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How Can I Get My Child's IEP Changed?

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"My child isn’t making progress under the current IEP. I asked that we convene an IEP meeting to revise the IEP. Because I signed the IEP earlier, I was told that I can't ask that the IEP be changed now. Is this true?"

Wrightslaw answers:

No. Children’s needs change as they grow. You wouldn't expect a child to wear the same size shoe for a year! An IEP is not cast in stone, but is a dynamic document that should be revised when necessary.

You can request an IEP meeting at any time. You can ask that the IEP be changed at any time. The fact that you consented to the IEP doesn’t mean you’re stuck with it. 

If you are a long-time subscriber to The Special Ed Advocate, you know we advise parents to learn about their rights and responsibilities. You know we also advise parents to use Tactics & Strategies when they make requests. Sometimes, this is more difficult! We’ll get to that in a minute. 

Learn About Rights & Responsibilities 

Don't rely on school people to tell you about the law. Often, the school staff's knowledge of the law is limited to what they heard in an in-service training session or by "word of mouth." Few school people have read the law. As the parent of a child with a disability, you need to know what the law really says. You need to know how to find answers to your questions in the IDEA statute and regulations. 

Parents of kids with disabilities, teachers, and other special education service providers should have a copy of the IDEA statute, special education regulations, and Appendix A. You can download most of these documents from the Wrightslaw site. Here are the links:

For an overview of the IDEA statute (with commentary by Pete), go to 

http://www.wrightslaw.com/law/code_regs/20USC1400MyOverview.html

Download Section 1414 of the IDEA about evaluations, eligibility, IEPs, and placement, including commentary by Pete, at:

http://www.wrightslaw.com/law/code_regs/20USC1414.html

Go to the IDEA Regulations Table of Contents” that includes links to sections of the federal IDEA regulations at: 

http://www.wrightslaw.com/law/code_regs/Index_IDEA_Regs_990313.htm

"Subpart C" of the Regulations includes IEPs, evaluations and reevaluations, and FAPE. You can download this information at:

http://www.wrightslaw.com/law/code_regs/IDEARegs_PartC.htm

Read Appendix A!

Appendix A is an invaluable tool for parents who are trying to develop a healthy working relationship with their child's school. Appendix A includes information about IEP requirements, IEP teams and meetings, the parental role, transition, and other important issues. Download Appendix A, or go to:

http://www.wrightslaw.com/law/code_regs/IDEARegs_AppendixA.htm

You'll find answers to your questions in Appendix A. You say that the school’s position is that since you signed the IEP, you're stuck with it. Not so. Here's what Question 20 in Appendix A says about parent requests to revise their child's IEP. 

Question 20. How frequently must a public agency conduct meetings to review, and, if appropriate, revise the IEP for each child with a disability? 

“A public agency must initiate and conduct meetings periodically, but at least once every twelve months, to review each child's IEP, in order to determine whether the annual goals for the child are being achieved, and to revise the IEP, as appropriate, to address: (a) Any lack of expected progress toward the annual goals and in the general curriculum, if appropriate; (b) the results of any reevaluation; (c) information about the child provided to, or by, the parents; (d) the child's anticipated needs; or (e) other matters (Sec. 300.343(c)).” 

“ . . . the parents of a child with a disability have the right to request an IEP meeting at any time. For example, if the parents believe that the child is not progressing satisfactorily or that there is a problem with the child's current IEP, it would be appropriate for the parents to request an IEP meeting."

“ . . . there should be as many meetings a year as any one child may need (121 Cong. Rec. S20428-29 (Nov. 19, 1975) . . . agencies should grant any reasonable parent request for an IEP meeting.”

NOTE FROM WRIGHTSLAW: You can get all these legal references in one book in Wrightslaw: Special Education Law

Learn How to Use Tactics & Strategy 

Your goal is to get the services your child needs. When you use tactics & strategies, it's more likely that you will succeed

What are Tactics and Strategies? T & S include knowing how to organize your child’s file, maintain a contact log, write effective follow-up letters, write a “Letter to the Stranger,” handle meetings – and how NOT to shoot yourself in the foot!

Here’s one more thing to consider. In most of Pete's consultations, the questions being asked are not the most important questions that need to be answered. Often, no one is asking the important questions! For example, a parent wants to force the school to provide modifications and/or accommodations when the real issue is that the child doesn’t know how to read, write, spell, or do arithmetic. 

You can learn about Tactics and Strategy by reading dozens of articles, letters and newsletters on the Wrightslaw site. A more efficient strategy may be to order our Tactics and Strategy Manual. (You can even download the Manual as an e-book!) 

Learn more about the Tactics Manual -- and download a free chapter -- at 

http://www.wrightslaw.com/bkstore/ourbooks/Tactics_Manual.html

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Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition, by Pam and Pete Wright
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Wrightslaw: All About IEPs
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Wrightslaw: All About Tests and Assessments
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Surviving Due Process: Stephen Jeffers v. School Board
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