Do I HAVE to Sign the IEP?

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Why has the school never asked me to sign the IEP?

The federal special education law and regulations do not require a child’s parent to sign the IEP.  Parents are required to give informed consent before the school can provide services in the initial IEP, but not subsequent IEPs.

  • Some state regulations include a provision for parents to sign the IEP to indicate their consent. Many states do not, because the federal law and regulations do not require this.
  • Other states require written consent to implement IEPs on a year-to-year basis.

Check your state special education regulations to learn what your state requires. Remember, you will find your state regulations on the website for your state Department of Education.

Benefits of Signing the IEP

Though not required by federal law, having the IEP team members, including the parent, sign the IEP has several benefits:

  • A signed IEP documents who attended the meeting. If the IEP document is not signed, the school district must document member attendance in another way. This is useful for monitoring and compliance purposes.
  • An IEP signed by you is one way to indicate that you approved the IEP. If you do not approve the program, make a note of your exceptions on the IEP or in a note or letter. If you believe the IEP needs to be modified, you should write a letter to request another meeting to revise the IEP.
  • An IEP signed by the agency representative provides you with a signed record of the services the agency agreed to provide. (Note: Even if the school personnel do not sign the IEP, the school still must provide the services in the IEP.)

In my county, the IEP is completed electronically, so the IEP is never signed by anyone.  There is no opportunity for a parent to comment or disagree in any way.

There are many ways for parents to register dissatisfaction or express concerns.

Documenting Your Concerns

Write a polite letter describing your concerns and advising that you do not agree with the IEP and why. To continue negotiations with the IEP team on this issue(s), request another IEP meeting so you and the school have an opportunity to resolve your differences. Send your letter by regular mail, or hand deliver it. Don’t use certified mail.

The IDEA 97 regulations included Appendix A about IEPs and IEP meetings.  Question 9 in Appendix A says, in part:

Parents and schools should try to resolve their disagreements through the IEP process. The IEP meeting is a communication vehicle between parents and school personnel.  IEP meeting(s) allow parents and school staff to make joint informed decisions about the child’s IEP.

Parents are equal participants in making these decisions. The team must consider the parent’s concerns and the information they provide about their child.

The IEP team should work toward consensus. Consensus does not mean that all team members agree.  It is inevitable that members will have different perspectives.  If the team cannot reach consensus, the school must provide the parents with prior written notice about the school’s proposals or refusals, about the child’s educational program.

Have more questions about IEPs? You will find the answers in Wrightslaw: All About IEPs.

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31 Comments on "Do I HAVE to Sign the IEP?"

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Hello 🙂

I live in California and we have not signed our IEP since March. We do not the majority of the goals or baselines. We have intensive Reading Instruction in a resource room for 90 min a week. That had offered an additional 30 min in May, but it is only in the meetings notes. It is not under services. They repeatedly send us the March IEP to sign and say only then they can implement the additional half hour. We have signed it 3 times with exceptions, yet they still will not accept and refuse ( actually they don’t reply) to just send an amendment for the additional time( which I assuming would be needed anyway, because those minutes are not actually in services section) . Is any of this above board. It all seems a bit off and extremely frustrating.

Thank you

I’m in NJ and just left an IEP meeting and I did sign and want to know if I have time to cancel that agreement. There is something in the IEP that we talked about changing for next year, they know I and my daughter don’t want to keep it like that. However they made no note of it in the IEP. Should I send a letter stating the parts I want changed? Thank you for your help!

NJ automatically implements the IEP after a 15 day review. You cannot partially consent to an IEP in NJ. If you do not agree you ask to reconvene the IEP team, file mediation or file due process. If you file mediation/due process you invoke stay out and the last IEP remains in effect.

I like this way altogether. California. The home of the fruits and nuts is so corrupt. I am on the eighth IEP and twenty five drafts. My son has a learning disability and speech impairment. No behavioral issues or problems. The district here in Bakersfield was just convicted of expelling special needs minorities the most in the country. We moved here almost five years ago from the coast. I never seen anything like this in my life. I filed due process as my only option now. I had two attorneys who could not penetrate these people. All they do is deny and delay a childs education. Make up phony allegations , please write everything down, and tape it all. Use emails, and letters. Stay off the phones. I dont understand why they put my son in the most severe disabled classes.

My school district automatically files due process on me when I sign “with the exception of”. If I don’t sign at all they leave me alone. We’re using the IEP from 2015 because I haven’t signed any current ones because I don’t agree with them.

I currently live in Maryland. my son is having a problem in ONLY comprehension. his teacher recently recommended him for a IEP. Me and my husband were thinking about transferring him to a different school. What parental rights do we have if we don’t sign the IEP?

In Tennessee, if a parent choses not to sign the IEP at the conclusion of an IEP meeting, nothing will be implemented for 14 days to allow for time to review and request changes if desired or to request a due process hearing if needed. If parent does not sign, on the 15th day following the meeting, the services will be implemented (assuming it is not an initial). Is this time allowance/constraint true in all states?

In TX, signing the IEP say I attended or that I agree? Can I retract? What if we cant reach agreement? My child was in Intensive ASD class 3:1 /Autism teacher/ 2 ASD paras, ASD curriculum, services, but moved here to Tx, they had IEP same day of enrollment, they removed services, put her in a multiple disabilities, 14 kids, handed safeguards during meeting & told I had no choice b/c that’s all they had to offer (opposite of what they told us prior)…they have no Autism staff, & threatened w truancy is not sent. My child continues to regress,I was told I had to give them a chance but I have had 2-3 meetings in 8 mo now, we have another IEP meeting on Tuesday… PLEASE HELP??

In Texas, contact if you have questions or concerns about Texas rules and regulations regarding special education issues. It is a state funded project designed to provide resources and information about questions such as yours.

I would say that you have given them 8 months of “chances.” Doing more of the same and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.

My son started kindergarten last year and was having some emotional issues. The school was small and had zero funding for services so I allowed them to give him an iep and put him on homebound. We moved to a much larger school for 1st gra decent and my son feels ready to attend but the new school is refusing to allow him in. They say his old iep is still in effect and their hands are tied. My son has aspergers, if this continues they will lose him, he has to feel accepted unconditionally, not because the law says so. My question is whether or not I have the right to say no to an iep, period, until this new school has the opportunity to get to know my son.

Can a school change an IEP with out letting parents know?

Our son is now attending another school but will return to his initial school. Who maintains the IEP, can the 2nd school modify IEP without consent of the initial school.

Our school called with a modification to a SIGNED IEP that I agreed with as an addition, but I haven’t received a copy even though I requested it. They narrowed the meaning of what was there. Is it legal given it wasn’t signed; should I get a copy of this?

so what happens when the IEP isnt signed on the day of the meeting by all participants, but when you do finally receive it it has been not only signed, but dated the day of the meeting, not dated the day it was actually signed. How long can the teacher wait to give parent a finalized copy of the the IEP after corrections have been requested.

I’m in Florida and since I’ve moved to a different part of Florida the school is making 20 year old son like a ten year old and his work is showing it. If I do not agree with his IEP do I sign against or is it better not to sign which helps me better.

If a parent attends an IEP meeting via phone conference, do I send the signature page home to sign or do I document that the parent participated via phone?

Thank you so much for replying! Sorry to go off the topic of signing the IEP, but I found this when searching Wrightslaw to see if “Appendix A” is still valid.

We got that “it’s outdated” response from the school attorney when we cited Question 29, which says having a school attorney at an IEP could contribute to an adversarial atmosphere and is strongly discouraged. So is there updated guidance about the school sending its attorney to an IEP meeting?

More importantly, is Appendix A to the 1997 law STILL a “persuasive authority” since IDEA was updated in 2004? Or does IDEA 2004 have any appendices to which we can refer for similar, updated guidance? Thanks so much!

Can a student have both a 504 and IEP. I have been told that one a student has an IEP in place the 504 goes away. But I was of the understanding that the 504 carried over into adulthood and did not end at graduation from High School. Thanks Dave

This must vary by state. In PA, as signature on an IEP ONLY indicated attendance, not approval. Approval (or not) is done with the NOREP (Notice of Recommended Educational Placement.) The standard IEP layout includes the phrase “Signature on this IEP documents attendance, not agreement.”

This 2010 post refers to Appendix A of IDEA 1997. Is that Appendix A still valid since IDEA was updated in 2004? When we cited a something from this Appendix A, our school district’s attorney said that it is “outdated,” “not even on the books anymore.” So, does the Appendix A from the old law still carry any weight? Thanks!

Thank you I always thought I had to sign the IEP for them to be implemented.

Can I take the minutes home from the ARD before I sign it that I agree, they read the deliberations to fast and sometimes they go back and add things that was not stated in the meeting?

can schools decide to implement bare bone programs and then just make students fit instead of developing programs based on students needs per IEPs? Is this legal to do?

Can the school system change the iep without my permission or signature. If so, can I request the IEP team to meet again. Also if so, is there a minimum time (number of days) in which they legally have to meet?

I did not sign the IEP. In fact, I wrote a polite but firm note saying that I disagreed with the content of the IEP. Now that the new school year has started, I’m really glad I did. Thanks,

Thanks for this information. I always sign my son’s IEP. NYS is a lot of things but they seem to be on top of this sort of thing.


2006 school created a BIP for my son. 2007-2008 my son had nightmares. 2007 I requested a FBA be done to determine behaviors.The FBA showed that the teacher & staff needed add’l training & classroom needed restructured.Also showed the teacher & staff were the antecedent to son’s behaviors.The end of 2008 several complaints/meetings were held regarding mistreatment by teacher towards son.By April 2008;school changed son’s eligibility from autism to EBD.In this meeting there was a surprise visit by an extra school psychologist.She insisted I transfer my son immediately.I refused to do so.I took son for a private psychologist evaluation.It stated he was not EBD, but PDD-NOS.School changed his main eligibility back to Autism,but won’t remove the EBD.They kept delaying his re-evaluation.Was eligibility changed illegally?What else needed done?