Recall the Law

The IEP must include “a statement of the program modifications or supports for school personnel that will be provided to enable the child— (i) To advance appropriately toward attaining the annual goals;  (ii) To be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum in accordance with paragraph (a)(1) of this section, and to participate in extracurricular and other nonacademic activities;”  300.320(a)(4)

“(a) Development of IEP—(1) General.  In developing each child’s IEP, the IEP Team must consider—  … (ii) The concerns of the parents for enhancing the education of their child;” 300.324(a)(ii)

“Agreement. (i) In making changes to a child’s IEP after the annual IEP Team meeting for a school year, the parent of a child with a disability and the public agency may agree not to convene an IEP Team meeting for the purposes of making those changes, and instead may develop a written document to amend or modify the child’s current IEP.  (ii) If changes are made to the child’s IEP in accordance with paragraph (a)(4)(i) of this section, the public agency must ensure that the child’s IEP Team is informed of those changes.”  300.324(a)(4)

“Amendments. Changes to the IEP may be made either by the entire IEP Team at an IEP Team meeting, or as provided in paragraph (a)(4) of this section, by amending the IEP rather than by redrafting the entire IEP.  Upon request, a parent must be provided with a revised copy of the IEP with the amendments incorporated.”  300.324(a)(6)

“Review and revision of IEPs—(1) General. Each public agency must ensure that, … the IEP Team— (i) Reviews the child’s IEP periodically, but not less than annually, to determine whether the annual goals for the child are being achieved; and (ii) Revises the IEP, as appropriate, to address—  (A) Any lack of expected progress toward the annual goals described in § 300.320(a)(2), and in the general education curriculum, if appropriate; (B) The results of any reevaluation conducted under § 300.303; …  (D) The child’s anticipated needs; or (E) Other matters.”  300.324(b)

“(e)  Upon receipt of a written request for an ARD committee meeting from a parent, the school district must:  (1) schedule and convene a meeting in accordance with the procedures in subsection (d) of this section; or (2) within five school days, provide the parent with written notice explaining why the district refuses to convene a meeting.”  TAC 89.1050(e)

The Response

A key concept of IDEA is parents’ involvement in the development of their child’s IEP.  The evaluation team and the IEP team are to obtain information and input from the parent.  This includes the “concerns of the parents for enhancing the education of their child.”

IDEA regulations address “amending”, “review and revision” of IEPs, and agreement.  These are to be available “as appropriate”.  The parent as a member of the team and a key player in the process has the right to request a meeting to address a lack of progress toward annual goals, the child’s anticipated needs or “Other matters”.  This includes the parents’ concerns for “enhancing the education of their child.”  Providing documentation of lack of progress or needs not being addressed can support a parent’s request.

Texas regulations have been changed to say that when the school receives a written request for an ARD/IEP meeting, they can agree to schedule a meeting or give the parent “written notice of why they are refusing” to hold a meeting.  This change allows schools to limit/reduce the number of ARD/IEP meetings.  Some schools will do this.  So it becomes even more important to make the most of every meeting that is held.  Put your concerns, comments, requests, etc. in writing to share with the team.  Schools do not like long ARD/IEP meetings, especially with “difficult” parents or those unwilling to compromise.  Try not to be one of these.  Outside observers (TEA, hearing officers, OCR, etc.) often look to see what party seems to be the most reasonable.  It might help to suggest a length for the meeting and/or to hold the meeting over two days.

In some cases a district might be more willing to use the amendment/agreement process rather than hold an ARD/IEP meeting.  It is important to learn what topics/issues the school considers appropriate for the amendment process.  Parent concerns and requests can also be addressed through the mediation process, if the district will agree to participate.  The parent can ask the school if they will offer a facilitated IEP meeting.

Because of the new rule, the option of the “10 day rule” recess, becomes more important.  Especially, if there is a concern that requests for additional meetings will be turned down.  New rules allow the recess to be longer than 10 school days, if both parties agree.  The day and time can now be determined after the current meeting.

In any meetings to address the IEP and parent concerns, it is important for the parent to have as much “objective” data as possible.  This can be by observations by the parents and others, data, materials and information provided by the school, and independent evaluations obtained by the parent.  Analysis of evaluations and statewide assessments may document limited progress that the child has made in mastering the general curriculum.  (See Wrightslaw website.)  It is also important to remember that the IEP is to be designed to help the child advance toward obtaining their annual goals and be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum.  Texas law says that struggling students and those at risk of dropping out are to receive accelerated and intensive instruction.

It is appropriate to request that the IEP team agree to meet X times during the school year to review general progress or progress of a new strategy/program or a specific area.  If the team puts this into the minutes or document, then it must occur.  It may be necessary to remind the school to set the meeting before it is due, rather than count on them to remember.

A Wrightslaw newsletter discusses a parent’s ability to request that an IEP be changed at any time and what problems trigger an IEP meeting to review and revise your child’s IEP.  It also says that there is no federal regulation giving a “time limit” for requesting a revision.  This item is at:

Possible Comments for Parents Make to the School

“I am requesting an IEP meeting to address my concerns on (list)”

“I am requesting an agreement/amendment meeting to address (list)”

“I am requesting a copy of the school’s procedures for an agreement/amendment meeting.”

“I am requesting that we (the IEP team) agree to meet again (when) to review (list)?”

“We can set a limit of (time) for this meeting.”

“Since I am in disagreement with some of the recommendations made, I am requesting that another meeting be held within X school days.”

“Since my request for an IEP meeting has been declined, I am requesting that an IEP meeting held in X months, and/or information on how to appeal this decision.”

This article was written by Chuck Noe, PRN Education Specialist.