All parents and/or guardians of a special needs child who has an Independent Education Plan (IEP) and is receiving services under the IDEA, has two very specific rights; 1) to fully participate in the IEP process and 2) the right to their student’s education records. In order for a parent to fully participate in the IEP process, it is imperative that they are provided with all of the necessary documentation about their student’s education. This includes documentation that speaks to the offer of FAPE, assessments, progress on goals and the accommodations necessary for the student to access their education.
Parental Participation via Documentation
In previous articles we have discussed the parent’s right to participate in all aspects of the IEP process. But for the sake of continuity, we will briefly review the topic herein. Parents have the right to be fully
informed regarding their student’s IEP, which includes copies of the IEP document and any and all assessments conducted by the District. Parents also have a right to regular progress reports on their student’s current goals. Furthermore, parents also have the right to be fully heard and to review all documentation pertaining to the various decisions being made about their student’s education, including placement, type and extent of services and the level of accommodations that might be necessary to help their student access their education. Lastly, it is the District’s responsibility to ensure that parents are given sufficient flexibility in scheduling meetings and/or receiving the appropriate documentation that will allow for them to participate in the decision-making process in a fully informed manner.
The second parental right that is pivotal to appropriate parental participation, is the right for a parent to read and inspect their student’s education records. When a parent makes a request for their student’s
cumulative education records, the District has five (5) days within which to produce it. While this is a procedural requirement, it sometimes takes a school District a bit longer to answer this request. As such, we often remind parents to allow for some leeway with this required timeframe. If a parent has not received any communication regarding the status of their education records request within 7-10 days of having submitted it, we often recommend the parent call the District and send a second written request. Once a second request is made, the majority of District’s will comply and provide the parent with their student’s education records.
The next step is for parents to go through the records they received to make sure there is nothing missing. For example, if the parent knows that a set of assessments were completed, but the assessments are not included in the original batch of records received, it is allowable and important that the parent make a request for what is missing. Oftentimes, if a parent is requesting the cumulative education records to be reviewed by an attorney, the attorney will notice that documents are missing and file the supplemental records request on the parent’s behalf.
If you are a parent and you are requesting your student’s education records for the purpose of determining if your student has been provided with a free and appropriate public education, a complete set of their educational records will be necessary before this determination can be properly made.