The team involved in creating the independent education plan (IEP) often involves people who play critical roles in your child’s education. It can include you as a parent, your child’s classroom teacher, a special education teacher and even healthcare professionals.
However, what about your child? Can they play a role on their own IEP team?
What does the law say?
State and federal laws do address this question; the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) states that children can be a part of the IEP team whenever it is appropriate, and California law states the same.
Both IDEA and California law clarify that the IEP team must invite the child to meetings when they begin discussing the child’s career and goals or transition services for after they finish high school.
Many states indicate that children can join the IEP team between the ages of 14 and 16. California emphasizes that the student can join whenever it is appropriate, regardless of age, so it is something for parents and the IEP team to consider carefully as the child ages and matures.
What should parents consider?
One thing to note as a parent or guardian is you can always discuss IEP matters with your child. You can even bring them to the meetings, no matter how old they are. This at least can help them have a deeper understanding of the education and support services they receive.
California law as well as the Individuals With Disabilities Act both focus on including the child as a part of the team when it is appropriate primarily because:
- Young children may not provide helpful input that is in their best interest
- Older children can provide more insightful input about their needs and experiences
Additionally, including your child can help give them a voice as well. Children can learn to advocate for themselves, their goals, and their futures when they become an active part of the IEP team.