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"The school won't let me to add input to my child's IEP. Can they do this? How should I deal with this?"
I wrote a "parent IEP attachment" and asked that it be included with my child's IEP. The special education coordinator refused. She said my input could not be attached to the IEP because of school policy.
Can they do this? Is this written in the law? How can I deal with this?
What is the Purpose of the Law?
When Congress amended the law in 1997, their "Findings" included these statements about the role of parents:
"(5) Over 20 years of research and experience has demonstrated that the education of children with disabilities can be made more effective by--Why did Congress pass the special ed law? What are the purposes of the law? Here is what Congress wrote:
"(d) Purposes.--The purposes of this title are--As Congress wanted to strengthen the role of parents and ensure that families "have meaningful opportunities to participate in the education of their children," your district's "policy" about barring parent IEP attachments is not consistent with the spirit or the letter of the law.
Use Appendix A as a Tool
Appendix A was an appendix to the 1999 special education regulations that discusses IEP requirements, IEP teams, the parental role, and other issues in Q & A format. It was not re-issued with the 2006 regulations, however much of it is still valid in terms of the concepts. Here is what Appendix A says about your role:
II. Involvement of Parents and Students
1. Review what the law, regulations, and Appendix A say about IEPs and the parental role.
Do you have our book, Wrightslaw: Special Education Law? If you don't have the book, you can download the federal regulations and Appendix A from our site (links follow). Wrightslaw: Special Education Law makes things easier because you have the statute and regulations in one place, along with Pete's commentary.
2. Get your state special ed regs.
You can probably download your state regs from the state department of education's site. It's good to have a hard copy of the regs too - bound so you can make notes. Your state regs should track the federal regs.
What do the law and regulations say about IEPs and your role as the child's parent? What do your state special ed regs say about IEPs and your role as the child's parent?
3. Make notes.
As you read the statute and regulations, make notes that support your position. You can begin with our "Legal Lesson." At this point, you may know more about IEP requirements than anyone else on your child's IEP team.
Tactics & Strategy:
After you know what the law says, write a short businesslike letter to the director of special ed and /or superintendant. (Writing a short business-like letter is the hardest part of this Game Plan)
Briefly describe your attempt(s) to participate in your child's IEP, that you thought you were a member of your child's IEP team, that you asked to have your input included as an attachment to the IEP, but that INSERT PERSONS NAME advised you that "school policy" does not allow you to provide input.
You are confused. This school policy is not consistent with anything you've read about IEPs and your role as the child's parent. Perhaps there has been a misunderstanding.
Request (very politely) that the district provide you with their written policy that prevents you from adding a parent attachment to your child's IEP. Since Christmas break begins on DATE, you understand that school staff are busy with parties and holiday activities. To save time, you'll be happy to come to the school to pick this information up.
Try to keep your letter to one page. The tone should be polite and businesslike. You want to give school officials a way to change their position without losing face or admitting fault.
Hand-deliver the letter (don't send it by mail or certified). When you deliver your letter, make a note about who you gave it to, what the person said, what the person was wearing, anything else that happened at the time you delivered the letter. (It's quite possible that the school may lose your letter so this detailed information shows that you did deliver it.)
Your next step depends on what happens next. Keep us posted.
Tactics & Strategy Links:
How to Use a "Parent IEP Attachment" by Advocate Judy Bonnell
Wrightslaw Tactics & Strategy Manual
Index to special ed regulations