Legal Loophole in the IEP Process

We had a case that began last school year and carried forward into this school year in which a legally interesting, but damnably frustrating, situation arose that exposed a legal loophole in the special education process. There’s no way to give a short and easy descriptive name, so I just going to describe the circumstances to you and discuss the implications.

The situation involved a school district that has made a practice, thanks to the micro-managerial style of the district’s special education director, to fail to provide a finished copy of an IEP to the parents at the end of each IEP meeting. This is a district-wide policy issue, not something that only happened to our client. As a policy, the director of special education attends the IEP meetings and brings his secretary who takes the IEP meeting notes (which he refers to as “minutes”) on an AlphaSmart.

For those of you not in the know, an AlphaSmart is a portable keyboard/word processor that can be connected to a computer to print out what has been typed on it. They are often used in special education to give to students who keyboard better than they hand write to take notes in class, produce written work, etc. They’re small and portable but they don’t have all the functionality of a laptop computer. While they were cutting edge back in the day, these days, there’s nothing that says “I’m in special ed!” like taking an AlphaSmart to class, so most kids won’t have anything to do with them, leaving a surplus in the special ed department in those districts that bought them.

This school district I’m talking about – let’s call it L District – has the secretary type the IEP meeting notes as the IEP meeting is taking place, which is actually more efficient than having someone who has to also participate in the meeting doing double duty by taking the notes as well (participating and taking notes at the same time is very, very challenging and usually the quality of the person’s participation and the notes are sacrificed to a certain extent) using an AlphaSmart. The problem is that L District does not provide the means to print out the meeting notes at the end of the IEP meeting from the AlphaSmart.

Instead, the AlphaSmart is taken back to the district offices where the notes are eventually printed out days, weeks, or even months later. And, before the notes are provided to the parents, they are “reviewed” by the district’s director of special education. More to the point, they are edited by the district’s director of special education, as is the rest of the IEP. Because the notes aren’t available at the end of the IEP meeting, the whole IEP document is held up. Or, at least that’s the excuse that is given by the district. The reality is that the director of special education takes it upon himself to go through every IEP document and edit it after the IEP team has already determined what it will say. The edited document is what the parents ultimately receive days, weeks, or months later.

To make matters worse, the parents have often already signed consent to the IEPs on the signature pages that were presented to them during their IEP meetings based on what was discussed, which the special education director subsequently changes when he edits the IEPs. Because the parents were never given a copy of what they thought they were consenting to immediately following the IEP meeting, they have nothing to compare against the special ed director’s edits. On top of that, half the time, what they get is the IEP less the meeting notes, which are provided some time later. Even if they were in agreement with the parts of the IEP they got, the meeting notes are provided after they sign and their signatures are construed by the district to apply to the meeting notes, even though the notes were not available at the time they were asked to sign their consent and thus, were not actually consented to.

This isn’t clear from the record. If you request student records from this school district, what you’ll get are the whole IEPs put together well after the fact and there is no documentation to reflect that they were done piecemeal and that consent was sought to only portions of the documents though applied to the entire document once the outstanding components were actually produced. In reality, portions of the documents may not be consented-to, but you have no way of knowing that just by looking at them. Unless you have dated written correspondence from the parents that say, “Hey! When are you going to give me the IEP” and “Hey! You only gave me part of the document!” you have no way to prove the procedural violations.

More important than just the violations of the proper procedure is the impediment these procedural violations create with respect to meaningful parent participation in the IEP process, which is a right guaranteed to parents under federal law and part of the definition of what amounts to a FAPE. That’s the bigger concern for me.

There are no federal regulations that spell out how long a school district has after an IEP meeting has been held to produce the IEP document for the parents to consider and to which they can give consent. The law only requires that the IEP be implemented as soon as possible once the parents have consented to it.

Some parents know enough to not sign agreement to anything the day of the meeting and to only sign that they were in attendance. They then take a copy of the IEP home so they can go over it and think about it before signing their consent. I advise that parents do this pretty much all the time unless we’ve been through several IEP meetings and the current one is the last in a series that finally results in a clean document worth signing. At that point, the document isn’t new to us; it’s been through several revisions and we’ve finally gotten all the bugs worked out. If it is a new IEP, I definitely advise parents not to sign right then or to only indicate agreement to the no-brainer parts with which they have no problems (like eligibility, for example).

But, what happens when the district doesn’t make a copy of the IEP immediately available? Sometimes, the IEP meeting doesn’t get done until 5pm (or later) and all the printer and copier equipment has been shut down for the day and the school personnel need to get home. Sometimes a piece of equipment is broken and the document is going to have to be printed and copied at another location. These things happen. I have no problem with a district faxing or scanning/emailing me the IEP the next day or even the day after that.

What I have a problem with is waiting for over a month for the IEP document to be forthcoming while the child fails to receive the services the IEP describes and to which the parents would have consented had they been provided with the IEP more timely, particularly when those services are desperately needed and the child is suffering harm in the absence of them. Or, when the staff work off of “verbal agreement” to what they remember the IEP team discussing but without a document that explains exactly what they’re supposed to be doing such that they’re all doing what they think the IEP probably says rather than what it actually says, undermining everything with their own individual subjective interpretations of what is supposed to be going on.

There is no such thing as “verbal agreement” in special education. Nothing can be implemented without the parents’ written consent. Consent cannot be given if the parents have no IEP to sign. A FAPE is denied when the education rendered fails to comport with the IEP. If what the staff is doing is what they think is on the IEP that hasn’t been signed by the parents yet, and it isn’t identically described in the student’s previous IEP (which is the one still in force until the new one is signed), then the staff is rendering an education that fails to comport with the student’s current, in-force IEP.

A FAPE is denied on the basis of a failure to allow meaningful parent participation in the IEP process, as well, because the parents cannot meaningfully participate if they are prevented from giving consent to the new IEP. And, what if they don’t agree with the new IEP or at least parts of it. How can they express that disagreement and work with the district to see the dispute resolved if they have no document to work from.

Parents have a right to a copy of their child’s IEP. The regulations are clear on that. However, this usually is taken to mean a copy of the signed IEP after consent has been given. It doesn’t specifically state that, so that leaves some leeway to file a compliance complaint on the basis that the parents have been denied a copy of the IEP, but there is no timeline by which it has to be provided other than the general rules that apply to the general provision of copies of student records to parents upon written request. That’s usually the regulations you turn to when you want a copy of a kid’s entire file. You shouldn’t have to file a records request as a parent just to get a copy of the most recent IEP offer for your consideration and consent.

The district has an obligation to offer and render a FAPE. It can’t do that without parental consent to an appropriate IEP offer. Parental consent can’t be obtained without giving the parents the IEP to sign. It seems so logical to me, yet, procedurally, L District continues to sit on IEPs for weeks to months and provide them to parents piecemeal, construing consent to parts of the document to apply to other parts provided to the parents well after they have already signed.

Ideally, districts would have no more than two or three business days after the IEP meeting to get an IEP copy to parents for their consideration. But, we don’t have any laws that require that – at least not at the federal level. Some states may have regulations to that effect, but I’m in California – one of, if not the most regulated states on the planet – and we don’t have anything like that. Generally speaking, the other states have less stringent requirements than California, so it wouldn’t surprise me at all to learn that none of the other states have timelines specific to providing IEPs to parents for their consideration and signature following the IEP meeting. Please comment if there are such regulations that you’re aware of in your state.

I can’t fathom why a school district would want to exploit a legal loophole like this. There’s no good faith reason to take so long to get full, intact IEP copies as they were written during the IEP meetings to parents following the IEP meetings. I’m pressed to come up with a bad faith reason that makes any sense. In the instance of L District, it’s the inadvertent outcome of a controlling administrator and his deliberate use of a tool for taking the notes that prevents the immediate production of intact IEP copies at the end of the meetings to buy himself time to edit the IEP documents after the meetings have already been held without the input of the rest of the IEP team.

As it stands, the only real way to contend with this is due process, which we pursued on our client’s behalf in this district. But, the outcome we achieved only impacts this student. It’s still business as usual for every other special ed student in the district and that bothers me a lot. Were there regulations that specified a timeline for this situation, a simple compliance compliant would take care of it. Unfortunately, under the circumstances, all we have left in our tool bag for this type of situation is litigation.

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14 thoughts on “Legal Loophole in the IEP Process

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  2. Colin

    Here’s my tip: Copy the entire OSEP state team on _all_ complaint documents, from your letter of complaint to the all the information you you submit.

    Reply
  3. Colin

    Many districts are using their ARRA funds _in place_ of what they would typically spend on special ed — and then using the funds they would have earmarked for special ed on other things. So, in effect, the increase in funding provided by ARRA isn’t changing expenditures for special ed.

    As for why the district might willing to risk due process, it all depends on their insurance coverage. Some districts have insurance that covers attorney’s fees for due process; as such, it’s like hitting a deductible at which point everything beyond is merely gravy.

    I have found the best way to answer a combative district is with administrative complaints to the state dept of education. The holy troika of money spent on attorneys, findings of violations and compensatory education is unsustainable for most districts. Moreover, as the findings pile up, the state will have no choice but to threaten to freeze the district’s funding. The other cool thing about a complaint is that it’s black or white — they either broke the law or they didn’t. There’s no room for persuasive lawyering and painting the parent as a problem; rather, it’s all about whether they followed the law.

    In my experience, one you show your district that you can file a successful complaint and that it is an evergreen, ongoing tactic you can employ again and again, they will happily provide FAPE for your child because it is much easier than being compliant with 856 specific special-ed laws.

    Reply
    1. Anne M. Zachry Post author

      Colin,

      You make excellent points! That’s disappointing about how some districts are abusing ARRA money. Special ed money, whether from the usual sources or ARRA, is categorical funding that can only be lawfully spent on special ed. I heard from one parent that her district was trying to figure out a way to use the ARRA money to “reimburse” itself for past general ed expenditures on special ed. Like that wouldn’t get them in trouble!!!!

      Not all districts have insurance. In one case we had, the district belonged to a Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) that was set up as a Joint Powers Agency (JPA). The JPA served as the board of the SELPA and was made up of all the superintendents of the member school districts and the county office of ed. The district of which our client was a student was a tiny, rural K-8 district that couldn’t comply with the regulations if someone put a gun to their heads. Their attorney was taking them all for a ride, causing problems so she could bill for more of her time to argue to get them back out of the trouble she’d gotten them into in the first place.

      It turned out that it was the JPA that was responsible for the costs. In other words, all the districts and the county office that belonged to the SELPA collectively bore the costs of any litigation that took place involving any of the districts that belonged to the SELPA. So, if School District A got sued, all of the districts and the county office were financially responsible for the costs. It took money away from all the other member districts and the county office.

      In that case, we did file a compliance complaint against the district first for its breach of a previously agreed-to settlement agreement. The Calif. Dept. of Ed. found them out of compliance and ordered corrective action. The district’s lawyer responded by filing for a writ of mandate against CDE and naming our severely autistic client as a Party in Interest. The family didn’t even get notice of the court date until 4pm the day before. Thankfully, the attorney who had represented them in the negotiation of the settlement agreement that was breached was able to drop everything and rush up the following morning for the 8am court date. She and the attorney for CDE kicked some butt, but the waters got terribly muddy before the whole thing was said and done.

      In the end, we had to go to due process (the district filed against the student, if you can believe it). I paralegaled under the student’s attorney and was there for the whole thing. We called the CDE investigator as a witness as well as the attorney who had represented CDE in the Writ of Mandate case. While the district’s personnel testified that they had never intended to eliminate the terms of the original settlement agreement and thus deny a FAPE, the district had been arguing in State court that it would suffer irreparable harm if forced to comply with the settlement agreement and had, in fact, filed for due process to get the services and placement it had previously agreed to pay for eliminated.

      I’ve had mixed results with compliance complaints. It really comes down to who you get for an investigator and what kind of history that person has already had with either a particular district or a particular attorney representing a district. I had a case rather recently that just turned into a total disaster. The intake person at CDE screwed up, bifurcating my one compliant of two allegations into two separate allegations assigned to two different investigators and only gave the evidence to one of the two investigators. Apparently, it was beyond CDE’s capacity to photocopy the evidence so that both investigators had it.

      Then investigator #1 got sick, resulting in her half-investigated case being shifted over to investigator #2. Investigator #2 was totally confused by the whole thing and hadn’t even started the original investigation she’d been given because she didn’t have the evidence until half the investigation timeline had gone by.

      None of it was helped by the fact that the district’s exceedingly charming lawyer blatantly lied to both investigators in his written responses to the complaints. Investigator #2 couldn’t make sense of the district’s documents (because they were a train wreck) and the district’s lawyer’s responses just confused things further. Where we had asked that the child’s goals be re-written in a measurable manner, he responded that we were asking for the eligibility to be changed. (The allegation had been failure to follow the proper procedures when parents request that student records be changed.)

      Where we had alleged failure to implement the agreed-to portions of the IEP on the basis that a move from APE to gen ed PE had been consented-to by the parents, he asserted that the information provided to us by the District’s administrator indicating that the change in PE had never happened (as was corroborated by the student and his parents) was inaccurate and that I should have taken it upon myself to track down the student’s teacher and confirm that what her boss had told me was accurate before resorting to filing a complaint. CDE refused to reconsider its findings when we submitted additional information and evidence. In fact, we don’t even think it read what we submitted. It denied our request within 24 hours of receiving it.

      Investigator #2 found the district in compliance on both counts just to get the complaints off her desk. I didn’t know that the lawyer had lied to CDE until I got her findings and was flabbergasted at the outcomes. Rather than waste the family’s limited financial resources on filing for a Writ of Mandate against CDE, we responded with a letter to be placed in the child’s file that sets the record straight with respect to the misrepresentations made by the District’s lawyer and have recommended that if the family takes the District to due process over the resultant FAPE claims that CDE be named as a co-respondent. At this point, CDE is equally culpable for the denial of a FAPE.

      I’ve not seen any evidence that state ed agencies are willing to actually pull funding from offenders of the procedural requirements. It has to become nightmarish before they’ll even consider it, and even then I’m talking over-the-top, already way-too-far-gone situations. They don’t step in soon enough.

      Plus, you have to bear in mind as well that compliance complaints only pertain to procedural violations. In many instances, all that districts are ordered to do as corrective action is to circulate a memo. That hardly amounts to systemic change or improvement. That said, I’ve gotten some great orders for corrective action in which heads truly rolled and the offending districts were made to really clean things up. Again, I think it comes down to the investigator.

      Anne

      Reply
  4. Sandra Good

    Its sad that these districts which are suppose to help education the child are not worried about education but the tenth of the cent that they can save . The school district that i’m dealing with have lied to my face and even when there being called on it – will stick to there stories. This school district was even bold enough to tell me that due to there policy- regulations that paraprofessional could not be used on their IEP but they were willing to provide the service but when asked for a copy of this regulation policy was not able to produce it When I confronted them with the federal regulation regarding specific accommodations and related services need to be part of the IDEA they still will not back down. BOTTOMLINE…

    They do not want to provide the one on one support – due to funding.

    Very sad that parents have to go to bed and wake up worried if their child will receive special educational services if the school refused to place it in there IEP’s – with the only other option is to take them to mediation or due process which this school district i’m advise will rack up attorney fees that parents cant afford

    Reply
    1. Anne M. Zachry Post author

      Sandra,

      They have no legal authority to deny a legitimately needed service. You may have to file for due process, but there is some leg-work you’d need to do first. The first thing you need to do is get 2nd opinions regarding your child’s special education needs. I’m presuming the District’s most recent assessments don’t suggest that your child needs an aide. Therefore, you need to disagree with the District’s most recent assessments – do this in WRITING – and ask for Independent Educational Evaluations (“IEEs”) and public expense. The only way the District can turn you down is to take you to due process to show that its assessments were appropriate. If you can show the holes in what they’ve done – unanswered questions, needs that continue to go unaddressed for which there is no assessment data, etc. – then you should be granted the IEEs. Once you have the assessment data back from the IEEs, then you can argue for whatever goals and services the IEEs recommend.

      Bottom line is that you need expert recommendations to go up against the District’s recommendations. Common sense on the part of parents carries little to no weight in due process. The right thing for school districts to do when parents raise concerns about the possible need for a particular service is to assess to determine if such a support is needed. However, what sometimes happens is that the District’s assessors skew their data and misrepresent their outcomes to fall in line with the District’s pre-existing intent to deny the service, in which case parents are left having to disagree and ask for IEEs.

      What I find curious these days is that with the shot in the arm that most school districts are getting from ARRA for special education, and the budget cuts to general ed that most are experiencing, why in the world would they fight a parent over special ed costs? For the first time in, like, FOREVER, schools generally have more money for special ed than they have for litigation costs, particularly if the parents are right and would prevail in hearing. If the parents win, the districts have to pay not only their own legal fees for due process but also those of the parents. Providing an aide would cost a heck of a lot less than getting sued over the whole situation.

      Anne

      Reply
  5. Colin

    The DOE was very interested in pursuing this: During an 11-minute conversation with them, they suggested providing me a complaint form three times.

    Regarding the “offer of FAPE” citations written atop IEPs, I think this is yet another opportunity to look at informed consent and what it means in IDEA. At its heart, informed consent is a protection against parents being misled or deceived into signing something. So, when I’m being lied to at a meeting, I always like to restate their position and then say, “I just want to make sure I’m understanding your position because under IDEA I have to provide informed consent; I have to understand it exactly and that means my consent will be voided if I later find out that the information presented was wrong or that I was misled or lied to.” You’d be surprised how positions change with that comment.

    Reply
    1. Anne M. Zachry Post author

      Colin,

      Re: So, when I’m being lied to at a meeting, I always like to restate their position and then say, “I just want to make sure I’m understanding your position because under IDEA I have to provide informed consent; I have to understand it exactly and that means my consent will be voided if I later find out that the information presented was wrong or that I was misled or lied to.” You’d be surprised how positions change with that comment.

      Absolutely brilliant!!!!! Thank you for providing this input!!!

      As for the DOE recommendation that you file a complaint, I say “Go for it!” This misbehavior probably isn’t going to stop until the District is met with a consequence for having engaged in it and given an order for corrective actions from the DOE. The DOE would then provide oversight and technical assistance to ensure that the District complies.

      Anne

      Reply
  6. Colin

    I have recently relocated to another state, where, as a practice, they don’t provide you with a copy of the IEP at the end of the meeting. This is in stark contrast to my previous state, where we would write in edits by hand and initial each and every page of the document.

    What’s worse, in this new state, the signature page for the IEP is a separate document that is combined with prior written notice — as opposed to the back page of the IEP itself. My new district has adopted the policy of sending me the signature page/prior written notice without having first provided a copy of the finished IEP. I called my state department of education and asked, “How can I provide informed consent if I’m not being provided a copy of the IEP?”

    At the end of the day, informed consent is probably the best IDEA-based argument to make against policies like these. In fact, it’s a great question to ask of any district and or its legal counsel: How can you procure informed consent from me if the facts are in question?

    Reply
    1. Anne M. Zachry Post author

      Colin,

      Yours is a spectacularly well made point. I think the best way to deal with this until the policies are changed is to provide the district with written notice of your own. On the signature page of the IEP, indicate that your consent is withheld until you receive a full copy of the IEP and that your signature merely indicates that you attended the IEP meeting. I’d also write a separate letter to the district’s director of special education with each IEP document that is handled by the district this way, each time informing the sped dir in writing that the district has failed to permit you to give informed consent and, therefore, your consent will be withheld pending your review of the proposed IEP. I’d also add language that expresses your disappointment that the district has chosen to conduct itself in a manner that denies you the opportunity to meaningfully participate in the IEP process.

      It’s useful to keep in mind that the IEP document provided to you by the district is it’s offer. It’s supposed to be an offer of FAPE, and I’ve found in the last couple of years that a lot of school districts will go so far as to write language in the IEP meeting notes that mirrors the offer of services and placement found elsewhere in the document, heading the repeated information as “Offer of FAPE” knowing that most parents have no idea what that means.

      The legal strategy behind this on the part of the districts that do this is to have the parents consent to the IEP, including language that describes the contents of the IEP as a FAPE, so that if the parents later come back and assert that the IEP is no good and failed to offer a FAPE, the district’s lawyer will throw it back in their faces that the signed the IEP and agreed at the time of signing that the offer was an offer of FAPE. During the IEP meeting, when parents ask, “What does ‘Offer of FAPE’ mean?” the district personnel will say, “Oh, that’s just what we have to call it.” Most parents don’t understand the legal significance of calling the IEP offer an “Offer of FAPE” and that by consenting to that language they’re agreeing that the IEP is appropriate to their children’s needs.

      The bigger point is that just because the IEP has been offered, the parents aren’t obligated to accept it. Parents have the right to dispute the appropriateness of the offer, asserting that it fails to offer a FAPE, and demand a more appropriate IEP for their child. If parents are signing consent to a document they’ve not seen, they have no way of knowing if the district’s offer is truly an offer of FAPE. And, as you stated, their consent is absolutely not informed.

      The issue you’ve raised really goes to the issue of meaningful parent participation. We just updated our “Meaningful Parent Participation” slogan merchandise earlier today, oddly enough, and our posting about that includes the relevant legal citations pertaining to parent participation in the IEP process, including a link to another blogger’s article that cites a number of precedent-setting cases that make more clear what “meaningful parent participation” really is. Click here to link over to that article to access the legal authorities.

      You can’t meaningfully participate if your being given the signature page to a document you’ve not seen or read and are denied the opportunity to give informed consent. I’m curious to know what your state dept of ed had to say when you called. Did they back you up, did they back up the district, or did they plead ignorance?

      Anne

      Reply
  7. Anne M. Zachry Post author

    Jeff,

    Thanks for your awesome feedback! I have to concede that “L District’s” practices are the exception rather than the norm and under most circumstances I think your suggested strategies make total sense.

    With L District, we did audio record all the IEP meetings. That was how we were able to argue against the SpEd Dir’s edits. Ultimately, the District settled rather than go to hearing but even the local Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) director and the District’s lawyer were mad at the District’s SpEd Dir by the time the mediation was finished because he wouldn’t agree to a District-wide policy change; he only agreed to a deviation from his standard practices for our client’s parents as a condition of settlement.

    I really like the idea of writing on the meeting notice that the parents understand that they will receive a copy of the IEP document upon the conclusion of the IEP meeting. If the District doesn’t contest that understanding in writing and then fails to provide the IEP document in a timely manner, the parents could file a compliance complaint. I think it’s definitely worth a shot!

    I think what’s important for parents to get out of this is that they need to make sure they have the whole document before signing consent or include a statement on the IEP next to their signatures that says that their consent, to the degree that it is given, is limited to the pages provided and identify what those pages are. I usually include a copy of the IEP document we were given as an attachment to the letter to illustrate exactly what we were given.

    We do this with IEPs that have been given to us in which the pages weren’t numbered. Usually IEPs are numbered “x of y” pages so that we know what page number we are on and how many total pages there are. When page numbers are not provided, it always leaves the door open for additional pages to magically appear later (which I’ve seen happen), creating a big mess over what was consented to and what was not.

    Whenever our clients receive IEPs with which, following review, they do not entirely consent, rather than calling new IEP meetings over and over (which school districts will abuse to stall and deliberately run up the advocate’s billing in the hopes the parents can’t afford continued representation), we will respond in writing to the IEP offer and attempt to work out the differences via document exchange until we arrive at a document that can be agreed to on the whole. Usually, the parents end up consenting to parts of it in the beginning, and then incrementally agree to revisions as they come in and contain at least portions worth consenting to.

    It usually doesn’t take more than one or two revisions to get the IEP where it needs to be. Other than preventing the District from abusing the IEP process to stall, we also have to be considerate of the fact that most parents’ employers start to get peeved somewhere around the second call-back IEP meeting if they weren’t already peeved about the parents taking time off to participate in the IEP process at all.

    We try to minimize the number of meetings just because we know too many parents who have lost their jobs over stuff like this. Other times, the parents will send us in on their behalf as their designated representatives and then we go over the documents with them after the fact. If the parents have the time, though, they can certainly hold repeated IEP meetings until the whole thing is resolved. I prefer methods that involve the record being made, so if they go the route of repeated IEP meetings, I strongly recommend that they audio record every IEP meeting they attend, at least until the current IEP is worked out.

    Anne

    Reply
  8. Jeff Konrade-Helm

    This is a similar problem in Colorado. I doubt most districts who get IEPs to parents late are actually wanting to exercise such revisionist history of what was agreed to at the IEP meeting but I’m sure there are some.

    For me, the bottom line is that parents needs to be diligent about getting their copy of the IEP and if it is not what they thought they agreed to, they can call for another meeting …. and another … and another until they get it right.

    Many of my clients want to audio record meetings for this or similar reasons. I generally don’t but this is a good reason for such a practice.

    Also, one could do the some of the following:

    Notice of meeting: when replying to the notice of meeting, parents can make a statement that it is their understanding that they will have a copy of the IEP upon the conclusion of the meeting. If it doesn’t happen, you have another procedural complaint item.

    IEP Meeting: Ask to include under the section where they check mark that parents have received their notice of procedural safeguards and rights, they can include a statement of agreement as to when the IEP will be presented to the parents for review and that they don’t want the new IEP implemented until such date.

    Also, parents can refuse to sign the attendance sheet until the end of the meeting — which is really when “participation” can best be determined anyway. Of course, I’ve seen parents refuse to sign attendance documents and staff just wrote they were present but refused to sign.

    I come back to my original statement. Most people wouldn’t buy a car or a house without ensuring they’ve been presented with and availed themselves of every possible right, protection, safeguard, etc. — sometimes that means taking a lawyer or advocate.

    Reply

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