The purpose of this parent guide is to provide you with information about the Identification, Placement, and Review Committee (IPRC), and to set out for you the procedures involved in identifying a pupil as "exceptional", deciding the pupil’s placement, or appealing such decisions, if you do not agree with the IPRC.
If, after reading this guide, you require more information, please contact your child’s school or one of our two the School Board Offices.
What does the word "exceptional" mean when it is used to describe a child?
The use of the term "exceptional pupil" is required by the Ministry of Education and Training and means "a pupil whose behavioural, communication, intellectual, physical or multiple exceptionalities are such that the pupil is considered to need placement in a special education program by a committee of the board." This committee is called Identification, Placement and Review Committee (IPRC). Student are identified according to the categories and definitions of exceptionalities provided by the Ministry of Education and Training.
What is the school board’s responsibility under the Education Act?
According to the Education Act, all school-age children are entitled to a publicly supported education. Pupils who are exceptional have a right to special education programs and services, which are suited to their needs. The Education Act requires Boards to provide, or obtain from another Board, special education programs and services for all of their exceptional students. It also provides an appeal procedure for parents who disagree with the appropriateness of their child’s placement in a special education program.
What is a special education program?
A special education program is defined in the Education Act as an educational program that:
- is based on, and modified by the results of continuous assessment and evaluation; and
- includes a plan (called an Individual Education Plan or IEP) containing specific objectives and an outline of special education strategies that meet the needs of the exceptional pupil.
What are special education services?
Special education services are defined in the Education Act as the facilities and resources, including support personnel and equipment, necessary for developing and implementing a special education program.
What types of programs and placements are available?
Most students continue to attend their home school and will follow a program that has been developed by the school and system resource personnel. This may require that part of their day be spent in a smaller resource setting, or resource support may be an integrated part of in-class activity. Self-contained programs for students with specific needs are also available. In all cases, integration into the regular classroom is always a goal, where appropriate.
Schools will provide parents with information about the range of academic and extra-curricular opportunities available within the school in order to recognize the student’s strengths and to meet their needs.
If I believe that my child needs special education services, how can I arrange that?
You would discuss it with the principal of your child’s school. The principal may, after notifying you, refer your child to an Identification Placement and Review Committee (IPRC), or you may write to the principal of your child’s school to request that your child be referred to the IPRC. The principal must, on your written request, refer your child to the committee. Within 15 days of receiving your request or giving you notice, the principal must provide you with a copy of the guide and advise you of approximately when the IPRC will meet.
What is an IPRC?
The Identification, Placement and Review Committee is composed of at least three persons, one of who must be a principal or supervisory officer of the board. Regulation 181/98 requires that all school boards set up IPRCs.
What is the role of the IPRC?
The IPRC will:
- decide whether or not your child should be identified as exceptional
- identify the areas of your child’s exceptionality, according to the categories and definitions for exceptionalities provided by the Ministry of Education and Training
- decide an appropriate placement for your child (information on placement options is available through the school personnel)
- review the identification and placement at least once in each school year.
Learn more about the different Exceptionalities.
What procedures must be followed by the IPRC?
The principal of the school shall, within 15 days of your child’s referral to the IPRC, provide you with a copy of the parent guide outlining the procedures and processes of the IPRC and will let you know approximately when the committee expects to meet for the first time to discuss your child.
An educational assessment will be obtained to help the IPRC with its decisions. If the committee feels that a health assessment or a psychological assessment of your child is also required for the committee to make its decisions, it may request these assessments. The IPRC can request information that is contained in the Ontario Student Record, but only with your written permission.
Before any decisions regarding your child’s possible placement, the IPRC shall consider whether placement in a regular classroom with special education services would meet your child’s needs and that this is consistent with your preferences. If the committee agrees that placement in a regular classroom is best and you agree, then the committee shall decide in favour of a regular classroom placement with appropriate special education services. If the committee decides that your child should be placed in a special education class, it must state the reasons for that decision in its written statement of decision.
Who can attend an IPRC meeting?
Parents are entitled to be present at the meeting and participate in all committee discussions about your child, and to be present when the committee’s identification and placement decision is made. You are welcome to bring a supportive person with you. This could be a friend, a professional or an Association representative.
Either you or the principal of your child’s school may make a request for the attendance of others at the IPRC meeting. This may include:
- a resource person such as your child’s teacher, special education staff, board support staff, or the representative of an agency, who may provide further information or clarification;
- your representative – that is, a person who may support you or speak on behalf of you or your child; (For your information, a list of support people is listed with this guide.)
- an interpreter, if one is required. (You can request the services of an interpreter through the principal of your child’s school.)
- Anyone is welcome to attend, but you are asked to let the principal know if others will be attending in order for time and space provisions to be made.
What information will parents receive about the IPRC meeting?
At least 10 days in advance of the meeting, the chair of the IPRC will provide you with written notification of the meeting and an invitation to attend the meeting as an important partner in considering your child’s placement. This letter will notify you of the date, time and place of the meeting, and it will ask you to indicate whether you will attend.
Before the IPRC meeting occurs, you will receive a written copy of any information about your child that the chair of the IPRC has received. This may include the results of assessments or a summary of information.
What if parents are unable to make the scheduled meeting?
If you are unable to make the scheduled meeting, you may:
- contact the school principal to arrange an alternative date or time; or
- let the school principal know you will not be attending, and as soon as possible after the meeting, Central Office will forward to you, for your consideration and signature, the IPRC’s written statement of decision noting the identification and placement and any recommendations regarding special education programs and services.
What happens at an IPRC meeting?
The chair introduces everyone and explains the purpose of the meeting. The IPRC will review all available information about your child. The members will:
- consider an educational assessment of your child;
- consider, subject to the provisions of the Health Care Consent Act, 1996, a health or psychological assessment of your child conducted by a qualified practitioner if they feel that such an assessment is required to make a correct identification or placement decision;
- interview your child, with your consent if your child is less that 16 years of age, if they feel it would be useful to do so; and
- consider any information that you submit about your child, or that your child submits if he or she is 16 years of age or older.
The committee may discuss any proposal that has been made about a special education program or special education services for the child. The committee will discuss any such proposal at your request, or at the request of your child, if the child is 16 years of age or older.
You are encouraged to ask questions and join in the discussion. Following the discussion, after the information has been presented and considered, a decision will be made. As soon as possible after the decision is made, the chair of the IPRC shall send a written statement to you, and to your child, if 16 years of age or older, to the principal who referred your child, and to the school board’s representative on the committee.
What is in this written statement of decision?
The statement of decision states whether the committee has identified your child as an exceptional pupil. If your child is identified as exceptional the statement gives the placement decision, assessment of your child’s strengths and needs, as well as the category and definition of your child’s exceptionality. If you are in agreement with the decision, your written signature will be requested for the placement to begin.
How soon can the placement decision take place?
The decision cannot be implemented until you consent in writing to the placement, or the time period for filing a notice of appeal has expired. The principal of your child’s school is notified about the placement and an Individual Education Plan (IEP) is developed.
What is an Individual Education Plan?
An Individual Education Plan or IEP outlines the specific educational objectives for your child, outlines the special education services needed by your child, and explains how your child’s progress will be evaluated. The IEP is developed through collaboration with the principal, the classroom teacher, the resource teacher and the parents, and the student if 16 years of age or older. This will be completed in 30 days after the placement begins. You are encouraged to participate in the development of the IEP and you will receive a copy.
For students 14 years and older (except for those identified as exceptional solely on the basis of giftedness), a plan for transition to appropriate post secondary school activities, such as work, further education, and community living must be included.
How often is my child’s placement reviewed?
A committee shall review the identification and placement of your child at least once each school year. You are entitled to waive this yearly review if you agree with the continuation of the program. (In addition you may in writing request a review or the principal of the school that your child attends may request a review after your child’s placement has been in effect for three months.) Before any changes in placement are made, you will be involved in the discussion. You must agree in writing to such changes in placement.
What can parents do if they disagree with the IPRC decision?
If you do not agree with either the identification or placement decision made by the IPRC, you may:
- within 15 days of the receipt of the decision, request that the IPRC hold a second meeting to discuss your concerns; or
- within 30 days of receipt of the decision, file a written notice of appeal with the Director of Education (refer to back of Guide for the correct address.)
If you do not agree with the decision after the second meeting, you may file a notice of appeal within 15 days of your receipt of the decision. If you do not consent to the IPRC decision and you do not appeal it, the board will instruct the principal to implement the IPRC decision, following the 30-day appeal period.
How do I appeal an IPRC decision?
If you disagree with the IPRC’s identification of your child as exceptional or with the placement decision of the IPRC, you may within 30 days of receipt of the original decision or within 15 days or receipt of the decision from the second meeting described above, give written notification of your intention to appeal the decision to the Director of Education (refer to back of Guide for the correct address).
The notice of appeal must:
- indicate the decision with which you disagree; and
- include a statement that sets out your reasons for disagreeing.
Who takes the next step?
Thirty days after your written notice of appeal the Board must appoint a three-member Special Education Appeal Board. One member is selected by the board where your child is placed, one member is selected by you and the chair is jointly selected by the first two members or where they cannot agree, by the Regional Director of Education. None of the members of the Appeal Board shall have any prior involvement with the issue under appeal.
What happens next?
The Chair of the Appeal Board arranges for a meeting of the members of the appeal board and will gather information relating to the appeal. This meeting will take place within 30 days after the chair is appointed and will be conducted informally. Three days after the meeting ends, the Appeal Board must reach a decision and will notify you, the IPRC and the Secretary of the Board in writing of its decision. Within 30 days the school board shall accept or reject the decision of the Appeal Board and shall notify you and the IPRC in writing.
If I still disagree with the decision, what steps can I take?
You may apply to the Secretary of a Special Education Tribunal for a hearing to appeal the Special Education Appeal Board decision. The decision of the Special Education Tribunal is final.
Where can I find out more about Special Education?
- The Education Act, Regulation 181/98
- The Special Education Information Handbook
- District Special Education Guidelines
- District Special Education Coordinators (Call the office for the name of the coordinator with responsibility for your child’s school.)
I’ve heard about SEAC, what is it?
SEAC (Special Education Advisory Committee) is a School Board committee that has trustee and parent representation on it. The parent representatives come from local associations which operate to further the interests and well-being of children with special needs. Parent representatives are nominated by their organization and are appointed by the Board to serve on the committee. Up to 12 associations may be represented, as well as 3 "members at large". This committee is responsible to the Board on all matters related to providing special education programs and services to exceptional pupils. It works with the board to review the Board’s special education plan and presents to the board any recommendations that it makes as a committee.
What parent groups have representation on SEAC?
The following groups have representation on SEAC. The members and contact person’s name and phone number are attached on a separate page. These are resource people available to answer your questions.
- Autism Ontario - Chatham-Kent Chapter
- Autism Ontario - Sarnia Lambton Chapter
- Community Living Chatham-Kent
- Community Living Sarnia-Lambton
- Community Living Wallaceburg
- Lambton County Developmental Services
- Learning Disabilities Association of Chatham-Kent
- Learning Disabilities Association of Lambton County
- Ontario Association for Families of Children with Communication Disorders
- St. Clair Child and Youth Services
- VOICE for Hearing Impaired Children
What other personnel are available to assist parents?
SEAC has representation from two Lambton Kent District School Board Trustees and also the Superintendent of Special Education. They can direct you to appropriate administrative staff.
What are Provincial Schools and Demonstration Schools?
Provincial schools are highly specialized schools working with children who are deaf-blind, blind, or deaf. Demonstration schools provide a specialized residential program for students with severe learning disabilities whose educational needs cannot be adequately met in their local boards.
Who makes up the Identification, Placement and Review Committee?
The members of an IPRC can be a combination of three (3) of the following people:
- Coordinator of Special Education for the Lambton Kent District School Board
- Principal or designate
- Resource or Special Education Teachers
- Classroom Teachers
- Parent/guardians and/or students are important participants in the decision-making process but are not members of the committee itself.
What does an IPRC determine?
The primary task of an Identification, Placement and Review Committee is to decide whether or not you should be identified as an "exceptional student" and to determine the type of special education program and services that are necessary to meet your strengths and needs. Often this is simply access to the support of a learning resource teacher in your school but may result in a student’s placement into a special education program. Information is gathered by your school, and shared with the committee in consultation with you (if you are 16 years of age or older) and your parents (unless you are 18 years of age).
What information does the committee use to make its decisions?
A variety of information is used to make decisions about whether or not you are entitled to access special education supports and services.
The following may be used:
- Past and current grade reports
- Observational data gathered by school staff
- Educational tests results such as the Brigance or the Canadian Achievement Test
- Psychological assessments completed by Board or community personnel
- Other relevant reports (i.e., audiology or medical)
- All information provided to the committee is shared with parents/guardians and the student (if 16 years of age or older) prior to the meeting.
What happens once (or if) I have been identified by the committee as "exceptional"?
At the meeting of the IPRC, a "Statement of Decision" is prepared stating your exceptionality and recommended placement.
If you are in agreement with the decision of the committee, the written signature of your parent/guardian (or your signature if you are 18 years of age or older) will be required for the placement (and recommended special education programs and services) to begin.
Within 30 school days of this meeting, an Individual Education Plan (IEP) will be developed in consultation with you (if you are 16 years of age or older) and your parent/guardian. This IEP will outline your strengths and needs as identified by the IPRC and describe the program that has been developed to meet your needs. You will be provided with a copy of the IEP for your records.
A copy of the IEP will also be provided to your teachers so that they can better meet your needs within the classroom setting.
Each year, the IPRC will meet to formally review your identification and placement for the next school year and outline the special education programs and services that shall be put in place to meet your individual strengths and needs. Depending upon your age, you and/or your parent/guardian will be invited to attend.
What should I do if I still have questions about the IPRC process?
It is important to ask questions about the Identification, Placement and Review Committee process. The school principal, the learning resource teacher as well as the guidance and career education teacher (secondary) in your school are excellent sources of information regarding this process and would be happy to meet with you to discuss any questions you might have. To find out more, refer to the parent information section.