My school told me, “You are the expert at home and the district is the expert at school.” I did not agree to my daughter’s IEP. The district refused to allow me to tape record meetings and include my notes with the district’s notes. I filed a state complaint.
The complaint: The school completely ignored my issues and did not allow me to be an equal participant on my daughter’s IEP team.
The State Department of Education response: IDEA requires schools to give parents an opportunity to participate in the IEP process and to consider the parent’s input. There is no requirement that parents be an “equal” decision-maker nor is there any standard to determine the quantity or quality of participation. The school is not out of compliance.
Is this right?
Sorry, but I have to agree with your State here. IDEA does not require that parents be equal decision-makers. You may want to check your State’s law; it may provide more rights than does IDEA.
IDEA requires that parents be equal participants in the special education process. When a dispute occurs… the school is responsible for ensuring FAPE. Therefore, IDEA intends the school to make a decision about the dispute that provides the student with FAPE.
Since the school and the parent disagree, the school’s decision will usually not be in the parents’ favor. This is when the parents’ due process rights kick in.
To dispute that decision, you have:
- a Constitutional right
- a right under IDEA and your State’s special education law.
You can exercise your due process rights through the State Complaint system. If the issue is about discrimination, you can file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights.
I do not know why the State complaint investigator ruled the way he did. You may have inartfully phrased the allegations in your complaint. That’s what it seems to be. Or, it could be that the complaint was a “he said/she said” complaint with no real proof. Parents almost always lose that one.
I strongly suggest that you review these two articles on Wrightslaw.
When you learn to prepare a written report to give to the IEP Team and to write a Written Opinion following decisions you disagree with, then you will most likely have the proof you need to “win” these kinds of complaints.
20 USC Section 1415, page 107 and 34 CFR Section 300.500, page 251
This is the way I summarize a parent’s procedural safeguards:
1. You have a right to be a full participant in the special education process. (Not a full decision-maker).
2. You have a right to submit information about your child.
3. You have a right to disagree with decisions made about your child.
4. You have a right to due process to dispute these decisions.
Pat Howey is an Indiana advocate who helps parents obtain special education services and resolve special education disputes. She also provides Wrightslaw advocacy training. Pat answers your questions in Ask the Advocate.