IEP 101: Parental Participation and Procedural Safeguards

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) provides procedural safeguards to protect the rights of children with disabilities and their parents while also ensuring that there are legal guidelines for families and districts when disagreements do occur. Here is what you need to know about your rights under IDEA.

Under the procedural safeguards, parents have the right to:

  • Receive a complete explanation of the procedural safeguards under IDEA as well as the state’s procedures for presenting complaints. Parents must be provided with this document when:
    • they request a copy
    • the first time the child is referred for a special education assessment
    • each time the child is given an assessment plan
    • the first state or due process complaint is received in a school year
    • a decision is made that constitutes a change of placement.
  • Participate in all meetings related to the identification, assessment, and placement of their child as well as the provision of FAPE. The school must also notify parents with enough time to give them the opportunity to attend meetings.
  • Examine all educational records (this also includes protecting personally identifiable information, identifying who has access to the child’s records, and the right to amend or correct any information that is incorrect or misleading, or that violates a child’s rights).
  • Request an Independent Educational Evaluation for their child if they disagree with the school district’s assessment.
  • Receive prior written notice when the school district proposes or refutes a change in the identification, assessment, or placement of a child, or the provision of FAPE. The district must inform parents about proposed assessments within 15 days of receiving a written request for one.
  • Provide or refuse consent. Under IDEA, “consent” means that the parent has been informed of all relevant information and understands and agrees to the information in writing. There are two ways to refuse to give informed written consent: when you don’t respond to the school’s request for your consent, or when you explicitly refuse to give your written consent.
  • Disagree with decisions the school makes, including the identification of the child as a child with a disability, the child’s assessments and educational placement, and the special education and related services the school provides to the child.
    • The law also includes several ways to resolve disputes, including mediation, a resolution session, due process hearings, or a state complaint.
    • Parents can also contact their state’s Parent Training and Information Center (PTI) or Family Empowerment Center. These were created to facilitate collaboration between parents and educators to improve the educational system. Contact information for these organizations can be found here.

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