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Parents Are Not Members of the IEP Team … Say What!?

by Wrightslaw

I’m a special education teacher. At a meeting today, our sped director told us that “parents are not a part of the IEP Team.” The director indicated that implementing an IEP requires the parents’ consent although they are not members of the IEP team. Can you clarify this?

Parents are and always have been members of the IEP team. I can’t imagine why your sped director would tell teachers that parents are not members of the IEP team, but parents have to provide consent to the IEP. If parents aren’t involved in developing the IEP as members of the team, how would they give consent?

The sped director HAS to know this. BUT you and your fellow teachers . . . . . . need to know how to find answers to your questions in the federal law and regulations. If you don’t know how to find answers, you are at the mercy of others for information. 

woman reading in a library

Do you have a copy of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)? As a special education teacher, you should. 

The law about IEPs is in Section 1414(d). If you have a copy of Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, turn to page 101. You’ll see (B) Individualized Education Team midway down the page in bold type. Parents are listed first. The federal regulations about IEPs are on pages 245-251. Required members of the IEP team are listed on pages 246-247. Again, parents are listed first.

When you have to deal with a situation like this, we recommend that you use the “Columbo Approach.” It goes like this – “I’m confused … I don’t understand … it says right here that … ” (as you point to the relevant text in the statute or regulations). Of course (like Miss Manners), you are polite.

You will be in a stronger position if you have the law book in hand, relevant portions of the law highlighted, and sticky notes marking the pages. If you do this, you won’t need to say much (except “I’m confused …”). The law will speak for itself.

Your experience shows why it’s so important for teachers (and parents) to know how to find answers to questions in the law on their own. If you can’t do this, you’ll rely on what others tell you. As you’ve learned, they may be dead wrong.

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76 Comments on "Parents Are Not Members of the IEP Team … Say What!?"


At my son’s eligibility and IEP meeting, we did the eligibility and agreed on accommodations, but time was running short so the school said they would finish up the paperwork and send me the final paperwork for me to review via email, which they did. I reviewed it and emailed back a request for one specific addition on the accommodations. They emailed me back indicating they added it. I looked at the part they said they would add, and they did. BUT, I didn’t find out until later that they secretly changed two other items at that same time without telling me. this was something we did not agree to at the original meeting and something they didn’t tell me they changed when they sent the ‘revised’ copy. I signed it, believing them that they only added the one change that I asked for. What is my recourse?


I was just informed my son has an IEP that I have never known about or had a meeting over. Can someone help me since I am angry but did ask when and how this could happen without my consent or knowledge to so far get nothing in return.


My Special Education VP says that we have to hold separate meetings for reevaluation, eligibility and IEP or we’re out of compliance. I pointed out that both federal and our state law says that the educational agency should consolidate meetings to the extent possible.

Moreover, one of the special education teachers who was once our special education department chairperson said that if we bring a draft of the IEP to the eligibility meeting then we’re predetermining special education eligibility. I politely countered that no, we’re preparing for all possible outcomes and that it’s only a draft.

I live in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals jurisdiction. Has there been recent court findings to cause our district to direct that we hold distinct meetings for each step in the reevaluation process? I’m confused.


My sp. Ed. chair just sent an email (school ended last Friday) requesting ANY 5th grade teacher to sit in on an IEP meeting for a student from this school year. I didn’t teach the child and do not know her. Is this legal? Shouldn’t the team members be directly responsible for the students instruction?


My son is 16yrs old, his ABA been working with him since he was 7yrs old. Now my district wants to remove his ABA for a Paraprofessional. As a parent, I don’t agree with that decision. He has made a big progress with them. What should I tell them? What should I do about this decision? Thank You, Maria