What is an ARD Committee?

An ARD Committee is an educational group that makes important plans and decisions for select students. The ARD Committee, or Admission, Review and Dismissal Committee, often creates Individual Education Plans (IEPs) for students with special education needs.

Legal Background

The goal of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is to implement improved and effective special education processes. The purpose of the IDEA is to ensure that student-children with disabilities receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE). In order to achieve this, these students must receive a special education with related services designed to meet their unique needs. Special education programs prepare students for future education, employment and independent living opportunities.

Individual Education Plans support students’ special education services so they can make specific progress towards academic, behavioral and functional goals. These related services include services like occupational, physical, counseling and speech-language therapies. The IDEA Act empowers parents to participate at every stage of the special education process. Schools are required to give parents a copy of official documents during certain events or stages in the special education process.

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Common Questions and Answers

ARD committee meetings are necessary for initial program placement and at any time teachers or parents feel a change is needed. While IEPs must be reviewed annually, ARD committee meeting may be held many times during the year. Written notice is required for ARD committee meeting attendance, so parents generally receive these notices one week before the scheduled date. Schools can only omit sending the written notice if there is a substantiated emergency.

Parents are strongly encouraged to attend the ARD committee meetings and be actively involved in their child’s special education progress. If they have inflexible work schedules or other important commitments, they usually give permission to the school to proceed without them. The school in turn will most likely have a representative provide a courtesy phone call with a summary of the meeting to the parents.

ARD Committee Attendance

The IDEA Act requires certain individuals to be present during the meetings. These include representatives from the local school district’s administration group, who is someone designated and authorized to designate resources to implement the student’s IEP. This is usually the principal, assistant principal or school counselor. There is usually a general instruction teacher or a special education teacher present. If there are no parents, the student’s guardian or designated representative, such as a social worker or community program leader, may be present. Some school districts have special education assessment teams who attend the committee meetings.

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Depending on the student’s needs, the ARD committee meeting may require a specific type of professional to attend. This is usually for students with specific disabilities. This could include a deaf education professional for students with auditory impairments and ESL vocational instructors for high school students who have recently emigrated from a foreign country. In order to be allowed to attend the meeting, the participants should have some knowledge of the child being discussed.

An ARD committee meeting for minor IEP changes may be omitted if educators, external professionals and parents actively communicate and share information through email or phone contact.