The short answer is yes. But, the real answer to “can a parent request an IEP meeting any time?” is a bit more complex than that.

Like a lot of other things in life, what you ‘can’ do and what you ‘should’ do are two different things. And IEP meetings definitely fall into that category.

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First, let’s talk a little bit about what IDEA says about IEP meetings.

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IDEA does not answer this specific question.

IDEA talks a lot about the purpose of an IEP meeting (develop and/or revise an IEP), who must be included on an IEP team, and that the team must meet “no less than annually.”

OSEP (Office of Special Education Programs) and OSERS (Office of Special Ed Rehab Services) are two divisions of the US Department of Education.

They have published numerous OSEP guidance letters about IEP meetings, and whether or not IEP related service providers must attend and so on. Those two agencies are often my secondary “go to” groups if I cannot find the language I am seeking in IDEA.

You can look through that highlighted link above to see some of their commonly referenced guidance letters. They also have not addressed this.

But, this is what guides this information or practice. And that is….

Your school district doesn’t want to look bad. As part of the online IEP advocacy training that I offer, I am also telling parents to “look for your lighthouse.” The lighthouse is that piece of advice that is, “Should you find yourself in due process, how is this going to look?”

And for schools, I can tell you this–it doesn’t look good if a parent asked for an IEP meeting and the school refused to hold one.

When do you ask for an IEP meeting?

So when do you ask for an IEP meeting?

Whenever you need a change made to the IEP that cannot be reasonably handled with an IEP no-meet addendum. A no meet addendum is just what it says– a change made without an IEP meeting.

You can read more about them in that link.

But, other than that, if you need to discuss the IEP with the IEP team, you ask for an IEP meeting.

However…. again I’ll encourage you to keep your eye on that lighthouse.

How often do you request an IEP meeting?

Ok, so then the next question might be, how often do you request an IEP meeting.

What I’m about to say is my personal advocacy philosophy. It’s what I use for my own child, my advocacy clients, and what I teach in my training.

And that is: I would not request another IEP meeting if the data has not changed.

But that is what happens, often. And here’s why. The steps usually play out like this:

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  1. Parent wants a change to the IEP, so they request an IEP meeting.
  2. The IEP meeting is held and the parent’s request is declined.
  3. Parent is still unhappy, so they request another meeting. This is despite no additional evaluations or other data being gathered since the last meeting.
  4. The IEP team denies the request again.
  5. Lather, rinse, repeat.

If your school has denied your request for a change to FAPE (a change to the IEP) after you have made that request in writing, they are required to provide that information to you on a PWN or NOREP.

If that is not happening, that is your next step–request a PWN.

The school believes that it has the data and documentation to deny this request. We’ll find out if that is really true when they provide the PWN–where they actually have to write down WHY they are denying the request and what information they used to get to that decision.

But having another IEP meeting does not change information. I just have not seen, over 15 years of advocacy work, the value in meeting again to discuss the same data points.

In other words, unless the data has changed, I don’t expect the IEP team to come to another conclusion or decision. Meeting again to “sway” them hasn’t been successful from other parents I’ve watched do this.

And that is what most parents hope to do–sway them to a different decision. It’s not impossible, but I have not seen it happen enough that I would tell you that this is a successful advocacy strategy.

What to Do Instead of Another IEP Meeting

Instead, I would advise you to direct your energy to gathering more data and documentation to support your ask. (this is basically the main tenet of my advocacy strategy that I teach)

Or, of course, you can look at that PWN/NOREP and decide if you have enough information and documentation to challenge their “no!” right now.

You just might. And if you think you do, then I’d take that PWN and consider filing for mediation.

Every situation is different and every parent and advocate is going to have to make that decision.

Make sure you have my IEP Toolkit to ensure that you are even ready for an IEP meeting. If you’re not, reschedule it and get ready!

Request Lots of IEP Meetings!

But, requesting lots of IEP meetings is not a valid advocacy strategy in my professional opinion.

Several years ago, in our online group, there actually was a Mom who stated, “I’m just going to request an IEP meeting every week until they say yes.”

Please.Don’t.

Because, if you do end up in mediation or due process, you’re going to look unhinged, uncooperative and annoying. A hearing officer is not going to think it’s a great idea, I guarantee you.

The school will keep saying yes. They’ll continue to meet with you, entertain your concerns and keep saying no. This will position them in a much more favorable light than it does you, I am certain.

Proceed cautiously. Get data–that’s the best thing you can do to get your child’s needs met–gathering the data necessary to support it.

Good luck and join our online chat group if you have specific questions.

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