Many parents have questions about what to do when they are presented with an IEP that is not appropriate for their child.

You should advise the IEP team that you don’t think the IEP is appropriate, that it does not provide your child with enough help or the right kind of help. You should use facts to support your position (i.e., facts from an evaluation of your child from a private sector evaluator, graphs of your child’s test scores).

Be polite but firm.

Tip: Think how Miss Manners handles difficult situations and use this idea to guide you.

Your Consent to Implement Inappropriate IEP

When the team asks you to sign consent to the IEP, pick up a ball point pen and put the IEP on a hard table top. Write this statement on the IEP: “I consent to this IEP being implemented but I object to it for the reasons stated during the meeting.” Sign your name.

Do not be surprised if someone gets upset and claims that you are not allowed to write on the IEP because it is a legal document. This is not true – you can write on your child’s IEP (although the person who objects may not know this).

You are a member of the team and a participant in the IEP process. The law requires you to make your objections clear. The IEP is the best document to use when you need to make your objections clear.

If someone tries to stop you, continue to write. If someone tries to pull the IEP out of your hands, press down hard with your ballpoint pen and continue to write. If someone yanks the document away from you, continue to write as the IEP tears.  Stay calm. Take your copy of the IEP (whatever is left), stand, say “Thank you. I guess this meeting is over.” Extend your hand to shake theirs. Pick up your tape recorder and leave.

The IEP team has a problem. You have advised them in writing that their proposed program is not appropriate for your child. You also consented to their implementing the program so they should implement it.

When to Tape-Record Meetings – and Why

If you expect a dispute or disagreement, you should tape record meetings. The recorder should be out in the open. For advice about how to tape-record meetings, read the chapter about “Surviving School Meetings” in From Emotions to Advocacy, 2nd Edition.

Your Thank You Letter

When you get home, write a nice thank you letter to the head or leader of the IEP team. (See chapters about Letter Writing in From Emotions to Advocacy, 2nd Edition Re-state your position: You consented to the school implementing the IEP because something is better than nothing. You believe that an inadequate program is better than no program. However, you believe the proposed program is not appropriate for your child. Because something is better than nothing, you expect the district to implement the program — even though Mr. Jones ripped the IEP document.

After you mail this letter, transcribe your tape of the IEP meeting.

Under these circumstances, the district will want to avoid a due process hearing.

Rules of Adverse Assumptions

In From Emotions to Advocacy, 2nd Edition, you learn the Rules of Adverse Assumptions. You should assume that:

* A hearing will be necessary to resolve a problem,
* All school staff will testify against you,
* School staff’s recollections of the facts will be completely different from yours; and, most important,
* You cannot testify!

If you cannot testify, how can you tell your story? You tell your story with the tape, transcript of the meeting, your letter, and the ripped IEP. Good evidence.

This happened in more than one of my cases. In one case, the special ed supervisor yelled that the IEP was a “legal document,” the parent was not allowed to write on it, then ripped the IEP when the parent tried to write her objections on the IEP document.

That case settled quickly.

These are good strategies to use if you disagree with an IEP team and are dealing with a bully.

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