I attended the first IEP meeting for my child. I don’t agree with the school’s proposed IEP. What should I do?
Before the school can place your child in a special education program for the first time, you must give your informed consent. Check the statute and regulations about consent: 20 U.S.C. 1414(a)(1)(D); 34 C.F.R. 300.300.
If you disagree with the school’s proposed program, you should not consent to the IEP. To eliminate misunderstandings, always describe your concerns and objections in writing.
You have the right to disagree with the school about your child’s needs, appropriate services, educational placements, and other issues. You can negotiate, and try to resolve your dispute informally through the IEP process.
Request another IEP meeting to discuss other solutions. Write a “Letter to the Stranger” that describes your child’s history and your concerns.
Writing the “Letter to the Stranger”
This is the “Letter to the Stranger” by Janie Bowman and Pete Wright that was originally posted on the ADD Forum. Learn how to make requests that make decision-makers want to help. Meet the pipe-smoking stranger who is looking over your shoulder when you put pen to paper.
Once you have described your concerns in this letter, you can discuss your concerns with the school members of the team. Try to reach an agreement.
The agreement may be temporary.
For example, you and the school may agree to try a program or placement for a specified period of time, and meet a few weeks later to discuss how your child is doing.
We advise trying to resolve the dispute informally through negotiating with the school.
If you disagree with the team’s plan, you do have other options for resolving disputes - requesting mediation, filing a complaint with the state department of education, requesting a due process hearing. We’ll save these for another post.
You will find more FAQs in an entire chapter about Resolving Parent-School Disputes in Wrightslaw: All About IEPs, Chapter 14.