At the end of the IEP meeting, parents are asked to sign the IEP. Many parents do not realize their signatures are not needed. The IEP goes into effect in ten days, with or without the parents’ consent.
Under the Individuals with Disability Education Act (IDEA), parental participation is required in the Individualized Education Program (IEP) process. Decisions should be made in a collaborative manner. In Missouri, parental consent is required for the evaluations and the initial IEP.
After the student’s first IEP, parental consent is no longer required to implement changes in the IEP. Since IEPs need to be updated at least once a year, parental decision-making power is greatly weakened after the initial document.
Frequently Asked Questions
What happens currently if a parent doesn’t agree with the IEP?
If a parent or guardian does not agree with the IEP, the parents can voice their concern, but the IEP will still go into place after 10 days. In order for the IEP to not go into effect, the parent would have to file due process. Due process is an expensive, long process usually involving lawyers for both parties. Often the student has to wait months for a decision to be made even though the educational needs are not being met. It is not a realistic option for the majority of families.
How would the requirement for parental consent strengthen the IEP process?
Parental consent creates an incentive for school district’s to better collaborate with the parents. Since parents or guardians must agree to the IEP, they have equal decision making power as other members of the IEP team. When schools and families collaborate and work together as equal participants, there are much better outcomes for the child. Parental consent helps put parent input on a level playing field with school staff. It will change parents from simply being attendees to being meaningful participants.
Do schools currently make decisions without the parents’ input?
No. The IEP team includes parents or guardians and they are allowed to contribute to the discussion. In fact there is an entire section of the IEP dedicated to the parents’ concerns. The ultimate decision making power belongs to the IEP team’s LEA representative. We have seen parents told that their child will not be allowed to return to his school but must attend a specializes school for students with disabilities. It is not uncommon for parents to have zero options in the restrictive placements of their children. The only option the parent has to stop this placement from happening is to file due process.
What other states require parental consent for changes to an IEP?
California, Delaware, Florida, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Virginia all have state statutes which require parental consent.