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Steven A. Greenburg, Education Law
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Santa Cruz, CA 95060-4567

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Is your child's IEP truly individualized?

If your child has special education needs, he or she likely has an individualized education program. The purpose of this program is to identify the resources and tools a student needs in the academic setting and then establish them in a comprehensive plan.

However, many parents of children with special needs know that having an IEP does not ensure success. Not only are there failings to comply with IEPs, but recent research suggests that the plans themselves are not properly developed.

According to researchers, IEPs in the settings they studied were not individualized; they were a means of aligning a child's educational needs based on "institutional pressures." The IEPs in their study were designed to fit a child into an educational system instead of adapting the system to a child's individual needs.

Not only did the researchers identify problems with the individual development of the plans, they also learned that neither school they looked at implemented or monitored IEP activities properly. However, the researchers say that the IEPs were still vital in the creation of the educational supports at each school.

The study was small, though the findings are interesting. They suggest that IEPs are not the individualized tools they are supposed to be, and that in an inclusive setting, the plans are not truly serving the individual student's needs. The researchers hope their findings spark valuable discussions and influence future policies.

If you are a parent of a child with an IEP -- or if your child may need one in the coming years -- then it is important to understand that schools and administrators often prioritize regulatory compliance over your child's individual needs. 

As such, you will need to be an advocate for your child, whether you are in IEP meetings or an IEP hearing. Thankfully, you do not have to do this alone; you can work with a special education attorney who can help you understand and protect your child's rights.

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