Who is Required to Attend an IEP Meeting?
Only certain IEP team members are required to attend IEP members. These members include:
1) at least one parent;
2) a local education agency ("LEA") representative;
3) a general education teacher (if applicable);
4) a special education teacher; and
5) someone who can interpret the instructional implications of assessment reports.
Notably, the attendance of providers of related services (e.g., speech and language) is discretionary. This means that if you want to discuss, for example, your child's speech and language services at the IEP meeting, you should confirm that a speech pathologist is listed as an attendee on the Notice. If a speech pathologist isn't listed, you should request that he or she attend. Such a request could be written directly on the Notice or sent to the school district (e.g., the child's teacher or case manager) via a letter or email.
Prior to the IEP meeting, the school district will provide you with a Notice of IEP Meeting ("Notice"). This Notice will provide the proposed date and time of the meeting and will also list who will attend for the school district. The school district will want to you to sign and return the Notice to them.
Carefully review the Notice and ensure that everyone you would like to attend the IEP meeting is listed as an attendee.
How Do I Know If a General Education Teacher is Required to Attend the IEP Meeting?
It depends on the child's IEP. Attendance of a general education teacher is required only if the child is, or may be, participating in the regular education environment. If, for example, the child spends 100% of his or her school day in a special day class ("SDC") then a general education teacher would not ordinarily be required. However, if the IEP team is considering including the child in a general education class (e.g., gen. ed. art) then a general education teacher would be required to attend the IEP meeting.
Can I Bring Other People to the IEP meeting?
Yes. Parents are allowed to bring other people with them to an IEP meeting, such as an educational advocate, a friend, or outside service provider (e.g., therapist). It's best to bring someone who can positively participate in the meeting. But we all know that IEPs can be stressful. So, if you want to bring someone who can provide with some emotional support, that's fine too. Just be sure to note on the Notice of Meeting who you intend to bring.
What Do I Do If a Required IEP Member Requests to Be Excused From the Meeting?
A required member of an IEP team may only be excused from attending an IEP team meeting if:
(1) the parent agrees in writing with the district that the team member's attendance is not necessary, because the member's area of the curriculum or related services is not being modified or discussed in the meeting; or
(2) if the meeting involves a modification to, or discussion of, the member's area of the curriculum or related services, the team member may be excused if the parent consents in writing to the excusal, and the team member, prior to the meeting, provides parent and the IEP team written input into the development of the IEP.
In San Diego County, most school districts use template forms that they fill in and ask parents to sign.
While a school district should notify parents in advance of the meeting that a specific member is requesting to be excused, it is not uncommon for parents to arrive at an IEP meeting only to have the school staff tell them that a certain member can't attend the meeting and then asks parents to sign an excusal consent form. This is not okay. The notification should be in advance of the meeting so parents have an opportunity to agree, in writing, with "the district that the team member's attendance is not necessary" or if the member attendance is necessary that the member has an opportunity to provide the IEP team (including parents) with "written input into the development of the IEP."
Hopefully, if the school district is seeking to excuse a member of the IEP team, it has given ample notice. Ultimately, the choice to excuse the required member belongs solely to the child's parents. If parents wish to have the required member in attendance, parents can withhold consent to the excusal. Keep in mind that doing so will likely result in the meeting being rescheduled.
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