Summer Break Does Not Mean Students Have to Wait to Ask for an IEP
Students and parents trying to get special education services do not have to put these efforts on hold during the summer. Federal law requires public schools to begin testing students for eligibility of an Individualized Education Program (IEP) within 60 days after the parent/guardian signs a consent form. The summer is not an exception to this 60-day law. So, a school cannot use the summer alone as an excuse to delay or refuse testing for IEP eligibility.
But, your student’s school may take longer than they do during the school year to complete all testing. Most school contracts with teachers prohibit the school from making teachers work over the summer. So, it is possible that some school staff needed to complete really good and complete testing may not be available. That may make the testing less detailed. It could also mean that your student’s school is not able to complete the testing.
This summer is a special opportunity to request your school district start IEP testing because all districts are required to provide more comprehensive summer school program. As students continue to recover from the challenges of remote learning, the Ohio Department of Education made all Ohio school districts create Extended Learning Plans to help students make up for lost time during the pandemic. These Extended Learning Plans are essentially an enhanced summer school program for any student that wants to join. It is a chance for students to get back credits or improve skills they missed over the last year. So, more school staff and students will be available to participate in IEP testing.
Depending on your student’s school district and the type of summer programs they have, this summer may be a chance to start testing for an IEP. If your student has been struggling in school and you think they may have a disability that is in getting in the way of their progress, it may be a good idea to request your school begin testing for an IEP. You need to make this request in writing and explain how your child has been struggling and any diagnoses they have that you think are affecting their progress. It is a good idea to include any medical records that support the diagnosis. You can always ask your doctor for help writing the letter. Send this letter by mail or e-mail to your school’s principal.
If you are concerned that your student’s disabilities are preventing them from reaching their potential in school, you do not have to wait until the summer ends. You can reach out to your school principal to see if IEP testing over the summer would work for your student.