Ask the Experts

Q: How Long Should It Take to Implement an IEP?

How long should it take to get up and running with the accommodations and services stipulated in an IEP? If your student with ADHD is waiting more than a few weeks into a new school year, that is a problem.

Q: “Shouldn’t my son’s new teachers be made aware of his IEP at the beginning of the school year? His IEP wasn’t reviewed until two months into the school year.”

Your son’s teachers should be familiar with his IEP from the first day of school. Ideally, they should have reviewed it before school began — even at the end of the previous school year — so they could immediately implement classroom-based strategies and supports.

An IEP is a continuing document that is designed to be in place and followed from year to year until it is updated at the annual meeting required by the IDEA. Typically, a meeting will be held in the spring of the school year, at which time the committee creating the IEP will review how the past year has gone and look ahead to the upcoming year.

The IEP from that meeting creates an ongoing obligation of the school to provide your son with the services, supports, and accommodations that are set forth in the IEP. It doesn’t “turn off” from one school year to another. Sometimes, schools need a week or two at the beginning of the year to schedule related services (like speech or occupational therapy) or academic supports (like special reading instruction). A delay of more than that is unacceptable

Start by meeting with your son’s teachers, to confirm that they were provided with the IEP in a timely way. Depending on the outcome of that conversation (Did the teachers get the IEP but not review it? Did the school fail to share it with them?), I would meet with the principal or head of the guidance department, and remind them that this delay is unacceptable and a violation of your son’s right to an appropriate education under the IDEA. I would also raise this issue with the IEP committee (you can call a meeting at any point during the year), and insist that they come up with a plan to fix this problem.

[Free Mid-Year Checkup Guide for Students with ADHD]

Susan Yellin, Esq., is an attorney and mother of three. She is the director of Advocacy and Counseling Services at The Yellin Center for Mind, Brain, and Education, a New York City-based practice that provides educational evaluations, management, and guidance for students from grades K through graduate school. She is a member of the ADDitude ADHD Medical Review Panel.