An IEP (“Individualized Education Program”) is a legal document. It is a sort of contract between a
public school district and a student with special needs. IEPs list out, in great detail, all of the
supports and services that disabled child may need in order to make meaningful academic progress.
IEPs also include individualized academic goals for the child. These goals are then used to measure
the child’s academic progress.
An IEP is created by a Committee on Special Education (“CSE”). A CSE is a team that’s generally
comprised of various educational providers who are employed by the child’s local school district
(i.e., special educators, speech/ language therapists, psychologists, etc.), in conjunction with the
child’s parents. The CSE meets to review and discuss the child’s needs. Based upon the child’s needs,
certain services and supports may get recommended to better ensure that the child will make
academic progress. All of the recommended services and supports then get added into the child’s
Since an IEP is like a contract, the child’s school district is legally required to provide the child with
all of the services and supports that are outlined in the IEP. A school district’s failure to provide the
child with all of the IEP services may subject the school district to legal liability. Examples of
services/ supports that may be included in an IEP are speech & language therapy, counseling,
specialized reading instruction, or a behavioral plan. If a child requires a smaller class size due to his
or her disability, the IEP may list a specific class size and/or student to teacher ratio. The school
district is then legally required to provide the child with a classroom that meets the requirements
listed in the IEP.