Team Member Requirements:

Parents are key members of the IEP team. They know their child very well and can discuss their child's strengths and needs, as well as their ideas for enhancing their child's education. They offer insight into how their child learns, what his or her interests are, and other aspects of the child’s unique personality that only a parent can know. Parents are able to listen to the comments of the other team members concerning the necessary progress their child needs to make at school and share their suggestions. They also report on whether the skills the child is learning at school are being used at home.

Teachers are vital participants in the IEP team meeting as well as the overall execution on an IEP. At least one of the child's regular education teachers must be on the IEP team if the child is, or may be subsequently, participating in the regular education environment.

The regular education teacher has a great deal to share with the team. i.e, he or she might discuss:

• The general curriculum in the regular classroom

• The aids, services, or changes to the educational program that would help the child learn and achieve success

• Various strategies to help the child with any behavioral issues (if relevant)

• Supports for school staff that would enable the student to advance toward annual goals

• Any services or supports that would assist the child in progressing and being involved in the general curriculum

• Strategies that would enable the child to participate in extracurricular and other activities

• Opportunities for the child to be educated with other children, both with and without disabilities

Supports for school staff may include professional development or continued training. Professional development and training are important for teachers, administrators, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and others who provide services for children with disabilities. Special education teachers contribute important information and experience about how to educate children with disabilities. Because of his or her training in special education, this teacher can talk about such issues as:

• The modification of the general curriculum to assist the child in learning

• Supplementary aids and services that the child may need to be successful in the regular classroom and elsewhere

• How to modify testing so that the student can show what he or she has learned

• Offer guidance concerning other aspects of individualizing instruction to meet the student's unique needs

In addition to offering assistance in writing the IEP, the special educator has the responsibility of working with the student to carry out the IEP. He or she may:

• Work with the student in a resource room or special class devoted to students receiving special education services

• Teach as part of a team with the regular education teacher

• Coordinate with other school staff, particularly the regular education teacher, to provide expertise about addressing the child's unique needs

Individuals, who have the ability to interpret what the child's evaluation results mean in terms of designing appropriate instruction, are essential to the successful implementation of an IEP. The evaluation results are very useful in determining how the child is currently progressing in school and what areas of need the child may have. This IEP team member must be able to discuss the instructional implications of the child's evaluation results in order for the team to plan appropriate instruction to address the child's needs.

The IEP team member representing the school system is also a valuable individual. This person knows a great deal about special education services and educating children with disabilities. He or she can discuss the necessary school resources to help a student succeed. It is important that this individual have the authority to commit resources and be able to ensure that whatever services are set out in the IEP will actually be provided.

There are numerous other individuals with knowledge or special expertise about the child, who are able to offer valuable input. The parent or the school system can invite these individuals to participate on the team. A parent might invite an advocate who knows the child, a professional with special expertise about the child and his or her disability, a vocational educator who has worked with the child, etc. to discuss the student’s strengths and/or needs. The school system may invite one or more individuals who can offer special expertise or knowledge about the child, such as a paraprofessional or related services professional. Because an important part of developing an IEP is considering a child's need for related services, related service professionals are often involved as IEP team members or participants. They share their special expertise about the child's needs and how their own professional services can address those needs. Depending on the student’s individual needs, some related service professionals attending the IEP meeting or otherwise helping to develop the IEP might include occupational or physical therapists, adaptive physical education providers, psychologists, or speech-language pathologists.

Representatives from transition service agencies are important participants when an IEP is being developed for a student of transition age (please see the box below for more information about transition). Whenever a purpose of meeting is to consider needed transition services, the school must invite a representative of any other agency that is likely to be responsible for providing or paying for transition services.

This individual can help the team plan any transition services the student needs. He or she can also commit the resources of the agency to pay for or provide needed transition services. If he or she does not attend the meeting, then the school must take alternative steps to obtain the agency's participation in the planning of the student's transition services. Students may also be a member of the IEP team. If transition service needs or transition services are going to be discussed at the meeting, the student must be invited to attend. More and more students are participating in and even leading their own IEP meetings. This allows them to have a strong voice in their own education and can teach them a great deal about self-advocacy and determination.