If your child has an IEP and you disagree with it, it can be a frustrating and stressful problem to tackle as a parent. Knowing more about the IEP process can help you determine what actions to take and what you can do if you don’t agree with your child’s plan.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) guides the IEP process and requires that parent input be part of the IEP process. The parent is recognized as an active member of the IEP team and the IEP is co-created by both the parents and the IEP team from the school district.
That means that your agreement with the IEP is a critical part of the process. If you don’t agree with your child’s IEP, there are a number of options you can consider.
When everyone on the IEP team (including the school and the child’s parents) agrees with the final document, everyone involved signs it and it becomes the plan for your child’s special education program for the entire academic year. But what happens when you don’t agree with your child’s IEP results?
What Happens When Schools and Parents Disagree?
There are several reasons why you might disagree with your child’s IEP results, including:
- the identification of your child as a “child with a disability”
- your child’s evaluation and current baseline
- your child’s educational placement and goals
- the special education services that the school is planning to provide
When the parents and school disagree, the IDEA specifies steps that can be taken to reach an agreement. Those steps include:
- Due process hearing
If the testing results don’t seem correct, or if you disagree with the goals for your child’s education, you have the right to disagree and the ability to take further steps to resolve these issues.
IDEA states that you have the right to obtain an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) of your child at public expense if you disagree with your school district’s special education evaluation results.
What Parents Should Do When They Disagree With The IEP Results
The IEP does not become final until the parent and the school sign it. When you sign the IEP, you indicate your agreement with the plan, and the services for your child can begin at that point.
Here’s what you can do if you disagree with the IEP plan.
- Do not sign the IEP during the meeting. Let the team know that this is a significant decision, and you will need time to review the plan before signing.
- Consult with an IEP advocate to help you understand all of the options. The advocate can explain whether verbally rejecting the plan before formally rejecting it should be considered so that the team can develop and present other options.
- If you disagree with the IEP, you must make a formal rejection in writing on the IEP form. You will sign and date the section with the “I do not accept the educational program” clause. You may sign the section indicating that you attended the meeting, but you are not giving your permission to implement the IEP. Remember, you can take the IEP home with you to give it more consideration and may sign and return it when you are ready.
- After you have taken the time to review the proposed IEP, if you agree with some parts of the IEP and disagree with other elements, you may sign the IEP and include a statement of exceptions in the space provided for disagreements. The school can begin instruction with the agreed-upon parts of the IEP but won’t implement the disagreed upon details until the issue gets resolved. Keep a complete copy of the rejected IEP for your records.
- The next step will be to file a complaint or request a due process hearing. After the formal rejection is filed, one of the school representatives will contact you to work out a compromise. Mediation may be recommended.
At the IEP Meeting
If you are concerned that you might have objections to the proposals that the IEP team will recommend, plan to bring an advocate with you to the meeting. The IDEA law allows you to obtain an advocate to speak on your behalf. The discussions at IEP meetings can be emotionally difficult so having an objective advocate to explain your concerns, understand the proposals, and know what questions to ask the team can be very helpful.
- Let the team know you will be recording the meeting. Ask each team member present to state their name and relationship to the process.
- Let the team know all your concerns and objections during the meeting using a polite tone. Be sure that your concerns and objections are added to the IEP and written into the IEP meeting notes.
- Let the team know that you will be taking the proposed IEP document home for further consideration and will not be signing it during the meeting.
- Write a letter to the school after the IEP meeting. State your specific objections.
- Make an appointment to discuss your letter with the school psychologist, caseload manager, or special education teacher in charge of the IEP process. During this meeting, express your concerns and find out what the school might be able to change to better accommodate your child’s needs. You can request to hold the meeting at the district office, and that one of the district’s assistant superintendents, directors, or program managers attend the meeting.
- Under the ‘Stay Put’ section of the IDEA law, you have the right for your child to remain in their current placement until issues are resolved.
IEP Disagreement Options to Consider
There are a number of options to consider when you disagree with your child’s IEP. Some of the best places to start are with your child’s files, resources you can request from your school, and additional resources outside of your school.
Review Your Child’s Records
Ask to review all of your child’s records. Ask to review the cumulative file that is kept at the school and all documents and testing results located in the psychologist’s files.
Use The Local PTI
Find the Parent Training and Information Center (PTI) in your state. PTIs are part of the IDEA law to provide resources for parents about the state’s special education policies, processes, and steps to take when there’s a disagreement with the school.
The PTI Center will be able to help you understand and decide on the best options for moving forward. They can give you information about the possibilities for mediation, due process complaints and hearings, and other opportunities for you to consider.
Attend a Community Advisory Committee Meeting
Ask if your school district has a special education Community Advisory Committee (CAC). If so, plan to attend a meeting. CAC meetings are open to everyone in the community and offer an opportunity to learn more about the IEP process in your district and discover resources for IEP parent support. The district website may have this information available.
Request an IEE
You can also request an outside evaluation by a psychologist not related to the school district, called an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE). The IDEA law gives you the right to request this and requires the school district to pay for the evaluation. Once the IEE is complete, you can request another IEP to discuss the results and work on a plan that takes those results into account.
Hardy Brain Training Can Help Your Child Succeed In School
The IEP is a process that creates a plan to help your child learn academic information so they can move toward meeting state academic standards. The goal of the IEP is not to correct or improve the causes of your child’s learning struggles. However, the testing results of the IEP can be used to design a plan that addresses the underlying causes of why your child is struggling to learn at the same pace as their peers.
Hardy Brain Training offers personalized learning programs designed to improve the cognitive and processing skills that make learning easy, so your child can make progress faster. We can also work with your child’s school and your child’s special education advocate to create a learning program that enhances your child’s IEP goals while simultaneously improving cognitive and processing skills to build a strong learning foundation.
Contact us today to learn more about if Hardy Brain Training is a good fit for you and your child, and, as an additional resource to help, we also have a free online diagnostic quiz to help identify the key areas where your child may be struggling.