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Do I HAVE to Sign the IEP?

09/27/10
by Wrightslaw

Why has the school never asked me to sign the IEP?

The federal special education law and regulations do not require a child’s parent to sign the IEP.  Parents are required to give informed consent before the school can provide services in the initial IEP, but not subsequent IEPs.

  • Some state regulations include a provision for parents to sign the IEP to indicate their consent. Many states do not, because the federal law and regulations do not require this.
  • Other states require written consent to implement IEPs on a year-to-year basis.

Check your state special education regulations to learn what your state requires. Remember, you will find your state regulations on the website for your state Department of Education.

Benefits of Signing the IEP

Though not required by federal law, having the IEP team members, including the parent, sign the IEP has several benefits:

  • A signed IEP documents who attended the meeting. If the IEP document is not signed, the school district must document member attendance in another way. This is useful for monitoring and compliance purposes.
  • An IEP signed by you is one way to indicate that you approved the IEP. If you do not approve the program, make a note of your exceptions on the IEP or in a note or letter. If you believe the IEP needs to be modified, you should write a letter to request another meeting to revise the IEP.
  • An IEP signed by the agency representative provides you with a signed record of the services the agency agreed to provide. (Note: Even if the school personnel do not sign the IEP, the school still must provide the services in the IEP.)

In my county, the IEP is completed electronically, so the IEP is never signed by anyone.  There is no opportunity for a parent to comment or disagree in any way.

There are many ways for parents to register dissatisfaction or express concerns.

Documenting Your Concerns

Write a polite letter describing your concerns and advising that you do not agree with the IEP and why. To continue negotiations with the IEP team on this issue(s), request another IEP meeting so you and the school have an opportunity to resolve your differences. Send your letter by regular mail, or hand deliver it. Don’t use certified mail.

The IDEA 97 regulations included Appendix A about IEPs and IEP meetings.  Question 9 in Appendix A says, in part:

Parents and schools should try to resolve their disagreements through the IEP process. The IEP meeting is a communication vehicle between parents and school personnel.  IEP meeting(s) allow parents and school staff to make joint informed decisions about the child’s IEP.

Parents are equal participants in making these decisions. The team must consider the parent’s concerns and the information they provide about their child.

The IEP team should work toward consensus. Consensus does not mean that all team members agree.  It is inevitable that members will have different perspectives.  If the team cannot reach consensus, the school must provide the parents with prior written notice about the school’s proposals or refusals, about the child’s educational program.

Have more questions about IEPs? You will find the answers in Wrightslaw: All About IEPs.

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20 Comments on "Do I HAVE to Sign the IEP?"


Angie
02/13/2015

Can a school change an IEP with out letting parents know?

Sarah
02/03/2015

Our son is now attending another school but will return to his initial school. Who maintains the IEP, can the 2nd school modify IEP without consent of the initial school.

02/04/2015

Sarah, Cannot answer your question without more info about circumstances that led to son attending school #2, who decided he will return to school #1 and why.

If both schools are public schools within the same school district, the school he attends should maintain and modify the IEP. If a public school placed him into a private school, the public school is still responsible for ensuring that he receives a free, appropriate public education.

sally
02/03/2015

Our school called with a modification to a SIGNED IEP that I agreed with as an addition, but I haven’t received a copy even though I requested it. They narrowed the meaning of what was there. Is it legal given it wasn’t signed; should I get a copy of this?

02/04/2015

Sally, the school is required to provide you with a copy of your child’s IEP. Write a short letter to request a copy.

The law requires that parents give their informed written consent before the school can implement the initial or first IEP. See what the law requires for parental consent in “All About IEPs,” pgs 23-24. http://www.wrightslaw.com/store/aaieps.html

You say the school called you about a modification. You agreed to the modification. Now you think they “narrowed the meaning” of what was in the IEP. Get a copy of the IEP. Make sure you understand the modification before you object. If you aren’t sure you understand, ask questions.

Federal law and regulations do not require parental consent for later IEPs. Some states do require consent. In other states, signing a later IEP signifies that the parent was present, not that the parent gives consent.

Look at the IEP to see if your signature is consent or attendance. See “All About IEPs,” page 24. http://www.wrightslaw.com/store/aaieps.html