Inside: How long do IEP meetings last? And what should you do if you feel your IEP meeting is too short or too long? Sharing all the tips and advice for IEP meeting length issues.
How long is an IEP meeting? How long should an IEP meeting be? How long do IEP meetings last?
There’s an easy and short answer to this: An IEP meeting is as long as it needs to be.
However, if you’re here, chances are you’re being told something else. Or, being told that your meeting can only be X amount of minutes long.
Nope. No such rule.
IDEA and it’s supporting documents love to go on about parents participating in the process. Parents are equal team members, blah blah blah and so on.
But let’s face it, in day to day stuff, the school often has the upper hand.
1. How long do IEP meetings last?
The majority of the team are school personnel. They’re being paid to be there. This is significant, because to side with you, means that they have to not-side with the entity that signs their paycheck.
Schools often handle the bulk of IEP organization, writing the IEP, scheduling the meeting and so on.
2. IDEA and IEP Meeting Length
First things first. IDEA does not define this. No one in the entire statute will you find wording telling you how long an IEP meeting should be.
As a parent, that’s your first line of defense if you are being told otherwise. “Can you show me where it says this…because I am unable to locate it.”
In the spirit of IDEA, the IEP is actually supposed to be developed by the IEP team, at the IEP meeting.
I’d say in most cases, that doesn’t happen.
Now, that doesn’t automatically mean predetermination either.
It just makes sense that the IEP team members would prepare their portion of the IEP ahead of time. The key here is that those IEP team members are not steadfast in those decisions and not open to changing what they have prepared.
3. IEP Development at IEP Meetings
My son has many needs and a pretty lengthy IEP. Despite that, our IEP meetings are usually only about 60-90 minutes. This is because so much of the pre-work is done ahead of time. Thus, the meeting itself is just to make sure everyone is on the same page.
In fact, as I sit here in October, I have a phone conference this week about his FBA, and his IEP isn’t due until February. For my team, the meeting just seals the deal.
Parents need to be engaged in the IEP process all year long, just as we expect our school staff to be. A parent should be participating in all 5 essential portions of the IEP process.
This helps the team work out issues ahead of time and reduces the need for such a lengthy meeting. If you are actively participating in all parts of the surprises, there really shouldn’t be any surprises at the IEP meeting.
4. How long are IEP meetings?
But, an IEP meeting is as long as it needs to be. Schools are under a tremendous amount of pressure and every year they have to do more with fewer resources. I get it, as a reactionary measure, they try to limit the length of IEP meetings.
For some parents that may work and be acceptable.
However, for many others, there is not enough time to discuss all that they wish to discuss.
5. What affects IEP Meeting Time
There are many factors that go into how long your IEP meeting will be.
You can look at this list of why some IEP meetings are too long or too short, and suggest that the IEP team do more prework.
- An annual IEP meeting will usually be longer than an IEP meeting called to discuss one specific issue or change to the IEP.
- If the triennial evaluations were done, or new IEP evaluations, then a meeting that includes discussing IEP evaluations will be longer.
- If a meeting is scheduled before school, chances are the IEP team will have to leave to go to their classrooms. It’s up to you as a parent what you want to agree to–doing the rest via phone and email, or scheduling another meeting.
- If your meeting is after school and is taking much too long and you’re not getting anywhere, consider asking for adjournment, and reconvening after x, y or z is done (like evaluations, more information needed, etc.).
6. How to know if your IEP meeting is too short.
For years, I’ve been calling it the “Jiffy Lube” IEP meeting. In and out in 30 minutes. And it’s wrong.
Is this happening to you: You go in, they read an already prepared IEP to you, you say a few things, sign it and leave?
Nope, that is not meaningful parent participation. That is a directive IEP, not collaborative.
If you have little to no input on the IEP, then you do not have meaningful parent participation. Time to read your IEP procedural safeguards and make decisions.
7. I need a longer IEP meeting.
Then, just ask.
When you RSVP to the meeting, include a simple “I see that you have allotted 45 minutes for the IEP meeting. Based on past experience, that is not enough time to discuss all of the issues. Most of my son’s IEP meetings have been around 90 minutes. Please send me some new times when the team is available for either 90 minutes, or a second meeting….”
Blah blah blah. You get it. Ask!
8. I asked for more IEP meeting time. They said no.
Well, you have a few options.
You can agree to handle the outstanding issues via phone and email. The school cannot force you to do this, but it is an option if it’s agreeable to you.
Filing compliance complaints is another option.
You can also just choose to stand your ground. Research all the various snippets of IDEA that refer to “Parent Participation” and send them to your team. Remind them that you are an equal member of the team.
Whatever you do, please make sure you are doing it in writing and keeping a good paper trail.
9. Teachers’ Union Contracts and IEP Meetings.
Many times, a teacher’s contract clearly defines his/her expected work hours. To that, I say, “Not my problem.”
On average, 15% of all school students have IEPs. If, during contract negotiations, the administration failed to recognize and accommodate for federally mandated teacher meetings…for 15% of their student population?!?! That’s crazy. And not my problem.
I would handle my personal IEP meeting issue and then set about contacting school board members to make sure that this gets addressed next time. I often work outside of my planned or scheduled work hours, as do many other professions. I don’t like it, and sometimes I absolutely cannot do it. But it is a part of life.
But please use common sense.
The above being said, please use common sense and courtesy that you are expecting from the team.
If you’re repeatedly bringing up old issues that are no longer relevant, or making demands of the team, or you have come to an impasse in the process, it’s time to use your PWN and Procedural Safeguards and move on.
Having another meeting to discuss issues that have been repeatedly rehashed doesn’t benefit anyone, particularly if your data has not changed.
Good Luck and join our chat group if you need more assistance.