Overview of the process

The IEP, the team and the first meeting

If your child qualifies for special education, the next step is to work with the school to create a specific education plan.

This is called an IEP, or Individualized Education Program.

The IEP is written for each child and includes their goals and the services to help them reach these goals.

The school will bring together a group of teachers and specialists who will be involved in your child's education and support services.

This group, along with you--the parents or guardians--will make up the IEP Team.

Your child should be part of this team if they are able to and old enough, at least by age 16. The whole team will create the IEP together and you have a right to make sure it includes what you want.

You will think about your child's needs and your concerns. Then you'll come up with a vision of how you see them succeeding over the next few years. This will be part of the IEP. The school will use this information to draft an IEP for your child. Then you'll have the first IEP meeting to go over the draft and talk about it.

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Planning for your child's educational needs takes many people with different roles.

You, the parent, are an important team member. You know your child better than anyone else does!

The rest of the team should have your child's best interests in mind. Their suggestions may not always be the same as yours, but it’s important that you all work together and see the process as a team effort.


The IEP Team should include:

  • You, as the child's parent or guardian Image of people meeting around a table

  • Your child (if over age 14)

  • At least one classroom teacher

  • At least one special education or ESS teacher

  • An "Officially Designated Representative" (ODR) from the school district 

  • Other specialists--for example, the school psychologist, social worker, occupational therapist, speech therapist, reading specialist, etc.

  • Anyone else you or the school district wishes to invite. You may want to invite a caretaker, outside service provider, or special ed advocate. Tell the school district in advance if you are bringing someone else with you.



Source: MA DOE

We'll go over all of this in rest of this section!