this page last modified
IEPs and Legal Rights
Your and your child have certain legal rights in the public education systems. This section helps you determine those right and how to go about enacting them.
The U.S. government guarantees each school age and preschool child the right to free and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment. Schools must provide this education to all handicapped students between the ages of 3 and 21 years. This was written into federal law as PL 94-142, passed in 1975. Since then it has been modified and refined by the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA). More information:
- Bill Summary of Public Law: 94-142 (11/29/75).
Students with cancer are covered by these laws under the category "Other Health Impaired" or OHI, since they have medical problems which adversely affect their educational performance. OHI includes medical conditions which affect strength, energy, or alertness.
To provide for the special education needs of the disabled or health impaired, an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) must be developed for each child. The IEP establishes which special services the child needs and how those needs will be met.
For children who may not meet the specific eligibility criteria for services under IDEA, section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act prohibits discrimination against handicapped individuals. Section 504 requires schools to make reasonable accommodations to ensure full access to educational programs for any child with cancer. According to the Cancervive pamphlet, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), passed in 1990, further extends the rights for full-inclusion, and may help in supporting a specific plan for a child with cancer.
Parents or guardians must request the school administrator to have their child be evaluated for special services. After the formal request has been made, the school district must respond in a specified period of time. A school psychologist will perform an assessment of the child, including psychological and academic testing, and a thorough review of the child's medical, developmental, and school history.
Parents and the school IEP team then meet. Parents may bring a doctor, nurse, or any professional that they choose. The IEP team will review the assessment and discuss any and all findings and relevant information. By law, if the parents disagree with the assessment findings, a second opinion can be requested.
Someone from the school system will be assigned to carry out and monitor each phase of the IEP. A written copy of the IEP must be given to the parents who must agree to the recommendations, either completely or partially, or it is not valid. If the IEP does not seem complete or accurate, parents can appeal the results through a process known as Fair Hearing. The school district must provide information on this process if it is requested.
An annual review of the IEP is required by law, to make sure the child's needs are being met, and to plan for the coming school year. The parent has the right to call for an IEP meeting at anytime that the child's needs have changed and his school program needs to be adjusted."
The five parts of an IEP are listed below.
- 1. description of the child
- 2. goals and objectives
- 3. related services
- 4. placement
- 5. evaluating the IEP
During treatment, your child may need special accommodations, such as a quiet place to rest when they are tired, or summaries of school work when they miss class. After treatment, they may experience learning disabilities due to cognitive late effects of cancer treatment.
The Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) may provide for the following services:
- Tutoring for subjects in which the child has fallen behind or is having special difficulties handling due to illness and/or treatment.
- A liason with regular teachers to help them understand and plan for the impact of the illness and/or treatment on school performance.
- Assistance of the school nurse in administering drugs durin school, notifying staff of medical issues and physician recommendations, coordinating the monitoring of chicken pox outbreaks or other communicable diseases that could adversely affect the child.
- Teaching services provided at home or hospital for prolonged absences or repeated short term absences.
- Special class placement for a child with diagnosed learning disability requiring mor than tutoring to succeed.
- Counseling on school adjustment or emotional issues.
- Adjustment of class schedules, independent studies, waiver of penalties for absences, or modification of graduation requirements.
- Special physical education programs.
- Transportation to and from school.
- Special equipment or physical access to school facilities.
- Specification of ongoing follow-up of the child's progress and recommending additions/deletions to the program based on changing needs.
The following strategies are suggestions of the types of accommodations that could be employed to meet the needs of particular students. The accommodations selected for a student should be those necessary to provide a student qualified under 504 the opportunity to access the programs and activities in the school setting.
Curriculum Adaptations: (These programs may have specific entry requirements to be met.)
- English as a second language (ESL)
- Stepped up language arts (SULA)
- Stepped up math (SUM)
- Remedial reading
- Adapted P.E.
- Other (specify)
- Pair students to check work.
- Write key points on the board.
- Use visual aids.
- Provide access to computer-assisted instruction.
- Check student comprehension of directions.
- Provide a written outline.
- Use multi-sensory methods of instruction.
- Provide small group instruction.
- Allow students to tape record lessons.
- Allow choice about reading aloud in class.
- Provide preferential seating.
- Seat near a role model.
- Maintain physical proximity when giving directions.
- Avoid distracting stimuli.
- Increase distance between desks.
Modified Assignments: (these are especially great for kids with slower processing speeds)
- Give extra time to complete tasks.
- Simplify directions.
- Shorten assignments and provide smaller work segments.
- Allow typewritten or computer printed assignments.
- Use self monitoring devices.
- Reduce homework assignments.
- Do not grade handwriting.
- Provide study skills training/learning strategies.
- Reduce reading level of assignments or instructions.
- Allow tape recorded assignments/homework.
- Provide a structured routine in written form.
- Modify level of difficulty of instructional materials.
Modified Testing Procedures:
- Use open book exams.
- Use oral exams.
- Modify testing responses.
- Permit use of tape recorder for testing.
- Provide multiple test sessions.
- Allow extra time for exams.
- Read test items to students.
- Flexible expectations for applied spelling.
- Intervention from Guidance Counselor.
- Adult Volunteer.
- Short-term counseling.
- Provide social skills group experiences.
- Monitoring by School Nurse.
- Administration of medication.
- Consult with teacher(s), bus driver, or support personnel.
- Parent support group.
- Extra time for transition between classes.
- Key to elevator.
Supplying Organization and Study Skills:
- Monitor homework assignment book.
- Provide an extra set of textbooks.
- Send daily/weekly progress reports home.
- Develop a reward system for in-school work/homework completed.
- Praise identified behaviors.
- Use self monitoring strategies.
- Give extra privileges and rewards.
- Review classroom rules regularly.
- Allow for short breaks between assignments.
- Cue student to stay on task (nonverbal signal).
- Monitor student closely on field trip.
- Implement a behavior management system.
- Allow student time out of seat.
- Contract with the student.
- Increase the immediacy of rewards.
- Implement time-out procedures.
- Implement intervention strategies for transitional periods (cafeteria, P.E., etc.).
Additional lists of suggestions for IEPs
There is a good article on IEPs in the Spring 2000 Candlelighters Newsletter (Candlelighters is now ACCO). Go to the ACCO site to access this article.
The National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities (NICHCY). (1-800-695-0285)
Special Education and Disability Resources Page from The Cure Our Children Foundation. The author of this site keeps a good listing of links pertinent to the special education needs of childhood cancer survivors.
"Cancervive's Teacher's Guide for Kids with Cancer" by Susan Nessim & Ernest R. Katz, Ph.D. Cancervive is located at 6500 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 500, Los Angeles, CA 90048. (310-203-9232) As of October 1999, their web site is just up, and they might add some of the information from the pamphlet to their web site eventually.
How to Write Powerful IEPs on the Wright's Law site. Parent Advocacy: What You Should Do . . . and Not Do; on WrightsLaw. Recommended by a parent.
Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services - U.S. Department of Education: A Guide to the Individualized Education Program.
LD Online. "Understanding the Individualized Education Program (I.E.P.) is essential to maximizing special education services for students with learning disabilities. We've assembled informative articles plus useful forms to help parents and educators make the most of the I.E.P. process."
Kid's Together, Inc. Section on IEP planning. Recommended by a parent.
Be aware that each state has separate guidelines as to the interpretation and implementation of IEPs. You will need to contact your own state's public education system for the details. Parents of children with IEPs report a wide range of success/failure in their interactions with the school systems. Some children get fantastic educational helps without even having an IEP in place; some children get disappointing help even with an IEP. As a parent, you should be aware of your child's legal rights and the potentials of an IEP so that you can be a good advocate for your child.
These pages are intended for informational purposes only and are not intended to render medical advice. The information provided on Ped Onc Resource Center should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you suspect your child has a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.