Here, we break down the timelines and steps involved in the IEP process.

Initial Assessment

Special education law in California states that a school has 15 school days to set up an IEP meeting after a parent has made an initial referral or request. Even if the school chooses to not have a meeting first to discuss the referral and any assessments, the school still needs to obtain the parents’ consent (via a Consent to Assess Form) during those 15 days.

  • As soon as the Consent to Assess Form has been signed, the school must complete a full assessment of the student and hold an IEP eligibility meeting within 60 school days.
  • After determining that the student is eligible for special education, the school and IEP team have 30 days to develop the IEP.

Annual IEP Meetings

IEP meetings are required to be held annually, no longer than 12 months from the date of the last annual IEP.

  • The parent and all members of the IEP team have to be notified of the school’s proposed meeting date early enough to be able to realistically attend the meeting.
  • Schools must also inform parents of procedural safeguards (read more about this below) at each IEP meeting, and are required to provide parents with a copy of the notice at least once each school year.
  • The school must implement the IEP as soon as possible after receiving the parent's consent to the IEP.
  • A parent can request an IEP meeting at any time they feel it’s necessary. Once the school receives a request for a meeting outside of the annual or triennial IEP, the meeting must be held within 30 calendar days of the request (not including days between the school’s regular sessions, terms, or vacation in excess of five school days).

Triennial IEP Meeting and Assessments

Every three years, students who receive services through the special education program are required to be reassessed to determine whether or not they remain eligible for services. The IEP team will collaborate to determine the specific assessments that will be administered during this triennial review. These reviews can be scheduled more frequently depending on student need, but cannot occur more than once per year without parent and district agreement.

  • In California, it’s recommended that the district begin the triennial assessment process at least 60 days before the triennial review.
  • The district has 15 calendar days from the date of referral to propose a plan for re-assessment.
  • Parent(s) have at least 15 calendar days to consent to the proposed assessment plan after they receive it.
  • The parent(s) and district can decide (in a written agreement) that triennial assessments are not needed, or to limit the scope of the review.
  • The district has 60 calendar days after the parent agrees to the assessment plan to hold an IEP meeting to review the results.

Suspension and IEPs

If a student who receives special education services is suspended for more than 10 days, the team is required to hold an IEP meeting to determine if the behavior exhibited by the student is a “manifestation of disability.” If the team determines that the student’s behavior is indeed a “manifestation of disability,” then the team will update the IEP to make adjustments to the supports and services to ensure that the student’s needs are adequately addressed.

Assessments 

Your child has the right to receive assessments for any behaviors or skills where they have suspected disability. If you’re referring your child for special education services, you have at least 15 days from the receipt of the proposed assessment plan to agree with it. The assessment may begin upon receipt of your written consent, and it must be completed and an IEP developed within 60 days.

If you disagree with the school’s assessment, you may request an Independent Educational Evaluation. While there is no specific statutory timeline for a district to respond to a request, it is expected that the district responds “without unnecessary delay.” In California, it is recommended that districts respond within 10–15 calendar days after receiving a request.

Records Request

According to federal law, the school is required to provide education records for review by the parent within 45 days of a request. If the student who receives special education services requests education records, the school must comply without unnecessary delay and before certain events required by IDEA, such as an IEP or due process or resolution session. 

  • Note that in California, if a parent requests copies of student records after an oral or written request, the school must provide the records within 5 business days and prior to any IEP meeting or resolution meeting.

Moving with an IEP

If your child is transferring into a new district, schools are required to hold an interim IEP meeting within 30 days of the student transferring in. Until then, the new district will follow the prior district’s IEP.

  • The purpose of the interim IEP is to review how the services in the prior IEP are working at the new school, and whether the current service providers feel there should be any changes made to the IEP to best serve the student.
  • When your child enrolls in a new school district, the former school district must send your child’s records to the new school within 5 business days upon receipt of the request.

Individual Transition Plan (ITP)

The ITP is a section of the IEP that outlines transition goals and services to prepare students for life after high school. The IDEA requires that all students have an ITP in place by the age of 16. The plan is updated annually.

The student must attend IEP meetings when they turn 17, and be informed of transfer of rights at age 18.

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