Assessing the Need for an IEP

Christopher has been coming to Operation Exodus since kindergarten, and has always been a quiet student. 

A few years ago, when his teacher recommended he be evaluated for an Individualized Education Program (IEP), the Mom checked in with Exodus first. She had been through the process before with her oldest child and knew full well the long term consequences of having a child “labeled” as needing special services.

The decision to have a child evaluated within the DOE system cannot be taken lightly. It’s a designation that will follow that child for their entire school journey. Every future teacher will have certain perceptions and expectations about the student before they enter the classroom. Every new school will have to be assessed for their ability to serve that child’s needs, or whether they can gain the funding to do so.


A family has to stay on top of endless meetings, conference calls, and appointments with education specialists. Decisions about where the student can enroll for middle and high school, how they will be administered the standardized tests, whether they will require a special classroom, it goes on and on, year after year.

Even if a learning disability is clear to everyone, a family may find that there are no public schools available with the services they need. At this point, some parents hire a lawyer to sue the DOE to reimburse them for private schooling, or special services that aren’t covered. This is all daunting, especially if a family has limited time or resources.


Because of her past experience, Christopher’s Mom was inclined to push back and tell the school no. She discussed this decision with Exodus, but in the end it was her decision to make, and she chose to forgo having the evaluation done. This is what we call an empowered parent, one that decides what’s best for her child, and stands by it.

This semester, and now in third grade, Christopher was placed on the honor roll at his school, and he is thrilled. His tutor Vianeli says this has built Christopher’s confidence so much that he is tackling the grade level book they are reading in class, “Because of Winn-Dixie,” by Kate DiCamillo.

We are not suggesting for a minute that a child with a possible learning disability avoid getting the help that they need. But, we must stress how important it is for parents to seek outside opinions from educators they trust. Having an evaluation done within the DOE system is the first step down what can be a very long road, and parents need to be certain they are making the right choice for their child.

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