Can the School “Out Vote” Me at IEP Meetings?

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My son’s speech services have been discontinued. The principal of my school says I was “out voted” because there are more school staff than me as one parent. I’m sure this is not right!

An IEP team should not “vote” on decisions about your child’s special education program or placement.

This is not consistent with the law about parental participation. Parents should be equal participants in making decisions about their child’s special education program.

IDEA 1997, Appendix A states –

“The IEP team should work toward consensus, but the public agency has ultimate responsibility to ensure that the IEP includes the services that the child needs in order to receive FAPE. It is not appropriate to make IEP decisions based upon a majority ‘vote’.

See Question #9.

In the FAQs book Wrightslaw: All About IEPs,  you will find this question: 

Can the IEP team ‘vote’ for a child’s placement, over the objections of her parents and another team member?  I’ve copied part of the answer below.

“IEP meetings allow parents and school staff to make joint informed decisions about your child’s IEP. The IEP team should work toward consensus. If the team cannot each consensus, the school must provide the parents with prior written notice about what the school proposes or refuses to do.”

Find the complete answer, the appropriate legal citations, more about prior written notice and resolving parent-school disputes in Chapter 14 of All About IEPs.

  1. My son’s placement was changes without consent. My son had been in the general education classroom and then he was placed in an Autism classroom. When we asked Why? the school responded that they voted and this was his new placement. This does not sound right and we want our son to be around non-disabled peers. We requested that he be transferred back to the general education classroom but school refused saying the peers don’t like him and the teacher is enjoying the fact that he is gone. What can we do to help our son?

  2. My daughter had an IEP from 2 states we lived in. We moved to Washington state and her school never had an IEP for the state of Washington, but followed Oregon’s IEP somewhat. Then the school district tested her and said she didn’t qualify for an IEP because her test scores were too good. So they discontinued her services. We went thru 2 attorney’s and 1 year of fighting with the school district. We couldn’t afford to pay the attorney any more, she wanted 25,000 retainer for a due process hearing. How can we help our daughter who has many diagnosis and does need help!!

  3. Just had annual IEP for my son. Highlights; it’s 2012 and yes the sped director stated they can’t provide Lexia software at home because it costs too much (again this fiscal school year our sped budget ended with a surplus of over a half million). I got the regression/maintain speech for ESY. I got the “we don’t want to set a precedent” line but best of all the asst sped stated (not discussed as a team decision) that the police are going to called if my son leaves the building! Even if you stapled the laws to their head they would still believe they don’t apply to them and I’m still the parent who will remind them about the laws and advocate for my son needs and hope things will get better.

  4. This last year was a whirl wind without my knowing much about IEPs, BIPs, conditional releases, medical diagnoses vs educational. I feel that my voice is finally being heard a little more. But my son suffered abuse and I went through hell while I learned about it. I don’t think we should have to learn this the hard way.
    Last IEP mtng was a week ago. They finally said that because of what my son went through in the past, and because they didn’t pick him up for ESY in the summer, they will offer him 30 hours Comp Ed. I was speechless (Which is rare). After all he went thru, you should give him what I asked for – a new special ed at private school, funding, private services, tools for care, transportation, etc.
    30 hours? Wow that is it? And he is in day treatment. We thought he would graduate by now – but now they want to keep him.

  5. My son has Down Syndrome and Autism. My son’s pediatrician at the Trisomy 21 clinic at CHOP, the therapists at CHOP, and independent evaluators all say that my son needs to receive more OT and speech therapy at school. I have attended MANY IEP meetings, with and without my lawyer. If the school district insists that my son DOES NOT require more therapy – no matter what all the experts know and recommend in their evaluations – the school district will not provide the therapy he needs.

    The school district would rather settle these cases out of compensatory education funds – we’ve gone down that road twice.

    What some school districts view as an “appropriate education” is a joke!

  6. Services like special education and speech therapy are supposed to be determined at the MDT after the child has been evaluated and either qualifies for the services or doesn’t, based on the state’s laws on the issue. Decisions about the services a child will receive should not be made by votes.
    Qualifying for speech is a numbers game with the state determining what those numbers are. During the 7 years that I was a special education teacher, voting was never part of the IEP process. The whole team may not agree on how the services will be provided. This should be figured out by discussing the problem, looking at research on best practices, and the individual child’s needs.

  7. We have shown up for IEP meetings where the district invited enough school staff to form a baseball team.

    When the “votes” were counted, the district’s 14 votes did not match our two votes.

    For example, the director of special education and the district’s attorney explained how the district could provide more services to my son if we withdrew him from the district. We never understood how this could be so we voted “no.”

    We felt that leaving him enrolled in our district and accepting the district’s previous offer to pay for private school would offer more educational benefit for my son.

    When he graduated from high school, he was #8 out of 424 seniors who were enrolled in the district.

  8. This is happening to us now. Before we even had our IEP, the school personnel decided that our child should be moved from the ASD center program (1 teacher, 2 para’s and 7 students, max) to a cross catagorical classroom (1 teacher, 1 para and 15 students max). Normally, this would be good news – more interaction with peers, etc. But because we live outside this school district, we will have to go back to our home district. Our child has been in this program because our district does not have an ASD center program. They do, however, have a cross-cat program. If our child does not succeed in cross-cat, he will not be able to return to this ASD center program (one of the best in the area) because the ASD class will be made up of “lower functioning” students, he will have limited opportunies for peer interaction so it won’t be a “good fit” for him. What to do?

  9. I am being fired for asking to be removed from a case in which the parents’ wishes in regard to several issues, including state tests, were “outvoted” by the other IEP team members. I also received a negative comment in my personnel file for sharing the Wrightslaw website with my administrator. When the educators trying to follow the law are fired for doing so, parents will be left with no other chioice than to learn it themselves and/or hire an advocate. Good luck to you all.

  10. Of course in my District they get around the restrict on not allowing majority vote by not voting, they simply do what they want without PWN or anything like that.

    Of course asking for PWN will get you some answer like: “We considered all possibilities and in our infinite wisdom…”

    I suggest that you do a blog on how to write a PWN letter so that the points that you want to get discussed end up being discussed, not the elephant in the room that the District will refuse to talk about.

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