Related services should be requested at an IEP meeting and, if determined appropriate, written in your child’s IEP even if the services will not be provided by the school district. It is important to write the service into the IEP because it helps to establish that the service is an educational service. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the school district to provide the services should any other agency ever stop the service but the child still needs it. [34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.154(b).]
In addition, it is not enough merely to list related services (e.g., “speech therapy”, “OT/PT”, “psychotherapy”, etc.) that your child is to receive in the IEP.
The IEP must also set out the specific frequency, location, and duration of the service to be provided. [20 U.S.C. Sec. 1414(d)(1)(A)(i)(IV); 34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.320(a)(7); Cal. Ed. Code Sec. 56345(a)(7).]
Changes to the amount of services listed in the IEP cannot be made without holding another IEP meeting, unless you agree to a change being made without a meeting. [34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.324(a)(4); Cal. Ed. Code Sec. 56380.1(a).] However, as long as there is no change in the overall amount, some adjustments in scheduling the services should be possible (based on the professional judgment of the service provider) without holding another IEP meeting. You should be notified whenever this occurs.
You should clearly describe in the IEP the services required. Instead of “speech therapy,” the statement might include: individual instruction in phonology and syntax one time per week, 45-minute session; and small group (1-3 students) instruction one time per week, 45-minute session provided by a credentialed Language, Speech and Hearing Specialist, with supportive group activities on a daily basis in the classroom, provided by the teacher or paraprofessional (instructional aide) in consultation with the Specialist.
If an IEP contains goals for related services, such as speech articulation progress for speech therapy services, these goals should be written into the IEP in measurable terms along with a description of how progress toward those goals will be measured and what the schedule will be for informing you on the progress your child is making toward those goals. [34 C.F.R. Secs. 300.320(a)(2) & (3); Cal. Ed. Code Secs. 56345(a)(2) & (3).]
Parents should make sure that the goals and services requested are written specifically into the IEP and do not include conditions of inappropriate ranges or time periods. A statement such as: “Student will receive speech therapy one to three times per week” or “up to three times per week” will only entitle the student to receive speech therapy at most one time per week. Similarly, a statement such as: “Student will demonstrate up to three of the targeted skills by June 1” means that the student will have met the goal as long as he can demonstrate one, or perhaps none, of the three targeted skills.