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Do Parents Have to Excuse Members of the IEP Team?

by Wrightslaw

The bottom line is no.  If you do not agree, a required member of the IEP team may not be excused. If the school asks you to consent to excuse a member and you don’t agree, write a short polite letter to explain that you don’t consent because the individual has valuable information and insights to share with the team.

Do you know the required members of the IEP team? Submit your answer below – then read more about the excusal rule.

Who is not a required member of the IEP team?

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The Excusal Rule

The law includes two circumstances that allow a required team member to be excused from a meeting.

  1. If their area of expertise will not be discussed or modified during the meeting
  2. If their area will be discussed, they must submit a written report to the parent and school team members before the meeting

As a parent,

  1. you may agree with the school that the team member does not need to attend because their area will not be discussed
  2. you may, together with the school, consent to excuse this member whose area will be discussed and they must submit a report prior to the meeting

Both parental agreement and consent must be in writing.

20 U.S.C. 1414(d)(1)(C) and 34 CFR 300.321(e)

Required team members do not include related services providers or others who attend at the discretion of the parent.

This excusal rule allows for more flexibility of scheduling for meetings.  For the initial or annual IEP meeting, all team members should participate.  If a meeting is to review or revise a specific or limited issue, then fewer members may result in a more efficient meeting.

The Commentary says the excusal rules are safeguards to prevent parents from feeling “pressure” to excuse members and says the school cannot unilaterally excuse an IEP Team member. Check the Commentary,  p. 46673 –

Are there penalties for schools that routinely excuse IEP team members?

Yes.  Some school districts may abuse the excusal rule.  All districts are subject to the state’s monitoring and enforcement provisions. A school district that routinely excuses IEP team members from meetings is not in compliance with the law. Some schools have a staff member that manages excusals and addresses complaints of excessive excusals.

Bottom line  – schools should not routinely excuse team members. Do things right the first time. Rescheduling or reconvening meetings so that all members can participate in the IEP decision-making process is inconvenient for everyone.

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62 Comments on "Do Parents Have to Excuse Members of the IEP Team?"

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08/20/2015 5:55 am

We just had our first IEP meeting for our autistic son, and I have a question: is the principal required to be involved? We do NOT get along, and I would feel better if she were not directly involved (i.e. having to meet with her). She has an entitled attitude that is not helpful in this situation.

10/18/2015 2:51 pm

You need an LEA which is generally the principal to be there. See if the school could appoint someone else that could serve in the LEA role.

05/10/2015 2:32 pm

If you are looking for an excuse to miss or leave early a IEP Team Meeting, then I don’t want you on my team. If this happens then there is not a coordinated effort to help the student. Use your common sense, please.

09/22/2014 10:49 pm

Can a parent request that principal not attend ard?

08/10/2014 6:41 pm

My disabled child has missed one of the two years he has attended school, due to the fact the school refuses to listen to us about our child’s safety need the school refuses to meet. We have two years of documentation showing the school intentionally place our son life at risk by telling us everyone was trained to save his life. We of course found out the school lied to us and no one was in fact trained. We, the parents, will not have an IEP with the school if they invite a person who in our opinion, and documented… Read more »

12/28/2013 3:45 pm

Here’s a new one: they reused an attendance signature page from a former IEP meeting for the new IEP they sent home.

09/29/2013 11:09 am

Your articles and information are excellent. However an LEA is a required member who may or may not be the principal. So your poll question is somewhat inaccurate .

09/24/2013 2:25 pm

How does an IEP team member know if their area of expertise will or will not be discussed at a meeting ahead of time? My daughter is gifted and talented as well as having Aspergers. She’s in a community work program that doesn’t fit with someone who is gifted. (She’s done things like wipe off tables and arrange retail merchandise.) We feel that a better placement would be in an office environment – like at our local SPCA. She has very poor social skills and they are looking to put her in an environment… Read more »

09/24/2013 12:06 pm

I have been refused the option of tape recording meetings. Does the team or an individual team member have that right?

09/24/2013 11:15 am

The principal is not required so long as an LEA representative is. An LEA reap does not have to be a school principal, but they must have the authority to commit resources.

09/24/2013 11:03 am

I’ve asked very respectfully for the replacement of a Parent Liaison (school district); and am being ignored. I have placed it in writing; and now I received an email saying both the new ESE Director and the PL that we do not like nor trust will be coming on the date we last agreed upon. The new ESE Director wanted me to change the formerly agreed upon date for the IEP meeting and I said NO, as that would disrupt the 6 Advocates that had already made arrangement to be there for over three weeks.
The PL… Read more »

09/24/2013 9:12 am

Even though their presence is not required, I think the principal of the school should be at the IEP meeting or the VP, so they know the child’s modifications and the parents’ concerns. They are often involved in the PTO and fundraising. Why not special ed? It seems like a no brainer to me.

03/04/2013 1:17 am

Can a team member (RSP Teacher) excuse herself from the IEP meeting because she does not agree with your questions. The RSP Teacher could not answer our question so she removed herself from the IEP meeting. (She is my son’s RSP Teacher).and can the School academic counselor leave shortly after without requested she be excused.

01/20/2013 7:18 pm

Can a school district deny a parent to bring a friend to a parent teacher conference of a seven year old special needs child?

03/05/2012 5:47 pm

To Lelah–

Whether your child is included in science and social studies for academics or for socialization, I say let her carry the textbook(s) at least. If she’s capable of following along looking at the pictures, she could get some exposure to new vocabulary. The goal is to make her school day like that of her peers whenever possible.

Sharon L.
03/04/2012 12:07 pm

Lelah – That is a new one for me. If your daughter is in an inclusion academic class there is no reason they cannot accommodate her via the IEP, If a team meeting is needed to add more accommodations/modifications to make the inclusion class work by all means have that meeting. Socialization is good and she needs the academics as well.

Sharon L.
03/04/2012 12:19 am

GiGi – I have found that when I let the IEP team know I am bringing a digital tape recorder to the IEP meeting not only is it easier for me to remember what was said later on & and I don’t have to take so many notes I find that the team acts more professionally. Make sure you let them know you are bringing a tape recorder. You may see quite a change in the tone of the meeting.

Sharon L.
03/03/2012 11:55 pm

D. Orr – This happened to us as well and we did not understand it. We thought about taking it to a higher level but did not deciding instead that this was not a battle that we were going to pick with the school. We accepted the written document and moved on to items that were more important to us. I agree with you completely but the school does have the right to decide if an aid can attend or not as it is not required by law.

02/29/2012 2:46 pm

I wish we could get our principal excused from the IEP team. He is completely out of control. He believes that “Special Education Kids” are causing the demise of the public education system in America. He is hostile, condescending, an absolute bully! He openly does not like my child and is just horrible. Can we ask that the principal not be a part of the team? I would be thrilled if I never had to set eyes on that bully again!

02/29/2012 11:16 am

does this also apply to 504 Plans??

02/29/2012 10:18 am

our school had an extra school psychologist show up unannounced to an IEP meeting.Then they changed his eligibility from Autism to EBD.This was done as an attempt to get him out of their school.I fought & he was able to remain in the same school.However it took them 2 1/2 years to get the EBD removed from his eligibility.If your school has switched psychologist without notifying you I would look at it as a red flag & ask what their motive is.I hate to say this, but, trust no one.I have learned to lose trust in special ed personnel who… Read more »

02/29/2012 10:08 am

I am being told that my 8th grader has to attend the IEP meeting we are having to discuss him going into High School. I have always preferred to not have him in the meetings.Is it mandatory, as the school says, for him to attend? I have met his upcoming teacher & my motherly instincts are telling me to watch out.Especially since he is a football coach & not so nice tone of voice.My son is hypersensitive to tones of voices.I’m not sure how this teacher will be in the meeting & therefor not sure that my son should… Read more »

02/28/2012 11:03 pm

I am the IEP teacher in an offsite Transition program. We have no general ed in or near our building and none that would know our program or at students at this stage. I have been told I can routinely use the excusal form for Gen Ed and thus far, parents fully understand and agree. However, my question is when the student is working/training in the community though DVR and/or a job coach, why cannot that person sign as general ed? We have to put the minutes on the service matrix for the work training time down as general ed… Read more »

02/28/2012 8:34 pm

I was wondering if the school psycologist who has been in every meeting for 5 years can be substituted with one who you never have
met till a manifestation meeting. Then not be seen again. I feel the school did this so they could get the outcome they wanted which was to determine the incident was not a manifestation. I want to file for a due process hearing or maybe file a complaint. I was not told of the changeor knew of it till the meeting.

02/28/2012 6:09 pm

We have a situation where the administrator is late, can the parents agree to start meeting without them or do we have to wait for administrator?

02/28/2012 5:43 pm

I would chose the Principal unless he is representing the School District. I want both the Special and Regular Education Teacher in attendance. Also, I want someone who can interpret all the evaluations. As a Parent, I AM the most important person sitting at the table. Personally, I like when the Principal attends the meetings. I want the Principal to see how his staff is conducting IEP meetings and how they behave during these meetings. So actually, in my own opinion, all the above are important members of the team. I also want… Read more »

Ron S.
02/28/2012 4:14 pm

I make my own sign up sheet for the IEP meeting including both the sign in and sign out time and then send it as a letter of attachment to the IEP just to keep everyone honest. Do not forget to include the parents and anyone the parents bring with them.

02/28/2012 1:04 pm

My child has inclusion for subjects social studies and science. I just recently learned that she is not in that class for academics but more so for socialization. I agreed to have a SLP goal to be implemented for that classroom and now am having second thoughts. I received textbooks and workbooks for inclusion class but if my child is not in there for academics, then why issue textbooks? Can you help?

Sheila B.
02/28/2012 10:25 am

Federal law doesn’t require an IEP meeting be delayed if the parents won’t attend. Parents must be invited.

State law doesn’t require an IEP meeting be delayed if the parents won’t attend. It’s only recommended the parents be invited twice & cancel twice before having an IEP meeting w/o parents who won’t come.

Since we the parents have specifically requested this meeting go on without us, I propose that to delay it is to take away the right provided by Federal law that by omission does not require parents to attend IEP meetings.

To delay this IEP meeting by not accepting the… Read more »

02/28/2012 10:01 am

This month the special program coordinator suddenly announced she was leaving in 5 minutes and shortly after the SPED director announced she was leaving in 15 minutes. When she left, everyone else got up and left me sitting there.
The teacher is usually excused after the first 1/2 hour but they give her 5 minutes and then interrupt that conversation.
The speech teacher never attended the first IEP meeting and I wasn’t told until the meeting started. Then the Team chair chair announced that she’s a SLP although she’d never worked with the child and had no report.
This is a constant problem… Read more »

02/28/2012 9:10 am

When an iep meeting is scheduled, shouldn’t all written reports be delivered to the parents at least five calendar days before the meetng, whether or not that team member will participate in the actual meeting in Maryland? Schools basically just have someone else at the meeting read/go over a report when the person who wrote it won’t be there for whatever reason. Parents are not asked about excusing anyone from the team. I”ve never seen or heard of a process to ask parents to excuse required members from attendance.

D. Orr
02/28/2012 9:07 am

We made several requests to have the aid who is assigned to our son and provides the majority of his interention to attend our IEP meeting. We were denied this request by both the Special Education Teacher and the School Principal. They opted instead for the aid to make a written statement. We felt that it was very important that the person providing the intervention be in attendance. (We have never met this person.) We did not have any particular complaints towards this individual — we just felt that it was extremely important that we… Read more »

11/27/2011 5:59 pm

I have a question. Earlier this year we went to my child’s IEP meeting. The only people present at the meeting were the parents, two intervention specialists and three of my child’s teachers. No district representative attended. We signed the IEP and got an official copy from the school two weeks later.

A friend told me that the school has IEP meetings without a principal or district representative present, and then has the principal sign the IEP the next day. I went back and checked my child’s IEP .. lo and behold, there was the principal’s signature!… Read more »

Sharon L.
11/22/2011 9:01 pm

Tim – Yes they have this right. Perhaps another teacher can take her place or the special ed director can take her place. You can bring a digital tape recorder to the meeting and tell the team you are doing so. This often helps keep people more honest and more professional acting. Maybe this could be an alternative.

11/22/2011 6:00 pm

We are having an IEP mtg. for a student in our high school. She has asked that a staff member of Sp.Ed not attend the meeting as she is uncomfortable with her presence at the meeting. Does the student have this right. Pls answer soon…
Thanks Tim

07/08/2010 12:23 pm

I’m not sure if it’s the absolute correct answer, but it happened to me ONCE. So now I make sure I am the last person to sign the attendance form. I then take the liberty to draw a line through each area where there was no one present (including the duplicate signature place for me and where my son would sign. Since no one EVER signs as the school district representative (sometimes she is there but signs as her other title) I make a notation in my notes of the same & draw a line through the space.

If… Read more »

07/08/2010 9:23 am

In my son’s school district the special ed teacher is the only one at the meeting. At the end of the meeting the special ed teacher takes the participation form to the principal and classroom teacher and they sign it. He has been in special ed for 4 years and this is how the meetings have gone. I really wanted to talk to an administrator this year but was not given the opportunity. I don’t understand how they can sign the forms that say they participated in the meeting when they did not.

07/04/2010 11:24 am

on the mttc test it asked who had to be at the iep meeting by law was the correct answer the social worker or the school counselor?

Christine T
06/30/2010 9:51 am

Parents should also realize that they have a right not to sign that IEP on the day of the meeting. They also have a right to make additions and deletions to their child’s program as they see fit. Being a parent of a special education student and a special educator, you are your child’s best advocate. Educate yourself on your child’s abilities and weaknesses. Be most concerned that there are strategies listed within the I.E.P. to facilitate your child’s academic, social, and behavioral success.

06/30/2010 9:47 am

The Principal does not have to be present. The parent must sign a consent FOR EXCUSAL, AFTER the Administration receives a request for an LEA, OT, PT, SPEC ED TEACHER, REG EDU TEACHER. Basically anyone who has “DIRECT INPUT” into the IEP must have the parent’s written consent of approval to be excused. The school district used the High Shool Principal this year for my daughter’s LEA! The LEA must be part of the Administration and a Principal is not.

06/29/2010 10:36 pm

We are required by the district to give a three day notice of anyone attending the IEP meetings for our child. However, the county has people show up during the meetings not on the list. We have the head of special ed services, county lawyers, and excessive county representatives without prior notification. What can we do? It seems the rules do not apply for the county that they set forth for the parents. Luckily, I teach in another system so I have access to information.