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IEP FAQs: Can Parents Demand a Member of the IEP Team be Excluded?

02/27/09
by Pam Wright

A Guidance Counselor ignored our parental consent form and conducted some tests on our daughter against our written instructions, even though she also signed the form acknowledging our concern. Our parental control was totally ignored.

This guidance counselor is listed as an IEP Team member, but my wife and I can not trust her anymore. Can we demand she be excluded from the IEP Team?

You can demand, but if you do, you set yourself up for a big fall – and you are likely to be labeled as unstable. Parents need to request the services their children need and attempt to keep things unemotional and businesslike.

When parents demand, they ensure that the school will fight forever to keep from giving in to parental demands.

Your goal is to:

  • get what your child needs as painlessly as possible and
  • protect parent-school relationships.

In some circumstances, this requires a great deal of self discipline – more than some people possess. At that point, you need to get assistance from an educational advocate or advice from an attorney who specializes in this area of law.

IEP team members tend to play different roles- the pitbull and bully, the know it all, the conflict-avoider, wet blankets, snipers, etc. We discuss “dealing with difficult people” in our book From Emotions to Advocacy. These dynamics play out in most organizations.

Document Problems

Parental demeanor needs to be a blend of Miss Manners (polite) and Peter Columbo (“I’m confused. Can you help me understand why you can’t do X,Y, Z to help my child?”). Parents also need to document problems and their attempts to resolve problems in polite letters that will become part of the child’s file that can be used later, if necessary. Be sure to keep a copy for your own records.

If you learn that you cannot trust someone – that’s important information to have. To paraphrase Sun-tzu, “Keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer.”

Write a Polite Letter

You may want to write a short polite letter expressing your concern and distress when you learned that the guidance counselor ignored your wishes, as expressed in writing on the parental consent form, and tested your child after you made it clear that you did not want these tests performed. These actions are more concerning because the guidance counselor signed the form acknowledging your wishes. You were under the impression that the school wanted to work cooperatively with parents, not make unilateral decisions against the parent’s expressed wishes provided in writing, that you are requesting their assurances that school personnel will never do this again. (Note: They will not do this because to do so would be to acknowledge that they did something wrong. You are just making your point.)

If you did this, you would have to do some research to decide who to send the letter to – who has power in your school district – principal, superintendent, school board member. The letter may elicit a reprimand that you will never know about. The letter will probably remain in the guidance counselor’s file forever and may make him/her more cautious in the future.

You’ve just learned an important lesson – that many school people think they know what’s best for all children and that parents can and should be ignored because they are overly emotional, ignorant, etc.

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20 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Nora 09/29/14 at 11:24 am

    My daughters OT called and said OT was gonna stop services. In short she should would never write her name, why teach her to type her name, she would never be able to type a sentence, why continue zippers buttons and shoe tying. Lets just make her more independent and use elastic pants Velcro shoes. Her IEP meeting is coming up. I have already informed central office and am waiting on a new IEP date because OT was not gonna attend. I don’t really want this OT working with my 11 yr old because she has given up on her. The OT has only worked with her once or twice. Any suggestions welcome on how to handle this would be appreciated. Last years eval from her elem. School said she was making progress in writing her letters. She is unable to read, write, doesn’t know her abc or numbers. She has DS, verbal apraxia, ADHD, SID. pls help.

  • 2 Joe/Debbi 05/24/14 at 9:23 am

    We have been told at our recent IEP meeting that we cannot discuss keeping our Grandson Specialist 3 aid that has been assigned with him for the last 5 years because this is a staffing issue.We have taken the position it is a behavioral issue an she cannot move with him to High School from his promotion from middle school.She the aid has said she is willing to be with him where ever he goes.We are now seeking help from pilot parents here in Tucson an are thinking of mediation. Question is this a staffing problem?Help

  • 3 Jesse 05/07/14 at 8:41 am

    So.. for better for worse, I just did this. One of the county representatives has been a bully in our IEP. She is disrespectful and condescending. Before an IEP meeting yesterday, I told her we no longer wanted her at either of my daughters’ IEP meetings. The school then cancelled the IEP meeting to await direction from the Director of Special Education.
    After reading this article, I fear I have overstepped. My wife and I are always respectful of others in these meetings and expect the same. As such, we don’t want this lady involved. So, the “die is cast”. What should I do now? Should I try to mend fences and figure out how make peace with her? I certainly don’t want the district to label us as uncooperative (too late?). It might be worth stating that the individual was not on the official invite form, but showed up anyway

  • 4 Julia 04/15/14 at 11:16 pm

    re: But remember, if we as parents have the right to bring anyone we choose into meetings, so does the school. This is how it must be..

    No, this is not the case and certainly is not how it “must be”, as evidenced by the role of contracted service providers who may only attend that part of a meeting that directly pertains to the service they provide. This respects the student’s privacy.

  • 5 Faith 10/25/12 at 12:00 pm

    Very valuable information for parent’s to consider!

  • 6 Vicki 03/01/12 at 2:44 am

    Loved reading the good news Barbara 10 had. Unfortunately we have found ourselves advocating for our son to the point of ignorance. Not finding it beneficial here in this district. The neglect here has harmed our child more than helped him. And most recently some of the the team altered what parent said in the deliberations, putting in what wasn’t said and removing much of what was said. The schools actions are criminal it has been explained to me. Sometimes you have to do what you can to save the whole family and keep your child safe. As all of you know the stresses can be harmful to a marriage and family. My child came here with an appropriate IEP and 1 1/2 years later this school is still not performing to recommendations. Don’t give up but chose your battles wisely. Your children are the most important.

  • 7 Dawn 02/29/12 at 10:38 am

    Our son was given a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) in 3rd grade by the school LEA.After dealing w/his teacher for 2yrs.& doing research;I learned that a BIP should not be put into place prior to a Functional Behavior Assessment(FBA).So I sent a letter to the School Superintendent requesting that a FBA take place with a behavior group outside of the school due to the negligence of the LEA.A FBA took place within 2 months of my letter.The FBA showed that the classroom needed restructured & the teacher needed more training.But yet by the end of the year the school changed his eligibility to EBD.This was even after what the FBA showed.The teacher had gone back to her old ways & the school was trying to protect her.I fought & got the EBD removed & teacher was relocated.

  • 8 Lisa 02/29/12 at 4:59 am

    Pam, can you please reply as to the answer if parents can request, for an iep team member to be removed, for ex the principal and what that process would look like. I could not find info or answer aside from consulting with attorney or advocate.

  • 9 philip 02/28/12 at 9:54 am

    Generally this is true. However, I was advocating with a parent who”s child was in a school where the grandmother was the principal. The parents were divorced but attend the meeting together and both represent their child’s interest. The arrangement caused strain since the principal did not always attend meeting except theirs. This conflict of interest was of concern to the parents. I asked them to write a professional letter to the Director of Special Education and politely list their concern and desire to not have her in attendance. The school complied with no direct problems ever noted. The meeting was professional in its demeanor and the I EP team was very professional.

  • 10 Carolyn 12/08/11 at 9:42 am

    Hi, my child’s support team won’t reply to anything I send them. I am respectful and I don’t demand anything. This team is rude, nasty and even stated they won’t work with any parent. Their word is LAW! I am seeking a lawyer now. I just don’t get what is going on. If we sat and agreed on a IEP and now they won’t respect it and move forward with helping my child. I don’t get it!

  • 11 Barbara 04/01/09 at 4:00 pm

    Pam’s comment “When parents demand, they ensure that the school will fight forever to keep from giving in to parental demands.” was right on target for our district.

    My husband and I always tried to get along with the people at school as our child had to go there day after day, and we knew teachers and aides would take their anger at us out on him. Sometimes this tack meant he didn’t get what he needed at the time, but when the team determined our child could best be served by a placement in a residential setting, they gave us carte blanche on the choice.

    Our child now attends one of the best private developmental disability schools in the country, the district pays for it, and everybody is happy, especially our child. Our assistant superintendent told us they were willing to do this for us because we were so easy to work with.

  • 12 Becca 03/29/09 at 3:02 pm

    PLACEMENT
    Is there a law stating that a child with an IEP can not attend a school that is not their home school, if the home school offers a program for the child?
    The school that is in our district but not our home school would be a better placement for our child. I am wanting to make sure that I can legally request that my child attend this school.

  • 13 Kathleen 03/27/09 at 4:54 pm

    I am a school nurse. I may not always be right but when I suggest such things as a behavioral evaluation or better communication with physicians, it is always with the very best interest in the child in mind. You would not believe the verbal abuse that has been directed at staff for simply making a suggestion. Contrary to what others may sometimes think most education professionals really love children and want to be of some help to them. We may sometimes be wrong but it is the willingness to listen with mutual respect that is most helpful in problem solving.

  • 14 Denise 03/23/09 at 10:06 am

    What if I they gave me 1 week IEP mtg notification and I can’t meet on that date. I request a variance to move annual meet date but denied due to District guidelines. What are my parental rights as it relates to when we meet for my son’s IEP?

  • 15 Donna 03/16/09 at 8:22 pm

    My son is eligible for ESY,. he is in a self contained saying it will satisfy his academic needs. He has always went full days when in private school can they limit amount hours in ESY ?

  • 16 Patrice 03/12/09 at 3:22 pm

    I received a call from the school Psychologist she sated that, she wanted to test my son for emotional disturbance. I said that I wanted to keep his placement as learning disabilities as it is in his file. She then stated that the school does not have the capability to keep a child like my son and that he will have to be home schooled. Just after the conversation we had a meeting at the school and I signed a release to have a basc 2 done for my son. However, the special ed director was at he meeting and said that if I did not have the basc2 done, he would file for a due process hearing. Is that legal?

    Also, My child is always sent home with his IEP request and, it is put in his back pack Is that legal for the teacher to send the notice home with child OR should they mail it certified mail?

    Thank you.

  • 17 Concerned mom 03/11/09 at 3:54 pm

    This information was helpful, but I’m concerned about the comments included such as, “They will not do this because to do so would be to acknowledge that they did something wrong.” And, “When parents demand, they ensure that the school will fight forever to keep from giving in to parental demands.” While it’s certainly true that a lot of conflict can rise from IEPs and dealing with schools and paraprofessionals, and I have absolutely dealt with people on various IEP teams I don’t want to see again, I feel that walking in with an attitude of “they won’t listen” or “they won’t help me” or “they will not give me what I’m asking for” simply sets everyone up on edge and doesn’t in the end prove productive. Instead, I try to walk in with the aura and feeling of, “What I am asking for is within my rights, my child’s rights, and is reasonable.”

  • 18 Pat 03/09/09 at 6:24 pm

    I am having a issue with a new paraeducator for my daughter. Since she has started my daughter has regressed in behaviors and is now telling me she does not want to go to school. When she comes home she is also acting out as well. I called the head of special education and voiced my concern that she might not be the right fit. The previous one was great never had a any issues in fact at the last IEP meeting we thought of removng the need for a paraeducator in the class. The members talked me into keeping it in just in case I would move. The head of spec education did not feel that this paraeducator was a danger to and her and could not be removed because it would mean being fired and there is not enough cause to fire her. I would appreciate any help.

  • 19 Patricia 03/01/09 at 5:30 pm

    I am disabled and I have not been able to serve as a no fee alternative effectively for my sons needs for an advocate.
    Recently I again called the one attorney here who does do ed law and the barrier is the legal fee costs.
    Also I met with a service that does provide the iep services that families turn to as the local schools do not provide these. They have had three years to develop staff and a plan to provide what is needed, and do nothing, not even as was in the iep.
    I am having his first eval since grade 5 in grade 11.
    Is there help for paying the costs of a legal ed attorney to be found anywhere? this is a child who has areas that fall in the gifted area(do not offer at school) and problems with writing that the doe just does not recognize although these impact all subjects that require writing.
    Any ideas?

  • 20 Debbie 02/27/09 at 10:44 pm

    Also, I have found that sometimes after such a letter, the person whom you mistrust becomes very quiet in meetings. It can be difficult when someone who has broken your trust is brought into a meeting. But remember, if we as parents have the right to bring anyone we choose into meetings, so does the school. This is how it must be if there is to be equity among the team members, parental or staff.

    Pam’s suggestions should put you into a place where you can resume your place as an equal team member with dignity preserved for all. The team approach does more than give us as parents a role, it works to the advantage of our children. The input of the other team members is critical to the development of an effective program for your child. That is why it is so important (and so worthwhile) to maintain the school relationship.