Parent participation is the cornerstone of any IEP process or meeting or decision about a student’s IEP and special education experience. Without parental participation anything the team decides to implement can be questioned by the parent and consent can be refused. The most likely exception to the need for parents to participate is if the parent outright refuses to partake in the process despite the
District’s diligence in attempting to secure the parent’s participation. Therefore, it is imperative that a parent or guardian of the student be included and invited to fully participate in the decisions discussed
or made by the IEP team.

Parents have the right to participate in the following steps and/or procedures of their student’s special education program.

  • The right to receive and examine the student’s education records. Upon request the District must provide the parent with a complete copy of their student’s education records
  • The right to an offer of a free and appropriate public education
  • The right to the provision of a free and appropriate public education
  • The right to a copy of the student’s IEP
  • The right to participate in all IEP meetings and discuss and be provided with;
    • Any and all assessments administered by the District
    • Copies of all IEP’s
    • To discuss the student’s educational placement be it a general education classroom or a special day class or any other placement option being considered by the team
    • To provide input regarding the type and extent that related services will be
      provided for their student

    Any and all assessments administered by the District

These rights are most directly delivered to a parent via an IEP meeting. A parent must receive notice of any IEP meeting that the team has scheduled. If the parent cannot make the meeting the team must work with the parent to find a mutually convenient time for all participants. If a parent cannot be physically present the District must offer the parent additional options such a telephone or video conferencing. An IEP meeting cannot be an informal discussion or unscheduled conversations between parents and staff, teachers or service providers. Instead an IEP meeting must provide formal notice to the parent that the team is intending to meet to discuss the student’s special education program. The notice to the parent must contain the following information;

  • Provided to the parent with enough prior notice of the date of the meeting to allow the parent time to schedule their attendance
  • The date and time of the proposed meeting
  • The address for the location of the meeting which must be mutually convenient for the team and the parent
  • The participants expected to participate in the meeting
  • The purpose of the meeting

The District must also take the appropriate steps to ensure the parent understands the proceedings of the IEP meeting. This includes providing the parent with an interpreter in their native language and
allowing all parents to ask questions and/or make comments to help them understand the details of the program being offered to their student.

While an IEP meeting can be conducted in the parent’s absence, the IEP team must do all of the following before proceeding in the parent’s absence;

  • Ensure the parent has received notice of the IEP meeting
  • Provide more than one date and time for the meeting if the parent cannot make the date and time offered
  • Offer the parent alternative ways to participate in the meeting including teleconference and video conferencing options
  • Document their attempts to reach the parent and secure a mutually convenient time and place to hold the IEP meeting
  • Attempting to secure the parent’s participation must include more than one effort to reach the parent and secure their participation via telephone, email, letter and visits to
    the home or their place of employment. Each of these efforts must be recorded in detail.

Parental participation is a significant and necessary part of all student’s IEP proceedings. As such, it is imperative that the school district and the IEP team make a very diligent effort in securing the parent’s
attendance and participation at an IEP meeting.