The following was included in TCTA's 2014-15 Survival Guide, the ultimate reference tool for Texas educators, and is current as of summer 2014 but is subject to change.

Referral for Special Education Services

State rules clarify that if a student continues to experience difficulty in the general classroom after the provision of intervention, district personnel must refer the student for evaluation for special services.

Recently enacted legislation provides that generally the district must conduct an assessment of the referred student within 45 school days of receipt of written consent for the evaluation from the parent/guardian. Certain exceptions apply when the parental consent is given close to the end of the school year.

The Individualized Education Program (IEP) team must then meet to develop an IEP for the child within 30 days of the evaluation (or determination that the child needs special education services). The IEP must be implemented “as soon as possible” after the IEP team meeting, meaning “without undue delay.”

Who Must Attend IEP Team/ARD Committee Meetings

Federal law requires that at least one regular education teacher be a member of the IEP team (or ARD committee) if the student is or may be placed in a regular education setting.

However, the law provides that members of the IEP team/ARD committee are not required to attend meetings if the parent of the student and the school district agree that the attendance of such member is not necessary because the member’s area of the curriculum or related services is not being modified or discussed in the meeting. If the member’s area of the curriculum is being discussed, the member can still be excused by submitting written input on the development of the IEP prior to the meeting.

The law also allows the parent and the school district to agree to make changes to an IEP after the annual IEP meeting without convening another meeting, but by: making the changes in writing; allowing the IEP team to meet via conference call or video; and by requiring school districts to consolidate IEP team meetings as much as possible.

State rules provide that all ARD committee members must have the opportunity to participate in a collaborative manner in developing the IEP. A committee decision concerning required elements of the IEP must be made by mutual agreement of the required members if possible. When mutual agreement is not reached, a written statement of the basis for the disagreement must be included in the IEP. The members who disagree must be offered the opportunity to write their own statements.

Regular Education Teachers Required on the IEP Team/ARD Committee

State rules provide that the regular education teacher who serves as a member of a student’s ARD committee should be a regular education teacher responsible for implementing a portion of the student’s IEP.

Required Elements of the IEP

The IEP must contain a statement of the program modifications or supports for school personnel that will be provided for the child. These are tools that will help school personnel work more effectively with the child and could include special training for the child’s teacher. The IEP must include enough information to enable teachers to understand what is required to effectively implement it. TCTA-initiated legislation passed in 2013 specifies that a student's Behavioral Intervention Plan is also considered to be part of the IEP.

TEA’s Model IEP Form

TEA developed a model IEP form that includes only information required by state or federal law for school districts to use, if desired.

IEP Distribution

Federal regulations require that the child’s IEP must be accessible to each regular education teacher and anyone else responsible for its implementation as soon as possible after it is finalized and before beginning work with the child. (Texas rules require that each teacher of the child be provided a copy of the IEP.)

Each teacher who will provide services to the child must be informed of his/her specific responsibilities related to implementing the child’s IEP and the specific accommodations, modifications and supports that must be provided for the child in accordance with the IEP. Schools and teachers have continuing obligations to make good faith efforts to assist the child in achieving the IEP goals and objectives.

See also:

Individuals With Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA)

Inclusion & ARDs for regular education teachers

Special Education