:: Finding a Support Person
:: Identification, Placement and Review Committe (IPRC)
:: IPRC Appeal Process
:: Individual Education Plan (IEP)
:: Kid's Help Phone

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Issues of Concern for Students with Special Education Needs


Before a student can receive special education programs or services, he or she must first be identified as “exceptional”.

A student is considered “exceptional” if they have special learning needs, behavioural problems, or a specific disability or diagnosis.  The Ministry of Education defines exceptional students are those whose behavioural, communicational, intellectual, physical, or multiple exceptionalities are such that they are considered to need placement in a special education program.

The decision to formally identify students as “exceptional” by an Identification, Placement and Review Committee (IPR Committee; or IPRC) is a problem area for many parents with children that have special education needs.

Part of the problem is that parents do not always understand the specialized language used by school and school Board personnel, or the process by which schools and School Boards make decisions.  With an understanding of this process, and the specialized language used by school and School Board personnel, you can confidently advocate on behalf of your child.

Classroom Placement

The kinds of supports or accommodations the school can decide to provide to your child will depend on . . .

i)  whether your child is formally identified as exceptional by an IPR Committee,
ii) the category and severity of exceptionality, and
iii) the classroom placement of your child.

After identifying a student as “exceptional”, and deciding on the category of exceptionality, the IPR Committee must choose between placing your child in a regular class or a special class with other students with special education needs.

The IPR Committee must first decide whether the student can be accommodated in a regular classroom setting and what kind of supports the student would require in that setting.  If the IPR Committee decides to place the student in a special education class, the committee must provide reasons for its decision.

Parents may request reviews and appeals of these decisions.

Special Education Services

Another problem area of the IPRC process is that the decisions of the IPR Committee do not include decisions about the specific services that will be provided to your child.

It is sometimes difficult for parents to have these issues discussed at IPRC meetings because they are not part of the formal identification and placement decisions that the IPR Committee needs to make.

Most of the decisions about specific programs and services for your child will be made during the development of your child’s Individual Education Plan (IEP).  However, IPR Committee meetings are good opportunities to begin discussions about the specific programs and services that will be provided for your child.

The IPR Committee, Appeal Boards, and Ontario Special Education Tribunals can make recommendations about specific special education services that should be provided to your child, but these recommendations are not binding, and cannot be appealed.

Individual Education Plans (The IEP)

Another common problem area for parents of children with special education needs is their children’s Individual Education Plans (IEPs).

The Development of the Plan
In some cases, the thought and work that needs to go into developing a students IEP does not happen.  The result can be a poor quality plan that does not meet your child’s needs, or which does not provide specific direction to teachers and other school personnel about the services that will be provided to your child.

The development of your child’s IEP is also a good place to discuss school discipline issues if it is expected that a child’s behaviour may cause problems.  If parents and teachers can discuss potential problems and agree on what should be done in circumstances where these problems might arise, they can avoid conflict in the future, and problems can be prevented.

Implementation of the IEP
There can also be problems with the implementation of Individual Education Plans.  In too many cases, the Individual Education Plan that has been developed for a child is not used as a working document by the classroom teacher, and is ignored.  Teachers need to work with these documents on a regular basis, making records of the services that are provided to your child, and revising these plans as necessary throughout the school year.

Individual Education Plans need to be reviewed and improved by parents and teachers on a regular basis.  As a parent or guardian, you have an important role to play in making sure your child’s Individual Education Plan is implemented.  Participating in the development and review of the IEP, and communicating with the classroom teacher about the IEP on a regular basis, will help to ensure that the teacher and other school personnel are doing their jobs as outlined in the plan.

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