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IEP FAQs Pop-Up
Special Factors in IEPs

Question 4.

My child is from another country & on an IEP. He doesn't speak English. Should he receive special education in English or in his native language?

Answer

Children must be proficient in English before they can become proficient in other subjects.

If your child does not read, write, or speak English well, the IEP team needs to ensure that your child's language needs are met.

The IEP team makes decision about how your child's limited English affects his need for special education and related services.

The team must make decisions about whether:

1. your child will receive instruction in English and/or in his native language so he can participate in the general curriculum.

2. your child's special education and related services will be provided in his native language.

3. your child needs tutoring in English as a service in his IEP.

Before making these decisions, the IEP team must obtain an assessment of your child's English proficiency.

This assessment should include objective data about your child's skill levels in the following:

  • reading
  • writing
  • speaking
  • understanding

Your child's IEP must specify his need for instruction in English and/or his native language, and his need for English language tutoring.

If your child needs test accommodations because of limited English proficiency (e.g., increased time, translating directions into his native language, etc.), these accommodations must be written in his IEP.

Legal Resource

Wrightslaw: All About IEPs Chapter 7 - Special Factors in IEPs

Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition

IDEA

20 U.S.C.§ 1414(d)(3)(B)(ii)

IDEA regulations

34 C.F.R. §300.324(a)(2)(ii)

Additional Resources

Identifying and Meeting a Child's Language Needs

Considering Limited English Proficiency (LEP) Checklist.
https://www.parentcenterhub.org/considering-lep/

New Definition: Limited English Proficient: IDEA 2004 Reauthorized Statute Alignment with the No Child Left Behind Act

Is an Interpreter Needed?

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