May a school district conduct an IEP meeting without the parent of the child with a disability in attendance?
Yes, but not unless the district makes a concerted effort to convince the parent to attend. Although the IDEA includes parents among the individuals who must participate in IEP team meetings, districts are not empowered by law to compel their presence. However, even when parents fail or refuse to cooperate, the school district is not relieved of its obligation to provide FAPE to publicly enrolled IDEA-eligible students
Thus, the 2006 regulations at 34 CFR 300.322(d) make it clear that school districts may conduct IEP meetings without a parent in attendance when the school district “is unable to convince the parents they should attend.”
It is not enough for the school district to give notice and simply accept a parent’s response that he will not be able to attend. Those actions are not the effort required under IDEA to “convince” the parent to attend.
Districts are required to keep a record of their attempts to arrange a mutually convenient meeting and convince parents to attend. Such a record can include detailed logs of telephone calls made or attempted and the results of those calls; copies of correspondence sent to parents and any responses received; and detailed records of visits made to the parents home or places of employment and the results of those visits.
34 CFR 300.322(d)(1)-(3).