School “IEP” Process


A retired Newark City Schools Parent Mentor, Eva Marino, suggests parents educate themselves before they meet with school staff to develop or update their child’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Here are some of Eva’s tips for parents.

Do your homework.

The first step in the process of special education is the identification or recognition that a child may be in need of special education services. The next step is planning for the evaluation which will determine if the child qualifies for special education. The information on this page will help you prepare to work with the school to develop an evaluation for the child.

Six Areas that May Affect IEP Services for Your Child

Once your child qualifies for special education through the identification and evaluation process, your child’s IEP team will develop or review and revise the IEP every year. One part of this annual IEP development must be the “consideration of special factors.” Parents will find out why and how these special factors may be key in helping their child make meaningful educational progress.

PACER parent advocates have developed a tool called the Parent Homework Sheet. They developed it to help parents of children with disabilities understand how the needs of the student as stated in the special education evaluation report connect with the goals and support in the student’s IEP (Individualized Education Program). Watching this series of short videos will help parents prepare to discuss their child’s special education services with the IEP team.

Parent Homework Sheet: Why Should Parents Use It?

Do you wish you could go to IEP meetings better prepared to understand and discuss your child’s special education needs? Do you wish you could understand your child’s Evaluation Report better? Do you think your child needs a particular service but don’t know how to ask for it effectively at an IEP meeting? This video will explain the PACER Parent Homework Sheet and how it may be helpful to you.

Eva says learning how to document and express your child’s needs will potentially give you a headache but you need to go through the process.

Know the basics of IDEA.

You will need the basics of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) so that when you are in the IEP meeting, you will know what they are talking about! This video is a great starting point to understand the intent of the law.

Become part of the team.

It is important for parents/guardians to become an important part of the IEP team!

Video topics:

  • 7:3 minutes: Be Empowered
  • 10:31 minutes: The IEP Places to Focus
  • 12:40 minutes:Vision Statement
  • 14:00 minutes: Parent Vision Statement
  • 17.58 minutes: Accomocations
  • 28:09 minutes: Content Modifications
  • 43.42 minutes: Home School Communication
  • 46:00 minutes: Example of Communication Log
  • 50.00 minutes: Behaviors- Keeping the Line of Communication Open
  • 1:05 hour: The Problem Scale


Know what to expect.

The IEP process can be challenging and difficult to navigate. To be the best advocate for your child it is important to know the basis of what is involved, what you can expect, and what you can do to advocate for your child.

Be prepared!

Be sure you understand the entire IEP process.

Learn as much as you can.

The following are excellent web pages with videos and short trainings for parents.