Yes or No? IEP Meetings Can Only Be 1 Hour Long

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teacher and classI’ve been a special ed teacher for 25 years.  I have questions about two things my Supervisor told me this year.

1. An IEP meeting cannot last more than one hour.  If the time runs over, I must stop the meeting and reschedule another one.

2.  No times were completed on the IEP, but I must sign it anyway.

You’ve been a sped teacher for 23 years so you’ve probably heard or been told things that you later learned were not accurate.

I’m glad you decided to check this out.

When you say the “times on the IEP were not complete,” I assume you are referring to duration of services.

Duration is the the amount of service time for special education, related services, and supplementary aids and services for the child.

The IEP is not complete until the information about services that will be provided is complete and correct.

The USDOE published a Model IEP form so people can see what should be included.

Model IEP Form

On page 3 of the Model IEP is a statement about the information that should be included for special ed, related services, and supplementary aids and services.

This information includes the date to begin, frequency, location, and duration

“The projected date for the beginning of the service3s and modifications and the anticipated frequency, location, and duration of special education and related services and supplementary aids and services and modifications and supports.  34 CFR Section 300.320(a)(7),  Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition, page 245-246.

One Hour IEP Meetings

There is nothing in the law about a team ending an IEP meeting after a specific or arbitrary amount of time.

If the team is making progress, they should continue if possible.

If the team isn’t making progress, it may be a good idea to take a short break.

These decisions should be based on what is good for the child, not for administrative convenience.


Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition,Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition

Legal Requirements for IEPs: 20 U.S.C. Section 1414(d), page 99.

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  1. Very helpful thread! Say one of these “very quick” IEPs does not finish, when does the district need to schedule a part 2? I know a parent could ask for another meeting and it has to be within 30 days, but is there any way to get the part 2, 3 etc of the meeting faster than 30 day? Making a quick meeting is a good way for the district to get out of offering what they need to?! Most sincere thanks

  2. Multiple IEP meetings can string out to several months before an agreement is reached. Is there a requirement as to how long this should take and what about services, and how long is a sta-put effective?

    • IDEA requires an IEP to be in place when the new school year begins. If an IEP is not in place when the school year begins, the child will be denied a FAPE. The IEP team should decide on the services they agree the child needs and write an IEP that provides those services. The IEP team should continue to meet to resolve differences and revise the IEP to reflect decisions in these areas.

      An IEP team should not wait to implement an IEP until the team resolves all areas of disagreement. As you say, negotiations can go on for months. During those months, the child would be damaged by the school’s failure to provide services.

  3. This post is about parent – school communication. Many of the ‘mtg notices’ these days generated by 2019 software now have mtg start and end time. They also include ‘purpose of meeting’. e.g., So if you go in to an IEP Amendment meeting to switch the speech tx frequency, don’t expect to discuss the OT/PT reports that you received in the mail that morning from the children’s hospital. Also, ask for an ‘IEP draft’ (new software marks it ‘DRAFT’) so you can prep comments/questions.

    I’m one of the 30 yrs+ special educators who started our ‘vocation’ in 1976. We spent time in 3-4 hour long IEP mtgs. The new ones coming into the schools, and yes, that includes ‘career switchers’ as well as provisional license speds are speaking up. If they’re in long mtgs, they quit. that’s why a shortage.

  4. I was told the same thing by the principal at my daughters school. She decided that IEP meetings are only 1 hours as she has better things to do. She also has decided my daughter’s teachers do not need to attend these meetings so that they can work with the other kids who are actually learning. I told the principal that I had other things I wanted to go over such as her social skills (Daughter has a hard time with peer relationships) Principal replied matter of factly that its not her problem that my daughter has issues relating to her peers. IEP’s are an hour long and that is what you get. She denies FAPE especially with LRE and inclusion issues.

    • If you have not done so, I suggest contacting the district special ed director in writing. Document what principal is telling you. If this situation is not addressed you can use the dispute resolution processes that IDEA gives parents. Your state parent training and information project can assist you in understanding these processes and your rights.

  5. The diagnostician stated, the ARD meeting is scheduled for two hours only. I am required to schedule another ARD meeting after the two hour mark. The school can never schedule another Tabled ARD in 10 days. The school district states, it must be mutually agreed time. I am always available in ten days or less, but the district is not. What can i do?

  6. There is no where in federal or state law that says how long an IEP meeting should be. The IEP meeting should be as long as it needs to be to ensure that child is being appropriately served and educated. How ever long that takes is how long that meeting should be. Its all about the children people not you being comfortable in an IEP meeting.

    • We were told that our meeting was from 7:45 until 8:10 as they are cracking down on times for the actual meeting and that the teacher needs to get back to class.

      • We were just told that we can have a meeting from 10:00-10:30 or 12:30-1:00pm and if more time than 30 min is needed we need to schedule another meeting.

        • The team wants you to accept a 30-minute slot because that’s how they set up their IEP review and revision meetings. They want to zip through the IEP review and revision process as fast as possible, even if this means they overlook some required issues. (See Chapters 4-11 in Wrightslaw: All About IEPs.

          IDEA requires the child’s IEP team to consider:
          • The child’s strengths;
          • The parents’ concerns for enhancing the child’s education;
          • Results of the initial evaluation or the most recent evaluation of the child; and
          • The child’s academic, developmental, and functional needs.

          You and the other team members need to discuss and make decisions about:
          • Your child’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance;
          Measurable IEP goals designed to meet all your child’s unique needs;
          • All special education services (including PE), related services, and supplementary aids and services the school will provide;
          • How the school plans to measure your child’s progress and how the school will advise you of your child’s progress;
          • The strategies the school will use to ensure that your child is involved in and making progress in the general education curriculum;
          • Any accommodations and/or modifications that need to be made to the general ed curriculum; and
          • Your child’s placement (where the child will receive services)

          The 30-minute IEP meeting system creates major problems.

          A TEAM of several individuals with different perspectives do not have time to discuss the required components of a new IEP and write a new IEP in 30 minutes.

          If the parent requests another meeting, it may take weeks (or longer) to gather the required team members together in one place before the school year ends.

          Putting this into perspective, typing this comment took more than 30 minutes and I’m a fast typist.

  7. Meetings will last until the information is completely shared and all members are have clarity. Meetings can be scheduled from 1 hour to all day or even multiple days in very complex, very litigious situation. Generally, we set 1-1.5 hours on the schedule for the meeting. If the meeting has not concluded, by that time, then another meeting will be set to finish. IDEA does not state how long a meeting lasts. It only states that all areas needs discussion, all team members need input, and parents must understand and be clear about any decisions being made.

  8. Adding another question or two to the “Is it true? category”.

    Is it true a Draft IEP should be ready to present to guardians, or a staffing, for review 7 days prior to the meeting? Or is there any legal requirement to present a draft before a meeting?

  9. I just had my sons IEP meeting and was rudely told by his administrator that this IEP meeting was only to go over compensatory hours owed to him and nothing else. That we couldn’t go past an hour since the teacher and service providers were missing out on servicing students.
    I of course said that I had already requested through the teacher for us to go over some current concerns that we needed to address. She objected and said that we only have an hour and its only for compensatory hours.
    My son has been refusing to go school and shared this already with his teacher. I wrote her a letter explaining exactly his behaviors and requested for us to discuss during IEP.
    I also had requested transportation to be discussed do to some district changes.
    Can she do this?

  10. LOL. Most all my IEP meeting last 60-90 minutes. By the time we finish talking and the parents share all kinds of things about their child, I cannot get out in less than 60 minutes. The exception is the occasional annual IEP I get to do (teaching at a residential facility) and the parents come in and we talk a few minutes and then I just let the student have time with their parents after we review new goals and discuss transition plans.

  11. What about students who transfer in to a district with an expired IEP? Their eligibility is current (within three years) but the IEP is not. Should the related service providers start servicing before a transfer-IEP meeting is held and a new, current, active IEP is developed?

    • I have always done the following:
      If the IEP is less than a year old, I complete a previous enrollment, note what changes will occur and schedule an IEP meeting within 30 days.
      If the IEP is more than a year old, I meet with parents and ask what has transpired in the last year that the student does not have a current IEP. Sometimes the student has been “signed out” of services by the previous school(?)
      I ask the student and parents if either feels their is a need for academic support and offer to do an academic evaluation–usually Woodcock-Johnson–to have some current data.
      In the meantime, we monitor the student in academic classes and have teachers complete weekly progress reports with the idea we will schedule a meeting within 30 school days to review progress and discuss services

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