Parents of special needs children have rights. It is that simple. As a parent of a student with an individualized education plan, you have rights which allow you to be fully informed of your student’s special education plan, any changes bein proposed or made to your child’s plan, any assessments that are going to be administered to you student and a timely response to any request that you might make on your student’s behalf. And, most importantly, if you disagree with any proposal made by the District to change or alter your student’s IEP, you have the right to be fully heard by means of Due Process.

While the law only provides that a parent receives their Procedural Safeguard one time per year, most District’s provide parents with a copy of their Procedural Safeguards at the convening of any IEP
meeting. In addition, it is very likely that your District has a copy of the Parental Procedural Safeguards on their website for parents to access at any time they so choose.

However, there are other times when a District is mandated to provide parents with a copy of their Procedural Safeguard. These times include;

  • Upon the District’s initial referral of a student for special education services
  • When a parent initially requests a special education assessment for their student
  • Upon receipt of a parent filed State Complaint with their State Education Agency (most commonly referred to as a Compliance Complaint to the California Department of Education)
  • Upon receipt of a filed Due Process Complaint by either the parent or the District
  • In accordance with any discipline procedures that are occurring that involve a student with a disability
  • Upon parental request

For those who have received a copy of their Procedural Safeguards, they can attest to the fact that it is a document of significant length. It can be very tempting to take your copy and set it aside and never actually read it. However, we recommend that all parents carefully read through the Procedural Safeguards one time per year.

Contents of the Procedural Safeguards

The Procedural Safeguards document is of significant length because it must include an explanation of all of the procedural safeguards available to a parent of a student with special needs. The areas of explanation include a parent’s rights with regard to;

  • Independent Educational Evaluations
  • Prior Written Notice
  • Parental Consent
  • Access to Education Records
  • The right to file a State Complaint or a Due Process Complaint and the time periods and requirements for successfully filing either or both
  • The available opportunities for either type of Complaint to be resolved
  • An explanation of the difference between filing a State Complaint verses filing a Due Process Complaint
  • The availability of mediation
  • The placement the student will be entitled to while the parent and the District work out their differences (commonly known as the student’s “stay put” placement)
  • Procedures for interim student placement, if the need be
  • The requirements that a parent must meet if they are deciding to unilaterally place a student in a non-public or private school without the Districts agreement
  • The process of participating in a Due Process Hearing
  • The requirements that must be met by a parent participating in a Due Process Hearing
  • The process of appealing a decision by an administrative law judge subsequent to a Due Process Hearing
  • The right to file a civil action
  • Payment of attorney fees

Hence, the Procedural Safeguard document contains a wealth of information that all parents who have a student with special education needs, should be fully aware of. Again, we strongly encourage parents to take the time to review their Procedural Safeguards and use them wisely.