You’ve learned the basics of
what an IEP is
, and how it can help your child. But how do you request an
and get your child’s
The process of getting an IEP begins with an evaluation for special education. It ends with a written plan for
services and supports
. But the work of making sure your child is getting needed support continues long after that.
The more you know about how to get an IEP and how it’s put into place, the more active a role you can take in the process. This guide can lead you to the information, advice, and insight you need for this step in the journey.
Many parents wonder how to request an IEP from their school. You actually don’t need to request an IEP. But you do need to ask to have your child evaluated by the school, for free. You can also
pay for a private evaluation
Many parents have questions about how the evaluation process works. If you want to learn more about it, dive into our
comprehensive guide to evaluations
. You’ll find information on the benefits of an evaluation, the evaluation process and timeline, how testing works, and more.
Or you can go ahead and get started by following these
steps to request an evaluation
It’s the first step toward getting the help your child needs to succeed at school.
Determining IEP eligibility
Once your child has been evaluated and testing results are in, the school has to determine if your child is eligible for an IEP. To do this, they have to answer two questions:
Does your child need services and
to succeed at school?
The IEP team
decides if your child qualifies for an IEP at a special “eligibility meeting.” You’ll be at that meeting as part of the team. So might school professionals like a speech-language therapist or an occupational therapist.
If the school finds your child to be eligible, together you’ll start creating the IEP. And if your child doesn’t qualify for an IEP, there are steps you can take.
One thing you can do is request a
for your child. Like an IEP, this plan would provide accommodations or other supports that give your child access to learning.
You can also look into getting an
(IEE). This kind of evaluation is done by professionals outside of the school. Learn
more about IEEs
There are also measures you can take to dispute the school’s findings. These include
and something called a
due process complaint
. That’s typically a last resort to resolving a dispute, however.
If the school finds your child eligible for an IEP, there’s nothing you need to do to get the IEP ball rolling. That will happen automatically and quickly — within 30 days. But you’ll be part of the IEP team creating and overseeing your child’s IEP. Under IDEA, you have the right to participate in every step of the IEP process.