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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02/29/2012 11:16 am

does this also apply to 504 Plans??

02/29/2012 10:18 am

our school had an extra school psychologist show up unannounced to an IEP meeting.Then they changed his eligibility from Autism to EBD.This was done as an attempt to get him out of their school.I fought & he was able to remain in the same school.However it took them 2 1/2 years to get the EBD removed from his eligibility.If your school has switched psychologist without notifying you I would look at it as a red flag & ask what their motive is.I hate to say this, but, trust no one.I have learned to lose trust in special ed personnel who tell me they know what is best for my child.We as the parents, know what is truly best for our child.

02/29/2012 10:08 am

I am being told that my 8th grader has to attend the IEP meeting we are having to discuss him going into High School. I have always preferred to not have him in the meetings.Is it mandatory, as the school says, for him to attend? I have met his upcoming teacher & my motherly instincts are telling me to watch out.Especially since he is a football coach & not so nice tone of voice.My son is hypersensitive to tones of voices.I’m not sure how this teacher will be in the meeting & therefor not sure that my son should attend.

02/28/2012 11:03 pm

I am the IEP teacher in an offsite Transition program. We have no general ed in or near our building and none that would know our program or at students at this stage. I have been told I can routinely use the excusal form for Gen Ed and thus far, parents fully understand and agree. However, my question is when the student is working/training in the community though DVR and/or a job coach, why cannot that person sign as general ed? We have to put the minutes on the service matrix for the work training time down as general ed so why can’t these representatives count for the gen. ed person?They sign in other capacities, but I also don’t want to get caught up with ‘we always excuse the gen ed team member’ routinely issue….guidance please. Thanks

02/28/2012 8:34 pm

I was wondering if the school psycologist who has been in every meeting for 5 years can be substituted with one who you never have
met till a manifestation meeting. Then not be seen again. I feel the school did this so they could get the outcome they wanted which was to determine the incident was not a manifestation. I want to file for a due process hearing or maybe file a complaint. I was not told of the changeor knew of it till the meeting.

02/28/2012 6:09 pm

We have a situation where the administrator is late, can the parents agree to start meeting without them or do we have to wait for administrator?

02/28/2012 5:43 pm

I would chose the Principal unless he is representing the School District. I want both the Special and Regular Education Teacher in attendance. Also, I want someone who can interpret all the evaluations. As a Parent, I AM the most important person sitting at the table. Personally, I like when the Principal attends the meetings. I want the Principal to see how his staff is conducting IEP meetings and how they behave during these meetings. So actually, in my own opinion, all the above are important members of the team. I also want someone there who works with my child everyday! (besides me)

Ron S.
02/28/2012 4:14 pm

I make my own sign up sheet for the IEP meeting including both the sign in and sign out time and then send it as a letter of attachment to the IEP just to keep everyone honest. Do not forget to include the parents and anyone the parents bring with them.

02/28/2012 1:04 pm

My child has inclusion for subjects social studies and science. I just recently learned that she is not in that class for academics but more so for socialization. I agreed to have a SLP goal to be implemented for that classroom and now am having second thoughts. I received textbooks and workbooks for inclusion class but if my child is not in there for academics, then why issue textbooks? Can you help?

Sheila B.
02/28/2012 10:25 am

Federal law doesn’t require an IEP meeting be delayed if the parents won’t attend. Parents must be invited.

State law doesn’t require an IEP meeting be delayed if the parents won’t attend. It’s only recommended the parents be invited twice & cancel twice before having an IEP meeting w/o parents who won’t come.

Since we the parents have specifically requested this meeting go on without us, I propose that to delay it is to take away the right provided by Federal law that by omission does not require parents to attend IEP meetings.

To delay this IEP meeting by not accepting the parents’ clear wishes takes away from [Son’s] special education rights – by fact that the decisions made at such a meeting to further his education would be delayed & so result in loss of educational opportunity/deprivation of benefit.

02/28/2012 10:01 am

This month the special program coordinator suddenly announced she was leaving in 5 minutes and shortly after the SPED director announced she was leaving in 15 minutes. When she left, everyone else got up and left me sitting there.
The teacher is usually excused after the first 1/2 hour but they give her 5 minutes and then interrupt that conversation.
The speech teacher never attended the first IEP meeting and I wasn’t told until the meeting started. Then the Team chair chair announced that she’s a SLP although she’d never worked with the child and had no report.
This is a constant problem except for the time a DOE facilitator attended an IEP. Things were nice and orderly that day and no one got up to leave unless I signed the appropriate paper work.

02/28/2012 9:10 am

When an iep meeting is scheduled, shouldn’t all written reports be delivered to the parents at least five calendar days before the meetng, whether or not that team member will participate in the actual meeting in Maryland? Schools basically just have someone else at the meeting read/go over a report when the person who wrote it won’t be there for whatever reason. Parents are not asked about excusing anyone from the team. I”ve never seen or heard of a process to ask parents to excuse required members from attendance.

D. Orr
02/28/2012 9:07 am

We made several requests to have the aid who is assigned to our son and provides the majority of his interention to attend our IEP meeting. We were denied this request by both the Special Education Teacher and the School Principal. They opted instead for the aid to make a written statement. We felt that it was very important that the person providing the intervention be in attendance. (We have never met this person.) We did not have any particular complaints towards this individual — we just felt that it was extremely important that we communicated face-to-face. We offered to reqrrange our schedules and attend at any time that was convenient for the aid to attend but our requests were denied.

Doe the school have the authority to disregard our request?

Thank you!

11/27/2011 5:59 pm

I have a question. Earlier this year we went to my child’s IEP meeting. The only people present at the meeting were the parents, two intervention specialists and three of my child’s teachers. No district representative attended. We signed the IEP and got an official copy from the school two weeks later.

A friend told me that the school has IEP meetings without a principal or district representative present, and then has the principal sign the IEP the next day. I went back and checked my child’s IEP .. lo and behold, there was the principal’s signature! She did not attend the meeting! They did the same thing with another IEP one year ago. A teacher did not attend because she could not get a substitute to cover for her, and when I received the IEP, she had signed it.

Can I do anything about this?

Sharon L.
11/22/2011 9:01 pm

Tim – Yes they have this right. Perhaps another teacher can take her place or the special ed director can take her place. You can bring a digital tape recorder to the meeting and tell the team you are doing so. This often helps keep people more honest and more professional acting. Maybe this could be an alternative.

11/22/2011 6:00 pm

We are having an IEP mtg. for a student in our high school. She has asked that a staff member of Sp.Ed not attend the meeting as she is uncomfortable with her presence at the meeting. Does the student have this right. Pls answer soon…
Thanks Tim

07/08/2010 12:23 pm

I’m not sure if it’s the absolute correct answer, but it happened to me ONCE. So now I make sure I am the last person to sign the attendance form. I then take the liberty to draw a line through each area where there was no one present (including the duplicate signature place for me and where my son would sign. Since no one EVER signs as the school district representative (sometimes she is there but signs as her other title) I make a notation in my notes of the same & draw a line through the space.

If they are not there then they cannot sign, the better evidence I have is that I now tape the meetings. If I end up in due process, mediation or court then they can explain to the ALJ how they managed to sign attendance when they were not present.

10/02/2019 8:21 am
Reply to  Gina V


07/08/2010 9:23 am

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.

07/04/2010 11:24 am

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?

Christine T
06/30/2010 9:51 am

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.

06/30/2010 9:47 am

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.

06/29/2010 10:36 pm

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.

06/29/2010 6:07 pm

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?

06/29/2010 3:56 pm

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.

06/29/2010 3:46 pm

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 ?

06/29/2010 11:45 am

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!

06/29/2010 11:15 am

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.

06/29/2010 7:19 am

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

05/23/2010 4:57 pm

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.

04/15/2010 2:40 pm

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!

04/14/2010 12:05 pm

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.

04/14/2010 11:54 am

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?

04/13/2010 10:18 pm

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?

04/13/2010 8:14 pm

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?

04/13/2010 11:58 am

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!!!

04/13/2010 9:14 am

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.

04/11/2010 1:12 am

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.

04/08/2010 9:01 pm

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.

04/08/2010 3:09 pm

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”.

Jan A.
04/08/2010 2:39 pm

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.