Special Education and Regional Center Blog
Helping Parents Navigate the Special Education, the Regional Center, and IHSS program.
Can a District have an IEP without Parents?
A client called me last week and said that the district set an IEP for a certain date, but the parent was unavailable on that date. The parent asked the district to reschedule and the district said that was the only date they had available. The parent asked me what to do.
First, what does the law saw about parent participation?
Full and effective parental participation is an integral part of the IEP process. Parents must be given opportunities to participate in any decision-making meeting regarding their child’s special education program. Parents have the right to participate in IEP team meetings about the identification (eligibility), assessment, or educational placement of your child and other matters relating their child’s FAPE. (20 USC 1414[d] B–[d][D]; 34 CFR300.321; EC 56341[b], 56343[c])
The U.S. Supreme Court explained, the IDEA requires school districts to develop an IEP for each child with a disability, and in doing so they must ensure that parents play “a significant role in the IEP process.” Schaffer v. Weast, 546 U.S. 49, 53, 126 S. Ct. 528, 163 L. Ed. 2d 387 (2005); see also 20 U.S.C. §§ 1412(a)(4) and 1414(d). IDEA’s procedural mandates also require that the parent be allowed to meaningfully participate in the development of the IEP. Bd. of Education v. Rowley, 458 U.S. 176, 207-208 (1982).
A parent is a required and vital member of the IEP team. 20 U.S.C. § 1414(d)(1)(B)(i); Cal. Ed. Code §§ 56341(b)(1), 56342.5.
What type of Notice Must the District Give Parents?
The district must take steps to ensure that one or both of the parents of a child with a disability are present at each IEP Team meeting or are afforded the opportunity to participate, including notifying parents of the meeting early enough to ensure that they will have an opportunity to attend; and scheduling the meeting at a mutually agreed on time and place. 34 C.F.R. § 300.322(a).
The notice required must indicate the purpose, time, and location of the meeting and who will be in attendance; and (ii) Inform the parents of the provisions in the law relating to the participation of other individuals on the IEP Team who have knowledge or special expertise about the child. 34 C.F.R. § 300.322(b).
Can the district hold a meeting without parents?
If neither parent can attend an IEP Team meeting, the district must use other methods to ensure parent participation, including individual or conference telephone calls or other alternative methods. 34 C.F.R. § 300.322(c).
However, a meeting may be conducted without a parent in attendance if the district is unable to convince the parents that they should attend. In this case, the district must keep a record of its attempts to arrange a mutually agreed on time and place, such as (1) Detailed records of telephone calls made or attempted and the results of those calls; (2) Copies of correspondence sent to the parents and any responses received; and (3) Detailed records of visits made to the parent's home or place of employment and the results of those visits. 34 C.F.R. § 300.322(d).
Yes the district could theoretically hold an IEP meeting without a parent if they gave ample notice, tried to find another date, allowed for other methods for parent participation, and kept very detailed records. I only see an IEP happening if a parent does not act in good faith in scheduling an IEP or if a parent flatly refuses to attend an IEP.
However, in the opening situation when the parent was not available on the date the district selected, and the district saying that is the only date available, is not acceptable or allowable.
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