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Adding Parent Input to the IEP – Here’s How!

by Wrightslaw

Last week we posted about using an IEP Parent Attachment to add input to your child’s IEP.

We heard immediately from Daunna who wrote:

The question was “How can I deal with [the school’s refusal to include a parent attachment]?”
Judy Bonnell’s parent attachment form is a great idea, but it’s not really an attachment unless the school includes it in the IEP.

So what IS the strategy for getting the school to include your attachment as part of the IEP?

1. Review the Findings and Purposes of IDEA 2004

20 U.S.C. 1400 (c) (5) and (d)

Congress found that the education of children with disabilities can be made more effective by “strengthening the role and responsibility of parents and ensuring that families of such children have meaningful opportunities to participate in the education of their children at school and at home;”

The purpose of passing IDEA was to ” to ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living; ” and “to ensure that the rights of children with disabilities and parents of such children are protected;…”

Check page 46678 in the Commentary to the federal regulations (2006). It states that certain “…provisions are important to encourage parent participation in the IEP process, which is an important safeguard for ensuring FAPE under the Act.”

And, on the same page, “Parents are free to provide input into their child’s IEP through a written report if they so choose.”

2. Get a Copy of your State Special Education Regulations. What do your state special ed regs say about IEPs and your role as the child’s parent?

3. Write a Short Businesslike Letter

After you know what the law says, write a short businesslike letter to the director of special ed and /or superintendent.

Briefly describe your attempt(s) to participate in your child’s IEP, that you thought you were a member of your child’s IEP team, that you asked to have your input included as an attachment to the IEP, but that INSERT PERSONS NAME advised you that “school policy” does not allow you to provide input.

You are confused. This school policy is not consistent with anything you’ve read about IEPs and your role as the child’s parent. Perhaps there has been a misunderstanding.

Request (very politely) that the district provide you with their written policy that prevents you from adding a parent attachment to your child’s IEP. To save time, you’ll be happy to come to the school to pick this information up.

Try to keep your letter to one page. The tone should be polite and businesslike. You want to give school officials a way to change their position without losing face or admitting fault.

Hand-deliver the letter (don’t send it by mail or certified). When you deliver your letter, make a note about who you gave it to, what the person said, what the person was wearing, anything else that happened at the time you delivered the letter. (It’s quite possible that the school may lose your letter so this detailed information shows that you did deliver it.)

As Congress wanted to strengthen the role of parents and ensure that families “have meaningful opportunities to participate in the education of their children”, any district policy about barring parent IEP attachments is not consistent with the spirit or the letter of the law.

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22 Comments on "Adding Parent Input to the IEP – Here’s How!"


As a school and team, how do you deal with a parent who wants to write a 10 page letter that discusses many different things including what she does outside of school, that she likes Laura Ingalls, and other irrelevant to education input? Also including a report in her letter of an outside evaluation report, which the team had already discussed and reported in the IEP that they discussed the report its available for people to view and that they would be using the data from the school’s evaluation?

I see a lot of parents asking if they can add input but our thought is input needs to educationally relevant… what should we do in that aspect to handle this disagreement?


I feel for Melissa. I have a suggestion for you. Write down all of your requests and go into the meeting well organized. Prior to attending the IEP meeting, send a business like letter requesting permission to tape the meeting. If your district denies the request, send another letter asking the school to provide you with a written policy showing you that you can’t tape this meeting. Typically in my district, if I tape the meeting the school district does too. And they are within their right to do so. Good luck.


So you play nice, and the school/district still doesn’t add the letter. Now what?


Marsha, What state do you live in? What was the name of the group at your state ed department that did the audit you requested. I want such an opportunity but have been told by my state ed dept that they do not do such things. (My location is in the northeast (I don’t want to share what state just in case because I fear retribution from the LEA. It has been a very adversarial experience for me. It’s been independently noted that they are failing SWDs but because our school district is so small and the number of SWDs doesn’t reach a specific target/magical number, they are not showing up as a school in need of improvement.) But if you could share what group in your state ed agency actually would do an audit if requested, maybe i could use this to prove it is being done in another state, as well as why it is needed. Thank you!


Do you have materials, books, documentation for special education teachers & those in related services such as speech/language. I would certainly appreciate it. Especially for those of us in speech/language services. How much of what you say applies to related services. Thank you Joanna