Tips / Considerations for Navigating the IEP Process

What should I know about Seclusion and Restraint if my student has an IEP?

According to WI state statute: 

“The first time that seclusion or physical restraint is used on a child with a disability, the child's individualized education program team shall convene... as soon as possible after the incident. The child's individualized education program team shall review the child's individualized education program to ensure that it contains appropriate positive behavioral interventions and supports and other strategies to address the behavior of concern, as provided in s. 115.787 (2) (i), and revise it if necessary."

Additionally, if there are particular types of restraint holds that are not appropriate for your child, you should advocate for that to be included in their IEP, which places a legal requirement on the school to not use those.

It is also a requirement that, if the IEP team anticipates that  student with a disability may end up being subject to seclusion or restraint, that a Behavior Intervention Plan is created to 

What should I know about exclusionary discipline (suspension and expulsion) if my child has an IEP?

There are a variety of rules in place to prevent students with disabilities from being excluded from the general school environment. If your student has an IEP, they may not be removed from their educational placement for 10 or more consecutive days for behavior that is a manifestation of their disability. 

If there is a disciplinary incident for which the school is moving to expel your child or make a disciplinary change of placement, and your child has an IEP, then the IEP team must meet for a manifestation determination. Additionally, if a student is removed from their placement for 10 or more cumulative days over the course of the school year (due to suspensions or being sent home from school), the team must determine whether these constitute a “pattern of removals”.

One of the primary purposes of the IEP is to create specialized programming in areas where the child needs it. This means that there may be parts of the day during which a student with an IEP is separated from the rest of their class or most of their class. As mentioned previously, there is significant guidance and regulation mandating that students be educated in the least restrictive environment.

However, it is still important to be aware of the possibility that your child may have parts of the day in which they are pulled out or spend time in a self-contained classroom. Particularly for students who show big or potentially disruptive behaviors in the classroom, you may sometimes see a school pulling a child out of class for a significant portion of the day. 

If you feel as though your child is not getting enough time around their peers, this is a good time to review the IEP and talk through the Program Summary on Form I-4, which includes supplementary aids and services and specialized instruction portions. These two sections will provide a breakdown of how much time the student should be spending within versus outside of the classroom, and the school is expected to follow what is laid out in this section. 

If your child has an IEP, you will end up having a higher level of prescribed contact with the school due to regularly scheduled IEP meetings. This provides more opportunities for you to make your voice heard, and for you to hear directly from the staff working with your child in the school environment. 

Increased documentation

Having an IEP in place increases the level of documentation the school must complete regarding how they are educating your child, including progress monitoring to show how they are making progress toward the child-specific goals that the IEP team collaboratively created for your child. This increased documentation should theoretically enable to you have a better idea of what is going on with your child at school, results in increased legal avenues for intervention, and gives a higher chance of meeting individual your child's needs.