Parent Participation

IDEA includes a section called Procedural Safeguards. These safeguards are designed to protect the rights of parents and their child, and provide a way to resolve disputes. The right to participate in meetings is one of the most important protections.

What meetings do parents participate in?

Parents have the right to participate in meetings with respect to

  • their child’s identification,
  • their child’s evaluation,
  • their child’s educational placement, and
  • provision of FAPE (free appropriate public education) to their child.

This includes the right to participate in meetings to develop, review, or revise their child’s individualized education program (IEP). Parents also have the right to be part of:

  • any group that determines if the child is a “child with a disability” and, for that reason, is eligible to receive special education and related services under IDEA
  • the IEP team (which develops, reviews, and revises the IEP of their child)
  • any group that makes decisions related to the educational placement of their child

Who else is on the IEP Team?

IDEA requires a team of school staff and the parent of the student work together to develop the IEP. There are multiple teams, team members, and roles that contribute to the development of a student’s plan.

When does the school have to notify parents of meetings?

The school must notify parents about upcoming meetings early enough to make sure parents have the opportunity to attend. It must also schedule the meeting at a mutually agreed on time and place.

When the school notifies parents of an upcoming meeting, it must:

  • indicate the purpose, time, and place of the meeting;
  • indicate who will be attending the meeting; and
  • inform parents of IDEA’s provisions regarding the participation of others on the IEP team who have knowledge or special expertise about the child.

A “meeting” does not include:

  • informal or unscheduled conversations that involve school personnel;
  • conversations on topics such as teaching methodology, lesson plans, or the coordination of service provision; or
  • preparatory activities that school personnel engage in to develop a proposal or response to a parent proposal that will be discussed at a later meeting.

What if neither parent can attend?

If neither parent can attend the IEP team meeting, the school must use other methods to ensure their participation, including individual telephone calls or conference calls.

What if there are language barriers?

School systems must take the necessary steps to give parents the opportunity to understand the proceedings at an IEP team meeting. This includes arranging for an interpreter for parents with deafness or whose native language is other than English.

  • Is an Interpreter Needed? This document explains the “native language” requirement for parent participation in the IEP process.

More questions?

Contact Michigan Alliance for Families at info@michiganallianceforfamilies.org

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