CRHE recommends that each homeschooled child with disabilities have either an Individualized Education Program (IEP), created cooperatively by the child’s parents and the school district, or a Privately Developed Plan (PDP), created cooperatively by the child’s parents and their service providers. Please note that PDPs should have all of the same elements as IEPs. The only distinction should be that one is developed through a public school while the other is developed privately.
How do you know whether your child should have an IEP, or a PDP? In general, developing an IEP through the school district is preferable if you want your child to receive services through their local school. However, disability services offered through the school district may not be available to homeschooling families in every state or school district. If you are interested in receiving services through your child’s school, we recommend that you consult your state’s homeschooling law, your state department of education’s website on homeschooling, and your local school district. (For more, see disability law & homeschooling.)
Some states, such as Oregon, legally require parents who homeschool children with disabilities to have either an IEP or a PDP. Oregon law defines the PDP as follows:
“Privately developed plan” (PDP) means an individual plan developed by a team including the parent and one or more private service providers to address the educational needs of a child with a disability. A PDP shall include individual educational goals for the student and a statement indicating how satisfactory educational progress will be determined for the student.
We recommend that parents who are homeschooling children with disabilities create an IEP or PDP for their child regardless of whether their state requires it. Remember, the goal is to ensure that children with disabilities receive the services and accommodations they need to succeed and thrive. Additionally, if questions ever arise about your homeschool, having an IEP or a PDP for your child will help you demonstrate that you are a responsible homeschooling parent.
IEPs (and PDPs) for disabled children must include annual goals that enable them to make progress towards the general education curriculum, which is understood to mean your state learning standards. In other words, an approach of “this child can’t learn, so we’ll just give up” is deemed unacceptable. Even if a child is unable to achieve the standards, they should still be making consistent, measurable progress towards them. Every homeschooled child has the right to an education that supports the development of their personality, talents, and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential.
What should your child’s IEP or PDP include? You can read a legal description of the Individualized Education Program (IEP), including which individuals are expected to be on the individualized education program team, under (d) Individualized Education Programs. You can also read an explanation in the more parent-friendly A Guide to the Individualized Education Program, by the U.S. Department of Education.
Every IEP must include the following sections:
For children who are teens, IEPs must include additional sections:
These last three items are especially important for disabled children who are homeschooled, because services for disabled teens transitioning to adulthood are often centered on public high schools. For example, in some cases parents may have difficulty accessing jobs programs and other services designed for disabled teens and young adults that are provided through public high schools. For this reason, if you are planning to homeschool a disabled child through high school, you should be proactive about identifying and accessing the transition services your child will need to achieve the highest degree of independence possible for a child with their disability.
To see what the IEP process looks like in a public school and what questions are asked, see this Individualized Education Program Conference Summary Report template created by Illinois State Board of Education for use in Illinois schools. If you are creating a PDP for your child, you may want to consider using this template (or one like it) to guide the questions you ask as you walk through this process.
You may also find it useful to look at additional IEP templates:
If you are creating an IEP through your school district, you will need to use their preferred form. However, if you are creating a PDP, you will need to develop your own form, together with your child’s service providers. While the contents of an IEP (which is developed in cooperation with a school district) are set by national disability law, the contents of a PDP created for a homeschooled child is not set in stone. While your child’s PDP should include at least all of the same sections and information as an IEP, you may also add other sections, or make other adjustments.
To assist parents developing PDPs for their children, CRHE has created its own sample PDP template. This template is downloadable and is available free of charge:
Remember that you should not create your child’s PDP completely on your own. Instead, you should develop your child’s PDP cooperatively with your child’s service provider or other relevant individuals. IEPs are created in cooperation with multiple stakeholders, and PDPs should involve as many of these same individuals as possible.
By law, the IEP process must involve all of the following individuals:
When a child is homeschooled, the parent is often playing a double role as both the child’s parent and the child’s teacher. However, in some cases it may also be appropriate to include a tutor or co-op teacher.
For a homeschooled child, this could be a therapist, specialist, or other service provider.
This is likely not applicable for a PDP, because when the school district is involved (for example, when a homeschooled child is receiving speech therapy at their local public school), the school will work with the parents to develop an IEP, not a PDP.
When a child is homeschooled, this should be the individual who will conduct the child’s assessment at the end of the year. As we discuss in our section on assessments, this should be a certified teacher who is not a friend or close family member.
For children who attend public school, this may include the school nurse, or, if the child is a ward of the state, the child’s caseworker. For children who are homeschooled, this may include the child’s pediatrician, or regular caregivers other than the parent. Note that all PDP teams should include at least one professional outside of the child’s family.
Which individuals you choose to involve in creating your child’s PDP will vary depending on individual circumstances, but the categories above should give you a starting point! Remember, you should never try to homeschool a child with disabilities completely on your own; you need a support system and your child needs a whole team of people supporting their development. Think of the PDP process as an opportunity to bring your child’s whole team together! In some cases, this may mean scheduling a physical meeting, with the various participants gathered around a table (or over Zoom). In other cases, you may find it useful to have an individual review a draft of your child’s PDP on their own time and provide feedback. Whatever process you use, you should work to incorporate your child’s whole team in the PDP process.
At the end of the year, you will need to have your child assessed as laid out in your child’s PDP. You should then store both the PDP and your child’s assessment with your child’s permanent academic record. And remember—this is an annual process! Your child will need a new PDP at the beginning of each school year.
Don’t forget to read the other articles in this series!
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