Individualized education planParents, have you scheduled your child’s annual Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting?

One of the most important rights the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) gives parents is the right to be a part of the team.  You remember what it was like growing up.  Some kids were picked very last, others were completely left off of the team.  When it comes to your child’s IEP team, Federal law is on your side saying you cannot be left out.

A recent case out of Hawaii, Doug C. v. State of Hawaii Dep’t of Educ., held that a child was denied a free appropriate public education (FAPE) because the IEP team held the child’s annual IEP meeting without the parent.

In this case, the child’s father, Doug C., asked to reschedule the IEP meeting because he was ill and unable to attend.  The meeting had already been rescheduled twice and the deadline for the meeting was fast approaching.  The IEP team held the meeting without Doug C. and voted to change the child’s school placement.  Doug C. challenged the IEP team’s failure to include him in the meeting.  In its opinion, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals focused on the IDEA’s emphasis on parental participation.

The court quoted a Supreme Court case, saying “parental participation safeguards are among the MOST important procedural safeguards’ in the IDEA and ‘violations that interfere with parental participation in the IEP formulation process undermine the very essence of the IDEA.”

Parents, you must take an active role in your child’s IEP.  Be proactive with the school in getting the meeting scheduled.  Come to the table with input and ideas about how to improve your child’s education.  The IDEA places the parent in a position of high regard.  It assumes that you, the parent, are most knowledgeable about your child’s needs.  This gives you the ability to have some influence when it comes to the contents of the IEP.  Take advantage of this.  Do not sit back and let the “professionals” tell you what and how your child should be doing in school.  You understand your child’s disability best; use that understanding to make your child’s education better.

Working with the professional members of your child’s IEP team can often be emotional and difficult.  Our firm can advocate for you and your child.  Your child deserves to benefit from his or her education; we can help.  Contact us for more information regarding special education law advocacy.

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