Special Education & Individualized Education Plans (IEP)

Performance Domains

Student should be evaluated for Special Education in all areas - referred to as performance domains - related to the disability or area of concern. Performance domains are the skill areas in which a student can be evaluated and provide a framework for consideration of the individual's instructional needs.

Learn more

Due Process Complaint (Request for Due Process Hearing)

You may use this form if you want to file a due process complaint and request a due process hearing. That process is explained on pages 16 through 24 of the Procedural Safeguards Manual for Parents (Parental Rights in Special Education). After you complete this form, send copies to (1) the school district(s) involved, (2) the AEA(s) involved, and (3) the Iowa Department of Education, Grimes State Office Building, 400 E. 14th St., Des Moines, IA 50319-0146.

See the EducateIowa.Gov Due Process Complaint Form

Suspicion of Disability

There are good reasons for not evaluating a child for Special Education too quickly. Many children can get low level assistance (usually referred to as "interventions" by schools), and have no need for anything else. However, there are also good reasons for pursuing an evaluation without significant delay.

Learn About Evaluations

IEP Overview

An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a written statement of the educational program designed to meet a child's individual needs. Every child who receives special education services must have an IEP. This resource provides an overview of the IEP process.

Find Out More About IEP

Special Education Dispute Resolution Options

We still disagree-What is the next step? After a parent receives a Prior Written Notice (PWN) about a proposed change or refused action and continue to disagree with the school, they have choices for how to resolve those differences. The Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) outlines three resolution options, they are: State Mediation, Due Process and State Complaint. The table below explains the basics of each Special Education resolution

Read the ASK Resource Center PDF

Prior Written Notice

A Prior Written Notice (PWN) is a written explanation of a change the school district or AEA wants to make or refuses to make in a child's Individualized Educational Program (IEP). It is important that parents understand what the school plans to do (or not do) for their child. A PWN must give parents the information they need to actively participate in making decisions about their child's educational program and services.

Read the ASK Resource Center PDF

Checklists for IEP teams - Discussions and Decisions

These checklists were developed during the COVID-19 pandemic to assist teams planning for unique learning environments, however many of the questions will be useful for IEP teams in other situations. The first set of questions is written with the family perspective and the second list offers questions with the perspective of educators and related service professionals.

Read the ASK Resource Center PDF

Evaluation Process: Part One

Parents who have watched their child struggle in school can become frustrated and confused. There are specific next steps that parents can take to request an evaluation for Special Education when they feel a disability might be the reason for their child's difficulties in school.

Read part one of the series

The IEP Team

To write an effective IEP for a child with a disability, parents, teachers, other school staff-and often the child-come together at a meeting to look closely at the child's unique needs. These individuals combine their knowledge, experience, and commitment to design an educational program that must help the child to be involved in, and progress in, the general education curriculum-that is, the same curriculum as for children without disabilities.

Learn More at Parent Center Hub

Understanding Executive Functioning

ASK Resource Center published a two-part newsletter series that focuses on executive functioning (EF) and the important role executive functions have in a child's academic and social development and success. This was published in an effort to share research, resources, and information related to EF, as well as provide an understanding of the important role EF skills have in a child's academic and social development and success.

Learn more About Executive Functioning

Independent Educational Evaluations

In Iowa, evaluations for special education eligibility are usually done by Area Education Agency personnel, together with the educators at your child's school. However, parents have the right to other options if they believe the information described in the EER is incorrect or incomplete.

Learn More

Procedural Safeguard Manual for Parents (Parental Rights in Special Education)

Parents have rights, known as procedural safeguards, which apply to every aspect of the special education process. State and federal laws and regulations outline what needs to happen to ensure that children with identified disabilities and on an Individualized Education Program (IEP) receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE). This document serves as your procedural safeguards notice and will help you understand the rights available to you and your child through a federal law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Iowa Administrative Rules of Special Education.

Read the EducateIowa.Gov PDF

IEP Goals

The special education IEP process is a logical one. Each year the IEP team, which includes parents, develops an IEP for an eligible child. The child's present levels of performance determine the educational needs of the child. The team develops goals to meet those needs.

Read More on Pacer Center

Sample Letter Requesting Prior Written Notice

This is an example letter for parents requesting written notice. The most important parts of the letter will be the blanks filled in with details from the parents! Parents are welcome to use part or all of the sample letter.

Read the ASK Resource Center PDF

Infographic - Participating in Virtual IEP Meetings

At times, you may not be able to join a special education meeting in person. Fortunately, technology allows meetings to be held virtually, by phone or via the Internet. This is now happening with many different kinds of meetings-IEP Team meetings, mediations, resolution sessions, and due process hearings.

Check out the IDEAs that Work Infographic

Evaluation Process: Part Two

The Disability Suspected Form process discussed in part one of this series is just the first step in securing a relevant and useful evaluation. There are important steps to take regardless of whether there is agreement that an evaluation is needed.

Read part two of the series

Medical vs. Educational Model

Some children will receive services through both the educational and medical models. For some children, the frequency or intensity of services they receive at school through the educational model will not meet all of the child's medical needs. There may be goals that are not addressed by school-based services and would require home or community-based services from the medical model. In each setting, the child should be assessed individually to determine the best way to meet his or her needs.

Read the ASK Resource Center PDF

Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)

All school-age children with disabilities who are eligible for a 504 or an Individualized Education Program (IEP) are entitled to a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). FAPE requires students with disabilities receive the services they need to benefit from their education.

Learn More

Iowa's Guidance for Quality IEPs

This area of the Department of Education website provides information for Iowa's special education practitioners. It is hoped that by using the information on this website, Iowa's special education practitioners will be able to lead teams as they develop IEPs that will positively direct the education of all the students in Iowa with special education needs.

Learn More at the Iowa Department of Education

Developing Your Child's IEP

If your child has a disability, he or she may be eligible for special education services in school. This page offers information on how special education services can support your child, and what part you can play in the special education process.

Learn More at Parent Center Hub

Recursos en español

¡Bienvenido a CPIR! CPIR es la sigla del Centro de Información y Recursos para Padres. Servimos como fuente central de información sobre las discapacidades que pueden tener los infantes, niños pre-escolares, estudiantes, y jóvenes adultos, IDEA (el Acta para la Educación de los Individuos con Discapacidades), la ley nacional de educación especial, ESSA (la lay nacional de educación general, Cada Estudiante Triunfa), por la relación que esta ley tiene con las discapacidades, y los Centros de Capacitación e Información para Padres (Cada estado tiene al menos un centro y ellos típicamente pueden ponerle en contacto con recursos locales y estatales. También ofrecen explicaciones, materiales informativos, y entrenamiento a los padres sobre sus derechos bajo IDEA).

Explorar recursos en Centro de Padres Hub

La Evaluación Gratuita de Niños

Cada Estado debe identificar, localizar y evaluar a todos los niños con discapacidades que necesitan educación especial y servicios relacionados. Esta página describe el proceso de obtener y participar en una evaluación gratuita de un niño sospechado de tener una discapacidad o retraso en el desarrollo.

Aprende Más en Centro de Padres Hub

IDEA State Complaint Form

You may use this form if you want to file an IDEA state complaint. That process is explained on pages 15 through 16 of the Procedural Safeguards Manual for Parents (Parental Rights in Special Education). After you complete this form, send copies to (1) the school district(s) involved, (2) the AEA(s) involved, and (3) the Iowa Department of Education, Grimes State Office Building, 400 E. 14th St., Des Moines, IA 50319-0146.

See the EducateIowa.Gov Complaint Form

ASK Resource Center - Authorization to Release Information

This form allows authorization for the individuals, agencies, or organizations listed on it to release, exchange and discuss confidential information regarding my child with ASK Resource Center including verbal and/or written exchange of information, access to educational records and access to the following records (list any educational, healthcare, or other records requested). This release is valid for a period of one year, unless withdrawn or superseded in writing prior to that time.

Read the ASK Resource Center PDF

Progress Monitoring

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that schools monitor progress and provide regular progress reports to parents of students with IEPs.

Learn About Progress Monitoring

Model Form to Assist Parent(s)/Guardian(s) in Requesting a Mediation Conference

Use this for to request a Mediation Conference. You will need to explain the nature of the problem, the facts of this case relating to the above problem and your proposed resolution of the problem.

See the EducateIowa.Gov Requesting Mediation Form


As children grow and develop their needs change. For students with IEPs, those changing needs have to be recognized and reflected in the educational planning process. That means periodic reevaluations for special education services are necessary to determine if a student continues to be an eligible child with a disability as defined by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and, if so, to help gather the most current information about the student's needs and abilities to be used for the development of an appropriate IEP.

Learn About Reevaluation for Students with IEPs

School Accommodations and Modifications: A Parent and Child Checklist

It is important to identify, discuss, and include accommodations and modifications necessary to meet the specific needs of a student in an Individualized Education Program (IEP). Students who receive services under a 504 Plan also need the same kind of individual attention to their plans for accommodations and modifications. The following checklist might be a good starting point for you and your child to think about his or her individual needs to include in the IEP or 504 Plan.

Read the PACER Center PDF