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PARENT PARTICIPATION IN IEP PROCESSES

Parent Involvement in IEP Meetings

Parent participation and involvement are essential throughout all special education processes. AEA and LEA staff must seek active parent participation and encourage parents/families to participate at all decision points. In order to ensure parent participation, parents/families must be given the opportunity to participate in any meeting discussing the evaluation, identification, educational placement, and the free, appropriate public education (FAPE) of their learner with a disability.

Notifying Parents of IEP Meetings

To ensure the parents and family of a child with a disability are present at an IEP team meeting:

  • All IEP team meetings should be scheduled at a mutually agreeable time and place for the parents/family, the district, and AEA.
  • Parents/families should be provided with notice of an IEP team meeting early enough to afford them the opportunity to attend the meeting.

The meeting notice must provide the following information:

  • Purpose of the meeting (e.g. to discuss the results of a full and individual evaluation or the development of an initial, annual, reevaluation, amended or exit IEP, etc.)
  • Time and location of the meeting
  • Who will be attending the meeting (name and position)
  • Information about the parents’ right to include other individuals who have the knowledge or special expertise about the child

Typically, districts and AEAs will utilize the Meeting Notice Form available within the IEP system to notify parents/families of IEP meetings.  However, other methods and formats to inform parents/families of an IEP meeting may be used as long as all required components are included.

NOTES:

  • An IEP meeting notice for an Initial IEP for a child transitioning from Early ACCESS (Early Intervention) must indicate that the Early ACCESS Service Coordinator and/or other IFSP team members will be present at the parent’s request.
  • An IEP meeting notice for a student age 14 and older (or younger if appropriate) must:
    • Indicate that one of the purposes of the meeting will be the consideration of the postsecondary goals and transition services for the student
    • Indicate the student is invited to attend
    • Identify and list any other agency that will be invited to send a representative to support transition planning

Ensuring Parent Participation

Making Sufficient Attempts to Ensure Parent Participation

If the parent/family cannot attend the first scheduled meeting, the IEP team should consider other methods to ensure parent participation and/or schedule a second meeting. When rescheduling an IEP meeting, the notification must be given early enough to allow parents/family the opportunity to attend the meeting.

If one or both parents are unable to physically attend an IEP meeting, the district and AEA may use other methods to ensure parent participation. Other methods to allow for parent/family participation may include conference calls or virtual meetings (e.g. FaceTime, electronic meeting platforms such as Skype or Zoom).

Parent Agreement to Not Attend Meetings

Occasionally, after an agreed-upon meeting time and place has been established, parents will encounter a situation that prevents their attendance (family emergency, change in work schedule, illness, etc.). Parents may agree that the meeting can be held without their physical presence or participation through other means. In these situations, the meeting may be held without the parents even if this is the first attempt to schedule a meeting.

IEP Meetings without Parent Participation

A meeting may be conducted without a parent/family in attendance if the public agency is unable to engage the participation of the parent(s).

In deciding whether to proceed without parental involvement (parents present, phone conferencing, etc.) or to make additional attempts to schedule a meeting, the district and/or AEA must consider:

  • The importance of the parents’ involvement in any and all decision making about their child
  • Recent opportunities (e.g., parent conferences, phone calls, written correspondence) to obtain parent input and to discuss potential IEP changes
  • The urgency of any IEP changes that are to be considered
  • The review date of the IEP

If a meeting is held without a parent, the district and AEA must keep a record and document in the IEP all attempts to arrange a mutually agreed upon time and place including:

  • Detailed records of telephone calls made or attempted and the results of those calls
  • Copies of correspondence sent to the parents and any responses received
  • Detailed records of visits made to the parent’s home or place of employment and the results of those visits

The IEP team shall provide the parents with a Prior Written Notice (PWN) to communicate any changes in the evaluation, identification, educational placement, and FAPE of their student with a disability.

Clarification of What Constitutes a "Meeting"

It is important to note that there are circumstances when parents/families and LEA and/or AEA staff may meet which are not considered to be a formal “meeting” per IDEA and state regulations.  A formal meeting notice is not necessary for such conversations.

Examples:

  • Informal or unscheduled conversations involving LEA and/or AEA staff
  • Conversations on issues such as teaching methodology, lesson plans, or coordination of service provision
  • Any preparatory activities that LEA and/or AEA staff engage in to develop a proposal or response to a parent/family proposal that will be discussed at a later meeting

 

Use of Parent’s Native Language and Interpreters

Meaningful parent participation in special education processes and decision making is dependent upon effective communication. Therefore, AEAs and LEAs must take whatever action is necessary to ensure that the parent(s) understands the proceedings of IEP team meetings, including arranging for an interpreter for parent(s) with deafness or whose native language is not English.

The primary role of interpreters and translators is to be a conduit for oral and written communication between individuals who have different communication methods (i.e. sign language) and English-speaking personnel. An interpreter conveys information from one language orally while a translator conveys information in writing.

IEP teams may consider the use of translated documents to support the parent’s understanding of the IEP and decisions of the IEP team. It is essential the IEP team check the parent’s understanding and provide clarification in a manner that ensures meaningful participation.

Copies of translated documents (PWN, Consents, IEP forms, and Procedural Safeguards Manual for Parents) are available in Resources.

Copies of IEP Documents

School districts and AEAs must provide parents with a copy of their child’s IEP at no cost to them.  Parents shall be provided a copy of each IEP written for their students.  

In the process of planning for an IEP meeting, a “draft” copy of the IEP may be developed.  If a “draft” IEP is prepared and shared with IEP team members, at the outset of the meeting, the district and AEA staff must clearly communicate that the proposals in the “draft” are only recommendations for review and discussion with all IEP team members.

Parent Participation Resources

View additional information regarding parent participation in our Resources.