There are many thoughts and beliefs about Individualized Education Program (IEPs) that have no basis in the law. Some of these myths follow:
School staff often pressure parents to sign the IEP at the meeting. There is nothing in the law saying that parents must sign at the IEP meeting. A parent can take the IEP home and read it carefully before signing. Sometimes the written IEP will differ from what was talked about at the meeting. There is no rush to sign and parents should take as much time as reasonably necessary to review and understand the IEP before signing it. Ignore any threats from staff.
THE SCHOOL IS NOT ENTITLED TO ANY PERSONAL INFORMATION
There is no law or anything in the IDEA that allows the school to demand social security numbers, immigration status or private insurance information. Parents can refuse to provide any of that type of information and have no worry about repercussions from the school staff.
PARENTS CAN CONSENT TO SOME PARTS OF THE IEP, BUT NOT ALL OF THE IEP
Sometimes parents will agree with portions of the IEP, but not others. The law is very clear that parents can provide consent to some of the IEP but not others. There is no rule that the parent must agree to the entire IEP.
PARENTS CAN WRITE ANYTHING THEY WANT INTO THE IEP
The IEP is always given to the family as a form filled out by the school. There is nothing preventing the family from writing an additional page, or crossing out some of the preprinted words they don’t agree with and write out what they agree and disagree with.
THE IEP MUST BE UNDERSTANDABLE
The school should provide a translator at the IEP and a written copy of the IEP in the parents’ native language. The translated IEP should be provided promptly to the family and not months later, and certainly not only after the family signs the IEP.
THE SCHOOL CANNOT CHANGE THE IEP WITHOUT CONSENT FROM THE PARENTS
Some parents fear the school will make changes to their child’s IEP without consent. The law does not allow this. The law is also clear that while there is a dispute pending about the IEP, the child must stay put in the current placement, unless the parent agrees to the change. The school does not have the unilateral right to change the IEP without parental consent. Rarely, a school will file for due process to force a change to the IEP. The school must follow the last agreed upon IEP until the due process claim is final, which can sometimes take years if there is an appeal.
PARENTS ARE CENTRAL PLAYERS OF THE IEP
Parents represent the best interests of their child in the IEP developmental process. They provide information about the child critical to developing a comprehensive IEP, which only they are in a position to know. Schools are obligated to consider parents’ concerns. School should not hold the IEP meeting after the parent asks it to be rescheduled so they can attend.