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  • Writer's pictureJessica Lenhart

IS IT TIME FOR AN IEP MEETING? Federal guidance highlights the need to consider pandemic's impact

The Advo-Kids team welcomes opportunities to speak with educators and parents each week. One question raised often recently is when to review and revise IEPs, many of which need changes for pandemic-related reasons.

Under federal and state law, all IEPs must be reviewed at least once annually. See 34 C.F.R. § 300.324, N.J.A.C. 6A:14-2.3. Often, the date for the “annual review” of a student’s IEP falls in the late spring. That is a great time for a team to review a student’s progress over the course of the school year and revise as necessary for the upcoming school year. However, there are many other times that an IEP team can and should meet.

In addition to the required annual review, the federal regulations state that IEP teams must meet to review and revise an IEP where:

  • There is a lack of progress towards the student’s goals;

  • There are re-evaluation results to review and consider;

  • Parents/guardians provide “new information or input”; or

  • “other matters” (34 C.F.R. § 300.324)

Both the school or parents may request an IEP meeting. Based on my recent discussions with educators and parents, right now seems like a great time to ask: does your IEP team need to meet? You do not need to wait until the annual review meeting!

Given all the ways the pandemic has disrupted instruction in our schools, the United States Office for Special Education Programs recently emphasized the need for IEP teams to meet and to consider the pandemic’s impact on students. The federal guidance (*not law*) stated:

With so many children receiving special education and related services through a variety of modalities during the 20202021 school year, it is critically important that the IEP Team also consider any adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on each child with a disability. This includes a discussion of whether the child may have new or different needs than had been determined prior to the pandemic. Other considerations could include, but are not limited to, revising the IEP to address: 

(1) lost skills or a lack of expected progress toward attaining the child’s annual IEP goals and in the general curriculum at the end of the 20202021 school year; 

(2) updated data (e.g., information gathered from
formal and informal assessments, parent input) that reflect the child’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance following the extended time without face-to-face, in-person special education and related services; 

(3) all areas of need, whether or not commonly related to the child’s disability category, or if the child may require different or other services to address new areas of need (e.g., behavioral, social, emotional, and mental health needs, needs that arose during the pandemic); and 

(4) implementing COVID-19 prevention measures such as wearing a face covering/mask or practicing social distancing to provide a safe and healthy school environment and safe participation in the community.

See United States Department of Education, “Return to School Roadmap,” September 30, 2021, Question D-1, page 24.

The Advo-Kids team works to support productive and collaborative IEP team meetings. Please contact us for more information. We welcome your questions or comments about this article. Email us directly at or call our office at 856-642-6445.

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© 2022 Advo-Kids, “All Rights Reserved.” This article is for educational purposes only; it does not provide legal advice. Please be advised that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and Advo-Kids or this author. This article should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

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