What’s old is new again and I’m reworking some old posts. Several years ago I discontinued the “Ask an Advocate” feature on the site. Now, it’s coming back!

Today’s question comes from a parent asking about the LEA signing the IEP.

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Here is today’s question:

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I received an IEP and placement page from the school but there was no signature on the Response section where it states school assurance.

If someone from the district has not signed that form is the IEP legal? I have received other IEP’s over the years and it was always signed by a LEA representative. I am in Mass.

Signing an IEP

For starters, since you are in Massachusetts, you are in one of four states that require a parent’s signature on all IEPs. The four states are yours, California, Virginia and Montana. The other 46 states only require a parent signature on the initial IEP.

But, that’s a parent’s signature, you’ve asked about the school.

As usual, I have more questions than answers to start.

  • Is this the final version?
  • Have you already signed one and sent it in to them?
  • Is this IEP complete and accurate?
  • Are you in agreement with the placement?
  • Was this IEP sent electronically?

IDEA does not specifically address this issue. I am not sure if your state does or not, that’s something for you to look up (maybe).

Because, it’s certainly best practice to sign it before they send it to you. But not legally required.

And, once your signature is on it, it’s not like they can send out another, right?

If it’s being sent out and around to the team electronically (this is how my son’s team does it), then it gets sent out to everyone at the same time. Even though you may not see their signature on the document, they may have signed it.

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The other thing is this. They might send it to the parent first to save time. Your IEP team, or at least the LEA representative, wants to make sure that you’re in agreement with this IEP as written and are not going to exercise any of your IEP Procedural Safeguards.

I mean, if they send it around to the team, and everyone signs it and then they send it to you. But, you disagree, so you check for mediation or due process. Then, they’ve wasted that time getting everyone to sign it. I know, it feels minor, but schools are extremely stretched right now. So any time and energy they can save on a task should be used.

How I would respond to this would depend on how the IEP is, and whether or not it was on paper.

If this IEP is paper, and you have already signed it, and you’re in agreement with it, and you’ve signed the PWN, your parental concerns have been included….and the only thing that is missing is a district signature, then I would send a copy of it (keep a copy) back to them with a quick note. “I’m sure it’s just an oversight, but I see no one from My School District has signed this, so just sending it back so you can sign it and then send me a complete copy, thanks.”

I would make a copy of it before I sent it back though. I’ve seen enough families burned that I do not take any chances. It might seem like overkill, but I cannot even tell you how many times a copy of something would have completely avoided a negative situation.

If it’s electronic, I would sign it if I agree and follow up with an email asking for a completely signed copy when it’s complete.

But to answer your question, yes if it was sent to you without signatures, it is valid and should be considered as your school district’s final offer of FAPE.

Good for you for being detail oriented and noticing. Hopefully this is just an administrative blip and nothing more, but it never hurts to be sure. Good luck and keep us posted.

If the IEP is still not finished, I would return it with your parental letter of attachment and with your concerns.

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