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The Parent IEP Attachment: A Powerful Tool
by Judy Bonnell, Advocate

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Until l recently, I had great difficulty getting school districts to take parent attachments seriously. Recently, I was told that the district could not attach the parent document to their child's IEP!

I turned to Written Prior Notice in the Procedural Safeguards section of the statute (Section 1415(b)(3), pages 108-109 in Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition, pages 108-109; and in the special education regulations at CFR 300.503 in Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition, pages 253-254).

Written Prior Notice

Written Prior Notice clearly states that requests put on the table must be accepted or rejected, and that the IEP team must provide the reasons for accepting or rejecting the parent's proposal.
I don't think most parents realize what a powerful tool this is.

Parent IEP Attachment

Using the requirements in Written Prior Notice, I devised a simple form with four columns: one column for Proposal, columns for Accepted or Rejected, and a column for "Reason Accepted or Rejected." (See sample form)

If the parent's request is accepted, a notation is added about who is responsible for initiating the proposal and the start date.

The parent must ensure that the IEP team states their reasons for accepting or rejecting each proposal.

After doing this in a couple of meetings, our district suggested using my form to keep track of proposals and how they were resolved. I was so proud of them! They are in compliance. And parents now have definite "yes" or "no" answers to their requests, and the reasons for these decisions.

When the IEP team uses this form (even if it is an unofficial form designed by a parent), it eliminates concerns about inactivity or that someone will drop the ball, sidestep a request, or simply forget.

All members of the IEP team know which issues have been resolved and which issues have not been decided. Issues that are tabled for further investigation should have a name attached and a date for the issue to be answered.

Parents need to understand what a powerful tool this is. If they use this form as a strategy to make the IEP process work for their child, the IEP process may become a little more "parent friendly."

Sample Prior Written Notice Form

IEP for _____________________________________________


Accepted Rejected
Start date
Responsible person

Download Prior Written Notice Form in pdf.

I continue to be a big fan of your site. As an advocate, your site is the first one I refer parents to. I was delighted to see permission granted to reprint your articles so I may pass them on to parents who do not have access to the internet.

More Advocacy Tips from Judy Bonnell 

Judy Bonnell's website, Special Needs and Special Gifts, includes many excellent articles and tips for parents and advocates.

Build on the Strengths
- Describes the importance of focusing on islands of competence; providing behavioral support; the need to test the child's knowledge, not the child's disability; finding strengths.

The Bumpy Road - Describes what happens when the parent-school partnership breaks down; offers suggestions to resolve differences and disputes.

Parents Rights. When your child is qualified for special education services and supports you are a member of the team that will make decisions about his Individualized Education Plan, or IEP.

Understanding Prior Written Notice. - Explains why prior written notice can be a parent's best friend at a meeting, fully documenting all recommendations, including the parent's recommendations.

Last revised: 03/21/13

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