One of my biggest frustrations with the IEP process is the amount of time it seems to take. I have children I refer in October for testing that haven't even begun the evaluation process in March. It's unfair to my students, but perhaps more importantly it's illegal in many ways. Here are some of the important timelines I've found in regards to IEPs.
* the IEP process begins when either the school or a parent requests an evaluation
* parents are then asked to consent to an evaluation
* after 60 days, from when consent has been given, an evaluation must be completed
* when the evaluation has been completed, and the chid is found to be eligible for special education, an IEP meeting must be held within 30 days
* at least 10 days before the IEP meeting parents must be informed of the meeting
* after the IEP meeting there is a 10 day transition period in which the IEP can be adapted as requested by the parents
* 1 year after an IEP meeting another IEP meeting must be held, to review the IEP and make necessary changes
* 3 years after eligibility evaluation is done, the student must be reevaluated again (a parent may also ask to have their child reevaluated any time in those 3 years, but should not exceed more than once a year)
When I was researching these timelines the interesting thing that kept coming up was the power of the state in determining several of these guidelines, in particular the 60 day guideline between consent and evaluation. The way the law is written states can adapt their own guidelines. Some states have thus adapted shorter timelines and others have longer timelines. In Florida the timeline is 60 school days! That can be about a third of the school year before a child is evaluated, let alone an IEP is written. It's important to look at specific state guidelines when you are trying to figure out a timeline.