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.