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Providing Copies of IEPs to Teachers and Related Service Providers
The IEP describes the school’s obligation to provide specially designed instruction as well as related and other support services to students with disabilities. In order for students to achieve the full benefit of the IEP planning process, school personnel with responsibility for implementing the IEPs of students with disabilities must understand their responsibilities and have students’ IEPs readily available to them. Chapter 408 of the Laws of 2002 as amended by Chapter 279 of the Laws of 2012 and state regulations prescribe the process for ensuring that this occurs.
Paper or electronic copies of a student's IEP must be distributed to a student's
- general education teachers
- special education teachers
- related service providers
- and every teacher responsible for implementing a service, accommodation and/or program modification.
Schools that use SESIS to provide electronic copies of the IEP
- must ensure that individuals responsible for implementing students’ IEPs are notified and trained on how to access such IEPs electronically.
- must provide paper copies of a student's IEP to teachers and related service providers who do not have access to a computer during the school day.
Additionally, a process must be in place to ensure that students' IEPs are immediately disseminated or electronically available to all appropriate staff when the IEP has been revised during the school year. A school does not meet the requirements of the law by disseminating lists of students requiring test accommodations or summaries of IEPs such as “IEP at a Glance.”
Teachers of students who have been declassified and who continue to receive accommodations, modifications and/or other support services must receive a copy of the student’s last IEP.
Providing Paraprofessionals Opportunity to Review and Ongoing Access to IEPs
- Paraprofessionals responsible for assisting the implementation of a student's IEP must be provided the opportunity to review a copy of the IEP prior to implementation of the IEP.
- Paraprofessionals must have ongoing access to the IEP.
- It may be the same copy of the IEP provided to the student's special education teacher or another teacher or related service provider under whose direction the paraprofessional works.
- It may be a copy maintained in another location in the school building as long as that location is readily accessible to the paraprofessional.
- Schools that use SESIS to provide electronic access to paraprofessionals must ensure that they receive training on how to use SESIS and that computers are available in the school building during the school day.
- Schools are not required to provide a copy of the IEP to the paraprofessional, but they may legally do so if they choose.
Informing School Personnel of IEP Implementation Responsibilities
- Principals must have a process for ensuring that, prior to implementation of a student's IEP, each general education teacher, special education teacher, related service provider and other support staff has been informed of his or her responsibility to implement the recommendations on the IEP, including the responsibility to provide specific IEP-mandated accommodations, program modifications, supports and/or services.
- Principals must designate at least one professional staff member who is familiar with the contents of the student's IEP (such as an administrator, school psychologist and/or teacher) to directly inform appropriate staff of their specific responsibilities. (Teachers and related service providers who were present at the student's IEP meeting are assumed to be familiar with the IEP.)
The Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) allows schools to disclose personally identifiable information in a student’s education records, including the student’s IEP, to school personnel with “legitimate educational interests.” While an IEP contains important instructional information that teachers, related service providers, paraprofessionals and others need to know to implement the IEP, it may also contain sensitive personal information about the student. Teachers and related service providers who receive a copy of a student’s IEP and paraprofessionals who have access to IEPs must ensure that student IEPs remain confidential and are not disclosed to any other people.
Schools districts that provide electronic copies of the IEP, such as through SESIS, are required to implement security systems to prevent unauthorized internal and external access to students’ IEPs. Due to systems integration issues, SESIS does not currently have controls in place to prevent members of the school staff who do not have IEP implementation responsibilities from accessing students’ IEPs. SESIS does, however, maintain a record of every time the IEP is accessed. School staff who are not connected with a student should never use SESIS to access the student’s IEP.
The school is responsible for instructing all people who receive copies of IEPs or have access to IEPs regarding their legal obligation to maintain the confidentiality of student records. Personally identifiable student information from the IEP may not be disclosed to others without parent consent.
State Guidance on Providing Copies of IEPs for Students with Disabilities
This guidance remains valid to the extent it is not inconsistent with the amendments to the law discussed in the January 2013 Special Education Field Advisory.
Providing a Copy of the IEP to Parents
Schools must ensure that a copy of the IEP is provided to the student’s parents. If the IEP is amended with or without an IEP team meeting, the parent must be provided with a copy of the amended IEP immediately.
Storage of IEPs
IEPs are confidential documents and must be kept in locations not accessible by students or staff members who are not responsible for implementing the IEP. While the storage location must not be accessible, this does not necessarily mean that it must be in a locked location.