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

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


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.


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


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


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.


Very valuable information for parent’s to consider!