IEP Meetings: Notice Matters

Mary Margaret Gay & Rachel Roberts - Gay Jones & Kuhn PLLC

Danita Munday - Remain Calm Education Consulting, LLC

March 24, 2021

It is that time of the year again when parents and schools sit down to talk about IEP progress. All the emotions of what this means for your child, your family and the future can be overwhelming. Every child and every IEP are unique, but there are some things that are constant and necessary. We hope sharing this information will help parents and educators better navigate the process with transparency of the law. 

 

Notice of an IEP meeting matters. It is that simple. Notice of an IEP meeting is something you are entitled to receive. As outlined in the regulations for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the school MUST take steps to ensure parents have the opportunity to participate in an IEP meeting, including:

(1) Notifying parents of the meeting early enough to ensure that they will have an opportunity to attend; and

(2) Scheduling the meeting at a mutually agreed on time and place.

 

These are procedural safeguards written clearly in the law because it is an essential part of a successful IEP meeting for everyone involved. To help parents and advocates understand the IEP notice requirement and hopefully to help schools understand why they are essential to the IEP process we are sharing some information compiled by Special Education Advocate, Danita Munday. Her direction on this issue not only supports parents’ rights but will assist a parent if they ever move forward with an IDEA IEP complaint.  

 

  • IEP meeting notice is required by federal regulations. When a parent doesn’t require notice you in essence say, “I am fine with not following the law.” This may be interpreted as you do not know your rights, or do not care, and it forms a presumption that you are ok with proceeding outside the law.

  • Get everything in writing – do not stop when it comes to something as basic as a meeting notice. This ensures everyone is on the same page. 

  • Notice sets the purpose of the meeting.

  • Notice outlines who is coming to the meeting. Knowing who will be there can help you better prepare and ensure both sides have the resources needed at the meeting to work through any issues that may arise. If the right people are not listed, you can ask for others to be there before the meeting date.

  • Notice is your opportunity to respond 24 hours in advance that you will be tape recording the meeting.

  • Notice is the way a district assures meaningful parental participation. Without appropriate notices, you are not fully prepared for the meeting. If you are not prepared to participate meaningfully, it could mean your child’s program is not appropriate.

 

So, what do you do if you do not get appropriate notice of a meeting? Danita says, “When you get to the meeting with no appropriate written notice, say, 'I never received my written notice. Next meeting, I’ll need the appropriate written notice before I agree to attend.’” This extends to issues or persons at the meeting that were not included on the notice, “If somebody is there you were not expecting or don’t want there,” says Danita, “ask them to be dismissed. Say, ‘Since I did not receive written notice of the meeting, I had no idea who would be here. I don’t understand why the band director is here, but not the math teacher since math is the issue.’ Or ‘I cannot meaningfully participate in a meeting to develop an IEP today since I did not get written notice. I had no idea that was your intent. I need my husband and advocate here for an IEP meeting. I thought we were having a parent-teacher conference!’”

 

If you have questions about an IEP meeting or need more information on Special Education rights and law you can reach out to Danita Munday at Remaincalmeducation@yahoo.com, Rachel Roberts at rroberts@gayjoneslaw.com or visit the Mississippi Parent Training and Information Center http://www.mspti.org/resources.asp.