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.
The Excusal Rule
The law includes two circumstances that allow a required team member to be excused from a meeting.
- If their area of expertise will not be discussed or modified during the meeting
- 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,
- you may agree with the school that the team member does not need to attend because their area will not be discussed
- 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 – https://www.wrightslaw.com/idea/comment/46661-46688.reg.320-328.ieps.pdf.
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.