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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!?"


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


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.


In some cases, one person may fill two roles. But that individual must meet the requirements. Turn in your law book to
Federal Regs – §300.321, IDEA 1414(d), or to Chapter 2 in Wrightslaw: All About IEPs.

The school district representative must be an individual who is knowledgeable about the general education curriculum and resources available in the district. The district representative must be qualified to provide special education services or supervise special education teachers.