With all due respect (emphasis mine) …
- The school district shall “take steps to ensure that one or both parents … are present at each IEP Team meeting or are afforded the opportunity to participate …” (34 CFR 300.322(a))
- Thou shalt receive an IEP meeting notice “early enough to ensure that [you] will have an opportunity to attend …” (34 CFR 300.322(a)(1))
- Said meeting shall be scheduled “at a mutually agreed on time and place.” (34 CFR 300.322(a)(2))
- Said meeting notice must “Indicate the purpose, time and location of the meeting and who will be in attendance …” (34 CFR 300.322(b)(1)(i))
- The district shall not have anyone in attendance who is not on the meeting notice. There shall be no surprises allowed. (OSEP Policy Letter, Feb. 2016)
- The family may bring, unannounced, any individual with knowledge or special expertise regarding the student. (ibid.)
- “If neither parent can attend an IEP Team meeting, the [district] must use other methods to ensure parent participation, including individual or conference telephone calls, …” (34 CFR 300.322(c))
- “A meeting may be conducted without a parent in attendance if the [district] is unable to convince the parents that they should attend. In this case, the [district] must keep a record of its attempts to arrange a mutually agreed on time and place, such as –
- Detailed records of telephone calls made or attempted and the results of those calls;
- Copies of correspondence sent to the parents and any responses received; and
- Detailed records of visits made to the parent’s home or place of employment and the results of those visits.” (34 CFR 300.322(d))
- The district shall “ensure that the IEP Team includes …
- The parents
- Not less than one regular education teacher of the child (if the child is, or may be, participating in the education)
- Not less than one special education teacher / special education provider
- A knowledgeable representative of the district
- Whenever appropriate, the student (34 CFR 300.321(a))
- “A member of the IEP Team … is not required to attend an IEP Team meeting, in whole or in part, if the parent … and the district agree, in writing, that the attendance of the member is not necessary because the member’s area of the curriculum or related services is not being modified or discussed in the meeting.” (34 CFR 300.321(e)(1))
- In MA, if the district provides the family with a summary at the end of the IEP Team meeting, and said summary has a complete proposed IEP service delivery grid and a statement of the major goal areas associated with these services, then the district has no more than two calendar weeks to deliver two copies of the proposed IEP to the parents.
- The parents may request (do it in writing!) the proposed IEP sooner, and the district must respond to said request and deliver two copies of the complete proposed IEP within 3-5 calendar days of the Team meeting to the parents.
- If no appropriate summary is given, the district must deliver two copies of the complete proposed IEP within 3-5 calendar days of the Team meeting. (DESE Memo)
This is a PARTIAL list of the laws surrounding the IEP Team meeting. Neither the parent nor the district may pick-and-choose, all the regulations must be followed.
A client of mine recently went into an IEP meeting and there were two unknown (to her) people at the table. She asked the first who she was and the response was “I am a guidance counselor, I am here to talk about … I can leave if you like.” The parent asked her to stay. The woman’s presence was wrong (illegal actually, since she was not on the meeting notice) but it was in the best interest of the student to have her stay. The parent then asked the other person who he was. He offered “I am from central administration, here to observe and I will be staying.” Needless to say, that response was inappropriate, contrary to the regulations, and instantly created a contentious meeting. (If you don’t believe it was wrong, ask the PQA, I did!) The parent then had the option to leave and reschedule or to continue. It is always best to prepare for an IEP meeting and have in mind who will be attending. You may prepare differently if district administration will be present, or a lawyer, etc.
You have rights. Use them.
The district will sure use theirs …
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