IEPs: Parents’ Rights

Parents have rights regarding an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for their child under the federal Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA), and state law (see Ohio’s law here).  The IEP process can be overwhelming for parents, typically because they want a good relationship with their child’s school, and they are often at a numerical and informational disadvantage at IEP meetings.

Parents have basic rights in the IEP process.  They include, but are not limited to:

  • Consent: you can give or deny consent for your child to be evaluated for special education services
  • Participate in IEP meetings: You have the right to participate in all meetings when your child’s educational needs will be discussed.  If you are unable to be present physically, the school must let you participate by phone
  • Independent Evaluation:  You have the right to have your child evaluated by outside professionals and to have that evaluation included in decisionmaking.  The school does not have to accept the results but the evaluation could be useful in subsequent mediation or hearings
  • Contest a School’s Decision:  You can contest a school’s decision in mediation, in a due process hearing, or in state or federal court.  An independent evaluation (mentioned above) supporting your position will be a strong asset
  • Private Education Paid by Public School: in some circumstances, if you transfer your child to a private school that provided what the public school could not–or failed to–provide, the public school must reimburse the parents for the private school tuition.  An example can be read here.

The best advice for parents in the IEP process is to know your rights and to get help from a parent advocate or attorney (experienced in special education law) if necessary.