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IEP Disagreement Options and Annual Renewals

Angela Oswalt Morelli , MSW, edited by Mark Dombeck, Ph.D.

IEP Disagreement Options

hand writing on paperOnce everyone appears satisfied with the plan, parents will need to sign off on the IEP in three locations: 1) a check-box indicating they attended the meeting, 2) a check-box indicating they received a document highlighting their rights under IDEA (if in fact they did receive it), and 3) a check-box to indicate whether the parents agree with the IEP, partially agree with the IEP, or totally disagree with the IEP.

If parents fully agree with the IEP plan developed, they simply check the box on the plan indicating they fully agree and sign their name. However, if parents do not fully agree, they have three options. One option they have is to sign the fully agree box anyway. This would be appropriate if parents agree with the main themes and goals of the plan, but disagree with only minor issues.

The second option is to sign the box indicating partial approval. In this case, parents can either write out their specific concerns in the comment box next to this box. If this is not enough room, parents can write out their concerns on a parent addendum page. Many schools' IEP forms already have a pre-made form for this, but if they don't, any paper written and signed by a parent is valid. On this page, parents can write out their longer, more involved specific concerns about the IEP. This allows families to work from this IEP but to still have documentation about their concerns for future IEP reviews. That way, if certain goals, objectives, related services, or placements didn't have the desired effect, caregivers can refer back to their original concerns.

The third option for parents who totally disagree with the IEP is to check the box for disapproval of the IEP and sign their names. Once again, they should spell out their specific concerns on a parental addendum page. After this, parents still have the same due process rights as discussed above. Families can request mediations and due process proceedings not only for initial evaluations but also for IEP generation and renewals.

IEP Annual Renewals

IEP meetings need to occur at least once a year. These renewal meetings allow the IEP team to review students' progress toward objectives and goals. Based on that progress, goals can be modified, added, or dropped. As well, related services and assistive technologies can be modified, decreased, increased, or changed. Each time this happens, the child's unique and changing needs and strengths need to be discussed in order to develop a plan that best meets their needs.

Schools and parents can agree to change the IEP at other times throughout the year, too. Another IEP meeting can be held, but it doesn't have to be. If both the school and parents agree, changes can be made through a written, signed document. Furthermore, IEP meetings don't have to be face-to-face. New IDEA regulations allow meetings to be video or telephone conferences, but these types of conferences can make open dialogue and discussion more difficult.

Students receiving special education services need to receive a total re-evaluation every three years to determine if their current level of functioning still meets the eligibility requirements for the disability and the need for special education. Parents should prepare for repeat evaluations much like they prepare for initial evaluations. If a child's eligibility for special education services is denied, parents have the same due process options available to them as discussed before.