For instance, if a student’s grades are continually dropping, that could be an indicator that an evaluation or a re-evaluation may be the most appropriate next step. Similarly, if your student is having a difficult time concentrating, communicating with the teacher, or following school rules then I would recommend that you reach out to your child’s teacher.
Members of the IEP team that primarily focus on the social/emotional are School Psychologists and the Educationally Related Mental Health Services (ERMS). These professionals determine if it’s appropriate for your child to be pulled out for group or individual counseling services. Similarly, they may recommend a change in the primary disability. Please note that an assessment determining appropriate resources would be determined before services begin.
Many parents are concerned about the process and the stigma that may be associated. The school system is set up to ensure that the student benefits from the resources available. The only resources offered would be based on interviews, data review, testing, and observation. The process is meant to ensure that the Student only receives what is applicable to their individual needs.
As a parent or guardian, you should be aware of your rights. The school should offer you a recommendation to test or retest a child that they believe would benefit from Special Education Services. However, if you are concerned, you have the right to ask for an evaluation. If the evaluation is completed and you have further questions or have difficulty understanding what the IEP team is trying to say, you have the right to ask questions and to ask for an evaluation from a third party location. As the legal guardian, you also have the right to ask for copies and to invite whomever you would like to the meetings. For more information on Educational Rights, please visit: http://www.courts.ca.gov/cms/rules/index.cfm?title=five&linkid=rule5_650or contact your local school district.
Your child’s IEP team wants to make sure you feel comfortable and confident about the decisions made during this process. At minimum, a meeting will be held every year while the child remains in the Special Education system. Asking questions and communicating are important to ensure that there are no misunderstanding and that everyone is in agreement with the next step(s) that are to be taken.
Based on my seven years working in the school system, I can tell you that the two most important aspects of the education system is confidence in the IEP team and an understanding of the process. I highly recommend asking questions, ensuring you know your rights, and openly communicating with the other members of the school IEP team. If needed, lawyers and advocates are available in your area to communicate with you about specifics.