Let me begin with a quote from the Home school Legal Defense Association:
***The public school system uses IEPs to set up individual teaching plans, obtain related therapeutic services, and make needed transportation arrangements. Homeschooling is a different educational arena. Children no longer have to be transported to class, therapeutic services are done privately, and homeschooling offers individualized education for all students—not just special needs children.
We suggest that parents exercise responsible homeschooling by planning and evaluating each child’s progress. For clarification purposes, we designate an IEP for a home educator as a Student Education Plan (SEP).***
Of course, that begs the question, ‘What is an SEP?’ It is your alternative plan, written out. To make your own homeschool version of an education plan, you need to keep records and documentation of every expert, doctor, or consultant you deal with—even if it is just phone call, jot that down. An SEP would document any official diagnosis and then you’d write out what you are doing to deal with it.
Having an SEP gives you more flexibility than an IEP might because you can shop around for a treatment or service that you like. For instance, if you wanted to try holistic natural foods as a treatment for ADD, you can write that into your SEP to show what you are doing for your child, whereas a public school is more likely to suggest FDA approved medication. An IEP is less likely to explore alternative treatments. That is because the IEP isn’t *just* for your child’s benefit. It also legally protects the school to “prove” they are doing something.
Most states have no additional requirements for homeschooling special education needs; the exceptions are Iowa, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Vermont. If you live in one of these states, you will want to research what special restrictions apply.
The short answer is: No, you don’t need to sign an IEP. But realistically you do need some form of extra record-keeping if you have a special needs child, because we live in a world where some people don’t like homeschooling and do like to make false accusations of educational neglect. If it happens to you, will want some sort of documentation, but it certainly does not have to be an IEP
Incidently, most funding for IEP kids comes from the state budget. The federal government pays less than 8% on average, so if you are looking for free or reduced cost services, you will need to consult your state’s department of education. It is fairly common for homeschooled kids to receive speech therapy through a public school; you are entitled to such services provided for in federal legislation, but you are also free to opt out and refuse them.
I know of a family that did not have an IEP and had a hard time getting their child evaluated per our state law, since the child could not communicate and evaluators were leery of trying to do an evaluation without paperwork allowing accomodations. So, having an IEP signed could be useful later for you.
Do check into whether the IEP could be used against you. Is there anything in it that would make someone later be able to use it to push you to put the child back into a brick-and-mortar school setting? As long as it doesn’t appear dangerous to you, I’d sign it. But I’d probably take it first and review it for a day or two, have others review it too, so that I could make a careful decision about it…
No, you don’t. Are you planning to home school him? If so, you definitely do not need to sign or stick to an IEP, however you do have that *OPTION*. Sometimes it can be helpful to keep the IEP while homeschooling because this will make acquiring accommodations for standardized tests and getting access to specialized services like speech therapy or occupational therapy easier. However, it is by no means impossible to do this without an IEP. I am blind, and we homeschooled successfully through high school without an IEP or a 504 plan. It took a little more paperwork on my mom’s part to get accommodations made for me to take the SAT, but it was worth it to not have to be bound by the school system anymore and I was still able to get braille and cane travel instruction as well as accessible software and technology through our state’s Vocational Rehabilitation program.
No, you do not have to sign the IEP. It is merely an option.
If your son was receiving no special education services this year, no. If he had an IEP and received additional services, such as speech or occupational therapy, you’d need an IEP if you plan to homeschool him, but you’d still like him to continue to receive those services from the school district. You can homeschool and continue just those services. The school district won’t provide those services without the contract that the IEP constitutes. If you plan to homeschool him and drop those services, or if he can receive them through another agency, or pay for them privately, then he won’t need an IEP.
My advice is to ask for a copy for your records. I don’t know the rules for your state, but it may be something you would want as refrence in future years.
We got copies of our son’s records and it is encouraging when we see the progress he has made since learning in a more relaxed atmosphere at home.