**This is an updated and expanded version of the article that was posted last year and contains hyperlinks**
- Communication (Autism Spectrum Disorder, Learning Disability, Language Impairment, Speech Impairment, Deaf or hard of Hearing)
- Intellectual (Giftedness, Developmental Disability, Mild Intellectual Disability)
- Physical (Physical Disability, Blind Low Vision)
The school may recommend that an IPRC (Identification, Placement, and Review Committee) meeting be held to formally identify a student as being exceptional. However, a parent may also make a request in writing to the the school principal. Within 15 days of making the referral, the principal must send written notification, including an approximate date of the IPRC meeting and a parent’s guide containing information about the IPRC.
The IPRC determines if a student meets the criteria for being exceptional and will decide the educational placement of that student. Placements will either be in a regular class or a special education class and are reviewed at least once each school year.
- A regular class with indirect support where the student is placed in a regular class for the entire day, and the teacher receives specialized consultative services.
- A regular class with resource assistance where the student is placed in a regular class for most or all of the day and receives specialized instruction, individually or in a small group, within the regular classroom from a qualified special education teacher.
- A regular class with withdrawal assistance where the student is placed in a regular class and receives instruction outside the classroom, for less than 50 per cent of the school day, from a qualified special education teacher.
- A special education class with partial integration where the student is placed in a special education class for at least 50 per cent of the school day, but is integrated with a regular class for at least one instructional period daily.
- A full-time special education class where the student is placed for the entire school day.
The principal is responsible for ensuring that an Individual Education Plan (IEP) is prepared within 30 school days after the student’s educational placement has been determined. According to the Ministry of Education, the IEP “is a working document which describes the strengths and needs of an individual exceptional pupil, the special education program and services established to meet that pupil’s needs, and how the program and services will be delivered.” Every IEP must include:
- program goals
- an outline of the special education services the student will receive
- a statement about how the student’s progress will be reviewed
- for students 14 years and older, a transition plan
The IEP should also outline any accommodations and/or modifications that may be needed to help the student reach his/her program goals. Alternative programming may also be put into an IEP. These are goals that are not specifically part of the Ontario curriculum. Examples of alternative programs may include speech remediation, social skills, self-help/personal skills and/or personal care programs. The development of an IEP should a collaborative effort among teachers, parents, the student, the school, and other professionals involved with the student. Parents must be asked to sign the IEP and indicate whether they were consulted during its development. Parents are also entitled to receive a copy of the final IEP. The IEP is kept in the Ontario Student Record (OSR), unless parents object in writing. Because the IEP is a working document, adjustments to its program goals may be necessary throughout the school year. Those adjustments should be noted and significant changes should be shared with the parent. The resources listed below provide more detailed information about special education services, IEPs, and the IPRC process.
There is some debate as to whether or not the IEP can be considered a legal document. That’s probably something best left to legal experts. However, keep in mind that unlike an IPRC ruling, there is no real process or procedure to appeal an IEP that a parent/caregiver disagrees with. Signing the IEP just means you’ve been consulted. It does not mean that you agree with it.
Also keep in mind that special education supports can look different from school board to school board. For example, some school boards have self-contained special education classes while others provide a more inclusive model of education. As well, school boards have a range of professionals beyond teaching staff who assist in supporting students with special needs. Your school board may have access to child and youth workers, itinerant teachers of the blind, deaf, gifted, etc., speech-language pathologists, or psychologists, just to name a few. The board’s Special Education Plan is a good source of information about special education services and supports provided by each board and can be found on the board’s website.
- Questions And Answers: Students With Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Special Education
- Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC)
3) Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario (LDAO) – (Check out their IEP online workshop here)
- Off to School – Resources to help prepare your child for each stage in their education
- Inclusive Education – Quick Links
School boards may apply for Special Incidence Portion (SIP) funding for staff support to ensure the health and safety both of students who have extraordinarily high needs related to their disabilities and/or exceptionalities and of others at school.
The Special Equipment Amount (SEA) provides funding to school boards to assist with the costs of equipment essential to support students with special education needs where the need for specific equipment is recommended by a qualified professional.
2) IEP Tools
3) Autism Ontario
- Understanding the Role of the Educational Assistant
- Individual Education Plan (IEP) Meeting
- Strategies for Effective Home/School Communication
- Strategies for Effective Advocacy in Schools
4) Sample IEPs
Ontario Special Education Tribunal (OSET)
If you are not satisfied with the IPRC decisions made by your child’s school board, there are steps you can take at the school board level to try to resolve your concerns. These include asking for a second IPRC meeting and, if that doesn’t work, appealing to a Special Education Appeal Board (SEAB).
At that point, if you are still not satisfied with your child’s placement, then you can appeal to the OSET. The Education Act requires parents to “exhaust all rights of appeal” by going through the IPRC and SEAB, before making an appeal to the OSET.
Special Education Plan
1) School boards are required to maintain a Special Education Plan, review it annually, amend it from time to time to meet current needs of its exceptional students, and submit any amendment(s) to the minister. Members of the community, and particularly parents of children who are receiving special education programs and services are invited to provide input into the board’s special education plan. This may be done through the board’s SEAC at any point throughout the year prior to April as the ministry requires the plan to be submitted by May 15. Your board’s Special Education Plan should be available on the board website. Search here
Transition Planning Resources (Elementary to Secondary)
Transition Planning Resources (Post Secondary)