Here is today’s question:
I have some concerns about my daughter’s classes and services and I wanted to have an IEP meeting. I sent a note in with her to give to her teacher, and they wrote back and said no to having a meeting. Can a school refuse to do an IEP meeting?
First, you have left out a few details. The school has to have an IEP meeting at least annually, per the law. When is her annual IEP date? I only mention this, because if they are refusing and her annual date is just a few weeks down the road, may not be worth the battle.
IDEA states that: “there should be as many meetings a year as a child may need.”
Some reasons for having IEP meetings more frequently than annually include:
- when a student demonstrates an unanticipated lack of progress
- increase or beginning of negative behaviors
- increase or beginning of disciplinary issues
- concerns about services
- at parent or teacher request to discuss possible changes to IEP
- when a new evaluation or assessment is given
So, basically, no, they cannot. However, without knowing all the details–ask yourself this–are you being reasonable? Do you have legitimate concerns about your child and their progress? Is this a necessary meeting? I’m not saying this to point blame, as I believe you have a valid concern. But sometimes parents want regular meetings with members (some or all) of their child’s team, and that doesn’t necessarily have to be an IEP meeting. If you want regular updates on your child’s progress or progress monitoring, agree upon how that is going to be implemented and write that into the IEP. It can be weekly phone calls, a set weekly or monthly time for you to visit, or just a communication book to go back and forth between home and school. If that is what you are looking for, you don’t have to, nor should you call them IEP meetings as there usually is not a reason to hold one that frequently. I just don’t want you pushing this issue if in fact it’s not an IEP meeting that you need.
Another detail I don’t know if how often you have been meeting recently. If you have been meeting somewhat regularly because there are some issues you cannot agree on, then the school may be trying to force your hand. By refusing to meet with you, they essentially are forcing you to take action either with a facilitated or mediated IEP or filing for Due Process. If you are in PA, then the ODR will help you with that. Check with your specific state if you are not in PA.
What should you do if your school refuses to do an IEP meeting?
First and foremost, I really hope that this is in writing and that you still have it! Keep it, make copies of it, and hide them. This could be a very essential piece of evidence if you go to Due Process–it shows that your district does not want to work with you.
I would call your local Disability Rights Network, Arc of other agency that advocates for people with disabilities and either get an advocate or advice.
If you still have to do this alone, I’m not sure how to suggest you proceed. It is the law, but I hate for parents to go around quoting law, as we are not lawyers. But you may want to read up on IDEA and carefully construct another letter asking for the IEP meeting with explicit reasons why you wish to have another meeting. I have heard crazy things–every thing from “Oh it’s not time for his IEP meeting yet” to “We only do our IEP meetings in April.” You can say, without quoting laws, that “It is my understanding that an IEP meeting is to be held under the following circumstances…….” and list them.
Remember, the parent is an equal member of the IEP team! Good luck and keep us posted.