Do Parents Have to Excuse Members of the IEP Team?

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The bottom line is no.  If you do not agree, a required member of the IEP team may not be excused. If the school asks you to consent to excuse a member and you don’t agree, write a short polite letter to explain that you don’t consent because the individual has valuable information and insights to share with the team.

Do you know the required members of the IEP team? Submit your answer below – then read more about the excusal rule.

Who is not a required member of the IEP team?

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The Excusal Rule

The law includes two circumstances that allow a required team member to be excused from a meeting.

  1. If their area of expertise will not be discussed or modified during the meeting
  2. If their area will be discussed, they must submit a written report to the parent and school team members before the meeting

As a parent,

  1. you may agree with the school that the team member does not need to attend because their area will not be discussed
  2. you may, together with the school, consent to excuse this member whose area will be discussed and they must submit a report prior to the meeting

Both parental agreement and consent must be in writing.

20 U.S.C. 1414(d)(1)(C) and 34 CFR 300.321(e)

Required team members do not include related services providers or others who attend at the discretion of the parent.

This excusal rule allows for more flexibility of scheduling for meetings.  For the initial or annual IEP meeting, all team members should participate.  If a meeting is to review or revise a specific or limited issue, then fewer members may result in a more efficient meeting.

The Commentary says the excusal rules are safeguards to prevent parents from feeling “pressure” to excuse members and says the school cannot unilaterally excuse an IEP Team member. Check the Commentary,  p. 46673 –

Are there penalties for schools that routinely excuse IEP team members?

Yes.  Some school districts may abuse the excusal rule.  All districts are subject to the state’s monitoring and enforcement provisions. A school district that routinely excuses IEP team members from meetings is not in compliance with the law. Some schools have a staff member that manages excusals and addresses complaints of excessive excusals.

Bottom line  – schools should not routinely excuse team members. Do things right the first time. Rescheduling or reconvening meetings so that all members can participate in the IEP decision-making process is inconvenient for everyone.

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70 Comments on "Do Parents Have to Excuse Members of the IEP Team?"

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In my son’s school district the special ed teacher is the only one at the meeting. At the end of the meeting the special ed teacher takes the participation form to the principal and classroom teacher and they sign it. He has been in special ed for 4 years and this is how the meetings have gone. I really wanted to talk to an administrator this year but was not given the opportunity. I don’t understand how they can sign the forms that say they participated in the meeting when they did not.

on the mttc test it asked who had to be at the iep meeting by law was the correct answer the social worker or the school counselor?

Parents should also realize that they have a right not to sign that IEP on the day of the meeting. They also have a right to make additions and deletions to their child’s program as they see fit. Being a parent of a special education student and a special educator, you are your child’s best advocate. Educate yourself on your child’s abilities and weaknesses. Be most concerned that there are strategies listed within the I.E.P. to facilitate your child’s academic, social, and behavioral success.

The Principal does not have to be present. The parent must sign a consent FOR EXCUSAL, AFTER the Administration receives a request for an LEA, OT, PT, SPEC ED TEACHER, REG EDU TEACHER. Basically anyone who has “DIRECT INPUT” into the IEP must have the parent’s written consent of approval to be excused. The school district used the High Shool Principal this year for my daughter’s LEA! The LEA must be part of the Administration and a Principal is not.

We are required by the district to give a three day notice of anyone attending the IEP meetings for our child. However, the county has people show up during the meetings not on the list. We have the head of special ed services, county lawyers, and excessive county representatives without prior notification. What can we do? It seems the rules do not apply for the county that they set forth for the parents. Luckily, I teach in another system so I have access to information.

I am writing to ask if E-IEP’s are legal. Here in Illinois the School District of 299 has switched over to electronic IEP’s without informing the parents of students with disabilities.

I completed approximately 10 IEP’s for parents that many did not attend the IEP meeting. However, our State of Illinois is up for GRABS. We don’t have an honest Mayor or Governor at this time. So, can you please tell me if Electronic IEP are legal?

As a first-year teacher I was bullied by the school administrators. My first IEP meeting of the year occurred before classes even started, and I placed in the position of having to make a decision that went against what the principal and vice principal had originally told the parent. After reviewing the student’s file and speaking in depth with the parent, I determined that the parent was absolutely correct in what she was requesting and made my decision to her favor. From that point forward I was targeted by the administrators, and things quite quickly became unbearable. At all meetings I requested the presence of a district official from the special education department. Because of this the principal refused to attend my meetings, even when her presence her was needed. Special ed. is not easy for anyone involved, but kids are worth it.

If a team member is present and leaves the meeting or comes later in the meeting does their limited time need to recorded somewhere. Do parents have same excusal rule for team members leaving a meeting ?

Administrators from the school where the IEP meeting is taking place regularly attend meetings as “the authority figure” at the meeting. They believe that their responsibilites include being the final say on items of contention. This is extremely inappropriate. Stand firm on your position and always bring a friend, advocate, family member, etc. to attend meetings with you. They can take notes and be an additional set of ears for these issues. As a representative in special education for parents and legal quardians of children on an IEP, I tend to be invited to meetings whose school have such strong authority figures. These administrators especially like to excuse teachers for such things as lunch, bus dismissal etc. Don’t be bullied by them. Reschedule the meeting if you are unsuccesful in obtaining a resolution to this matter. Good luck!

I actually filed a complaint with the Oregon Department of Education for Non-compliance on June 23, 2010. I was tired of the runaround that the School District was giving us and not complying with the IEP’s.
We moved here from Montana in September 2009 and they didn’t hold an IEP acceptance meeting until FEBRUARY 2010!!!
Well, actually, they tried to hold an IEP meeting in November 2009 without us, THE PARENTS, can you believe that one?!?!?!
Then, in January, they actually gave me a letter to sign that stated a letter of “Exception Circumstances as to why the IEP was Delayed”. Uhhh, NO, I wasn’t going to sign this and cover up all of their lies, etc.
As of right now, they have assigned an Investigator as of June 25, 2010 and the School District has until July 12, 2010 to answer the 6 violations on the complaint.

The answer is the principal. He is not a required member of the IEP team, unless he is also the LEA for his school.

one IEP we had, the principal said we need to adjourn the meeting since she had to attend another meeting, but our meeting was not over & not agreeable. If she could not leave, the meeting had to adjourn, so what other option did we have? BTW, that IEP was 3rd or 4th meeting to resolve the same issues.

As a parent and former Special Education teacher the other issue that I saw was ‘required’ ARD personnel would not actually attend the meeting but sign the ARD paperwork as if they did.

Now, having both ‘inside’ knowledge and ‘parental’ knowledge serves me quite well BUT it puts the administration at my son’s school ‘on edge’.

The best advice that I have EVER received regarding ARDS and IEP team meetings is as a parent YOUR primary interest is YOUR child…do NOT let the school or any representative of the school pressure you into agreeing with ANYTHING. YOU DO NOT HAVE to sign the ARD paperwork the day of the ARD! You can request a copy of the paperwork and a ‘waiting period’ to review the information, gather more documentation or consult with other professionals.

Do not forget…you are there for YOUR child!

I am a special education teacher and as far as I know, anyone who the parent would like to invite to the meeting can attend the meeting. It is the parents child that is being discussed and if the student is seeing a counselor then they are welcome at the meeting also. Sometimes the counselor may know the child better than anyone else and will have some very valuable input. I have had counselors at several of my IEP meetings.

I chose the principal as the one that did not have to be a part of the team but unless a school or district representative is present then I feel that the principal would have to part of the team also. I picked principal because they have the least interaction with the student but if there is a problem during the meeting then they should be the one that has to deal with this issue unless the special educator can resolve the problem. Most IEP meeting run smoothly and go off without a hitch but occasionally one might have an issue. I wasn’t sure who to pick because it seemed that they all have a role in the child’s IEP so they should all be part of the team. Why wasn’t all of the above are part of the team a choice?

I chose a regular education teacher only because a student might not have one. Mine does and I have requested that they show up and have yet had it happen, and it is the principal who always walks out of our IEP’s and this last time he did not even show up or I was going to require him to stay he is the one responsible for making sure the IEP is followed how can he do that if he doesn’t know what it is?

Is it allowed by law to have a non special ed certified teacher giving the daily one on one instruction as well as assessments to determine PLAFFs even if there is a token special ed teacher in the room at the same time?

I invited the school counselor to my son’s IEP meeting. He is very comfortable with her and I feel that she understands my son’s needs. She was told by the principal that she did not need to attend. I really wanted her there and want her there for future meetings. I was told that she is not part of the special Education Team. Can someone please advise me on this situation. Thanks!!!

I think the key is there needs to be a school representative that can commit to services. ,When there is a more complicated situation regarding services, not a parent seen as difficult because they advocate for their child, then an administrator from the building or district level may be needed.

My son was being dual enrolled for math at the public school while also enrolled in a nonpublic special ed school. He had been treated very badly on the previous attempt at reintegration. To review reports and finalize services at the public school, we had a meeting in July. They requested that I excuse the general ed teacher, but I did not. A general ed math teacher came. He and the principal ranted at me for an hour, saying that my son did not belong in the class that we were requesting. And he stated that he would not allow an audio recorder in his classroom, a key accommodation that had been written in the notes section during the annual IEP meeting. I was glad that this arose during an IEP meeting, and not in classroom.

Our district sends their Director of Special Education Services to IEPs of parents that they consider “difficult”. (The ones who exercise their right to file compliance complaints or have been to due process with them” I’m still looking for the language in the law that allows this to occur.
My kids’ IEPs usually have about 10 people there. I used to bring food but I stopped. I can’t go broke feeding them all day.

I think that all of the named individuals are required members of the team…it would not allow me to vote without “picking one”. I guess it wouldn’t have to be a principal if there was another administrator present (e.g. special education coordinator, etc.). The choices should have included “all of the above are required members of the team”.

Our school district tries this all the time & we will get to the meeting & they will hand the family a written report with new goals & progress reports. They will give the family no notice ahead of time to say whether you want that person present or not.
We now ask the team leader ahead of time if all staff will be present & if they do not know then we ask her for a roll call of staff that will be present or let her know we will not be attending any meeting that all staff are not present.
Also be prepared for the next little game where the staff will show up just long enough to be present & leave before the team can interact with this staff person. I am not sure which problem is worse.