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

08/28/08
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!?"


Judy
06/18/2014

Could you please tell me if a person can play two roles at a PPT meeting. For example, if your are the evaluator (school psychologist) can you also fill the role of the administrator at a PPT? Thanks you for you prompt attention to this matter.

R.D.
06/17/2014

I would like to better understand the role of a legal guardian in the IEP Process. I have several children and youth on my case load that have IEPs. I have met with school’s Special Lead teach etc. and requested to be included as the child’s Educational Advocate. forwhat ever reasons I am not contacted when an IEP meeting is held
What can I do about this?

doug
06/17/2014

I echo all the frustrations everyone has voiced previously. Here in Kentucky parents may technically be members of the IEP team but they are NOT full team members. Even before the meeting starts the admins already have the outcome they want in mind and that’s what they get. Decisions are a “team” decisions, meaning that what parents say and think doesn’t matter because if other “team” members (teaches and admins) aren’t in agreement then it goes their way, not the parents way.

It’s very frustrating and I’ve given up trying to negotiate with these people during the ARC meeting. Parents are included because it gives us the illusion of choice and involvement. If we disagree then they say “take it to a due process hearing” which sounds extremely overwhelming and I have not tried that yet.

alyson
04/17/2014

I’m in Florida. My autistic has shot back wards since he’s been in new school. I asked to go for in for a hour to observe and help them with my son, they said no because it disturbs the classroom. I asked to volunteer. They say no, they don’t need any volunteers. What can I do?

laurie
03/02/2014

I was recently told by a top administrator in the MI Dept of education that, “The parents have never agreed to an IEP. They only agree to services which are determined by the school team who are the experts”. She basically told me schools made all the decisions about programs and services, and if parents didnt like them they would have follow the normal complaint process.”Its the LAW” she emphasized. This comes from me questioning their proposed change in the state’s timeline for initial eligibility They want to have parents sign consent for services after eligibility is granted but PRIOR to development of the IEP. This is contrary to federal language which states that a parent must be an equal member of their IEP team in the development of the IEP. What gives? (public comment open through march 13th at 5pm)