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A Parent Wants to Delay Her Child's IEP Until Fall:
Will the School Be in Compliance if We Grant her Request?
by Pam & Pete Wright

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A teacher writes: A parent asked to delay the IEP until Fall. Will the school be in compliance if we agree to her request?

worried anxious woman looking down

From Wrightslaw: We have a few questions...

Most state departments of ed are recommending that school staff document meeting problems. But your question, "Will the school be in compliance if we grant her request" is not the most important question you need to answer right now.

Millions of people have been laid off and are struggling to survive. Millions more are hanging on by a thread. Lives have been disrupted in ways we could not imagine a month or two ago. Most of us are having difficulty processing the sudden changes in our lives. We don't know what to expect.

Schools closed to protect children, families and school personnel from the danger of COVID-19. Principals, teachers and related service providers need to recognize another invisible danger -- if you don't maintain frequent contact and provide emotional support and practical assistance to families during this crisis, one outcome is likely to be loss of trust and major parent-school problems in the future.

A crisis can bring opportunities if we are wise enough to pay attention and take action. To avoid negative outcomes, the people who are involved in educating children with disabilities must be genuinely concerned about your children and their families. You must be proactive. You need to ask questions (and get answers) like these:

Why does this parent want to delay the IEP until Fall? Do you know? Does anyone on the team know why she wants to delay the IEP?

Is she overwhelmed with the stresses and pressures of daily life? Does she have more urgent needs than attending a remote meeting to develop an IEP that, from her perspective, may never be implemented?

Does she know she doesn’t have to attend an unpleasant face-to-face IEP meeting? Does she know the IEP team can have the meeting by video conferencing or conference phone calls?

Does she understand that her child's IEP team, which includes her, can develop a written document to amend or modify her child’s current IEP without having the entire team meet?

As a special educator, you know the law says an IEP shall be in place for each child with a disability at the beginning of the school year. Does the parent know this?

“At the beginning of each school year, each public agency must have in effect, for each child with a disability within its jurisdiction, an IEP …” 20 USC 1414(d)(2); 34 CFR 300.323 (see page 102 and page 248 in Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition)

This is April. A new school year may begin in August or early September.

Some states and school districts are making plans about how to manage the impact of no education on their most vulnerable students (i.e., children with disabilities, homeless kids, free lunch kids, Dreamers, etc). Some districts are proposing to have school during at least part of the summer. Others plan to start the school year earlier.

Social distancing requirements will ease up after testing / tracking / mitigation measures of COVID-19 are firmly in place.

This parent may be more receptive to an IEP meeting after COVID-19 is under control in her community.

A member of the child’s team needs to contact this parent often to offer emotional support and practical assistance. The contact person needs to ask other questions that demonstrate a genuine concern for the parent and her children.

What are her children doing during the day?

If the school is offering online instruction, have her children been able to access educational content? What problems are they having with online education?

How is she managing?

If she works outside the home, does she have a reliable person to watch the children?

Is her job secure? Has she been laid off? Is she getting unemployment benefits yet?

Describe the help available through the school, including free or reduced price meals.

Ask if there is a good time to call.

Touch base often.

Encourage her to Stay Safe. You need to Stay Safe too.


Created: 04/16/20
Revised: 00/00/00

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