An Overview Of Legal Timelines For Independent Educational Programs
Parents, students and educators have a right to have a clear understanding of timelines affecting a student’s independent educational program (IEP), summarized below from California laws regarding special education assessment and implementation.
For detailed information about the timelines for individualized education program assessments and delivery, see the California Code, Education Code, EDC, Section 56043. Portions in quotes below are from that code section. Note: The term “parent” may mean a parent or guardian. “Educational agency” may mean a school or school district. Terms in this referring to the student include “child,” “student” and “pupil.”
Initiating And Developing An Assessment
- Within 15 calendar days (while school is in session) of referral for assessment, a proposed assessment plan will be developed.
- Within at least 15 calendar days of receipt of the plan, parent or guardian shall arrive at a decision.
- Within 60 days of receipt of parental consent for the assessment, a determination shall be made as to whether the child has exceptional needs and what those needs are, and an individual educational program (IEP) team meeting shall occur.
- Every year (or more often), the IEP) team shall review the IEP.
- A parent or guardian shall be given adequate notice of IEP meetings to attend. If the child is 16 or older, IEP discussions shall include topics on postsecondary goals and appropriate transition services, and the student will be invited to attend.
- Within 60 days of receipt of the parent’s consent to an assessment, an IEP shall be developed.
- Within 30 days of determination that the child has special needs, an IEP meeting shall be held.
- When the student is 16 or older (or younger, if determined appropriate by the IEP team), the IEP shall incorporate measurable transition-to-postsecondary goals.
- An IEP for a secondary student (grades 7-12) shall include “alternative means and modes necessary for the pupil to complete the district’s prescribed course of study and to meet or exceed proficiency standards for graduation.”
- At least a year before the student turns 18, the IEP will include a statement that the pupil has been informed of their rights and of the rights to be transferred to the pupil at age 18.
- Every year beginning at age 16 or younger, the IEP will include a statement of needed transition services postgraduation.
- The IEP shall be implemented as soon as possible after the first IMP team meeting.
- At least once a year, the IEP team will meet to review the program and the pupil’s progress and make any necessary revisions.
- Approximately once a year (or, at most, every three years), IEP reassessments for the student shall be conducted.
- Within 30 days of a parent’s request, an IEP meeting shall address concerns.
Handling School District Transfers
- In case of a student’s transfer to another school district within the state, if the new district is not operating the same programs that the previous district provided, the new local district shall “provide the pupil with a free appropriate public education, including services comparable to those described in the previously approved individualized education program, in consultation with the parents or guardians, for a period not to exceed 30 days, by which time the local educational agency shall adopt the previously approved individualized education program.”
- If the new district has the same kind of program in place, it “shall continue, without delay, to provide services comparable to those described in the existing approved individualized education program, unless the parent and the local educational agency agree to develop, adopt and implement a new” program consistent with state and federal laws.
- If a student with an IEP transfers from out of state, the receiving local California district shall “provide the pupil with a free appropriate public education, including services comparable to those described in the previously approved individualized education program, in consultation with the parents or guardians, until the local educational agency conducts an assessment.”
- When a student with an IEP moves to a new school, that school shall take steps to obtain the student’s records promptly.
Access To And Acquisition Of Records
- A parent or guardian shall have the right and opportunity to examine all school records about a child and to receive copies within five days of a request for them and before any meeting about a child’s IEP.
- A former educational agency shall send records about a student with exceptional needs to a new educational agency within five working days of a request from the new one.
Complaints To Educational Agencies And Hearings
- Within 60 days after a complaint is filed, an educational agency shall investigate that complaint and give the person making the complaint the opportunity to submit additional information about it.
- The educational agency reviewing a complaint shall make an independent determination as to whether the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) has been violated and issue a written decision.
- Within 15 calendar days of receipt by the superintendent of a request for mediation, a prehearing mediation conference shall be scheduled.
- Within 30 days of the request for mediation, the prehearing mediation conference shall be completed unless both parties agree to extend the time.
- Any request for a due process hearing shall be filed within two years from the time that a party initiating the request knew or had reason to know the underlying facts for the request unless a parent was not allowed to attend a hearing.
Resolution Of Complaints And Appeals
- Within 45 calendar days of the receipt of a written due process hearing request, the superintendent shall ensure that the hearing is completed, including requested mediation.
- If either party will be represented by an attorney, 10 days’ notice shall be given to the other party.
- At least 10 days before a due process hearing, any party shall inform the other of the issues to be decided and proposed resolution.
- At least five days before a hearing, any party has a right to receive copies of all relevant documents, names of witnesses and areas of testimony that they intend to present.
- Within 90 days of a due process hearing decision, any party may make an appeal.
Complaints To The Department Of Education
- A complaint to the Department of Education shall allege a violation of the federal IDEA or a provision of state laws that happened no more than a year before the date that the complaint is received by the department.
For Personalized Guidance And Dispute Resolution
Call 800-768-2168 or send an email inquiry to Leigh Law Group to request a consultation about your child’s or students’ special education matters. Based in San Francisco, we serve clients throughout California, particularly in the Bay Area, East Bay and Southern California, including Silicon Valley, Marin, Walnut Creek, San Ramon, Brentwood and Concord.