Can an IEP be removed?

One of the, ahem, benefits of this job is that I get to talk to all kinds of parents. That being said, parents generally only contact me when things aren’t going so well. After all, if your child is happy, making great progress and doing well in school, why would you call an advocate? Right?

Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of questions about removing IEPs. When do you end or remove an IEP? What are the reasons to stop an IEP? Unfortunately, I don’t often hear very good or legitimate reasons to stop an IEP.

remove an iep

Can parents remove their child from an IEP?

“I don’t want my child to have an IEP.” As a community, we spend so much time fighting for services, it’s easy to forget that some parents don’t want them.

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Yes, parents can withdraw their child from special education supports and services.

How to Terminate an IEP.

Write a letter to your child’s team leader. The team may or may not request a meeting to finalize everything.

Know that all supports, services and protections from having an IEP will end. I have a memo that comes from the state of Iowa, but it covers some good points. It’s at the end of the post.

7 Silly Reasons Schools use to Remove an IEP.

These are all phrases that I have heard from parents, that their school team told them. Not kidding!

  1. “We have to.” Says who? Please show me where it says you have to end the IEP. I get this a lot when the school wants to move the child to a 504. “We have to move him to a 504.” Um, no you don’t. This phrase has a lot of strange cousins, such as: “We have to because he has ADHD” or “We have to because he’s going to high school.” If confronted with this one, just a calm “Great, if you can show me where that is stated in IDEA or the state regs, I’d like to read up on it.
  2. “Because there aren’t IEPs in college.So true. Fact is, there are no IEPs in college. Only 504s. However, nowhere in IDEA, ADA, Section 504 or anywhere else, does it say that the child must be moved to a 504 prior to graduation. A team should not threaten you with graduation, a 13th year, ESY or anything else. If the child needs an IEP and qualifies for services up until the day they accept a diploma, so be it.
  3. We don’t do that here.” This one I hear when a child is either moving to a new town or withdrawing from one school and enrolling in another, such as a charter school. Bottom line is: If the school is bound to IDEA, then yes, they ‘do that here.’ If it has been determined that is what the child needs, and there is no other reasonable substitute, then yes, you do that here.
  4. “He doesn’t need one anymore.” Ding ding ding! Fantastic! After all, don’t we all wish that our kids didn’t need IEPs? I’d give my right arm to not have to live this life. Not needing services, closing the gap, developing self-advocacy and coping mechanisms to the point where the student doesn’t need an IEP should be our goal. I’m so happy that you don’t think he needs an IEP anymore. Can you tell me what criteria you used to determine this? Keep in mind that the school district “may not use any single measure or assessment as the sole criterion for determining whether a child is a child with a disability” {IDEA: 20 U.S.C. § 1414(b)(2)}
  5. In other words, they may do evaluations on your child and determine that they no longer qualify for services. They may not, however, determine this without evaluations or based on just one evaluation. Or their grades. From Wrightslaw: Did the evaluation by the school look at the areas that originally led them to classify her as a child with a learning disability who needs special education services? Was your child functioning on the level of her peers when she was first found eligible? Is your child functioning at the level of her peers now? Is she reading at grade level? Has she fallen further behind her peers?
  6. “A 504 is better.” No, a 504 is different. They often get lumped together, but they shouldn’t. And, even if we were going to have this argument, my guess is that most would argue that an IEP is better than a 504 because it offers more protections for the child. In any event, regardless of which document you think is better, it has no relevance on whether or not the child qualifies for an IEP. I honestly had one team tell a mom that a 504 was better because she’d no longer have to go to IEP meetings! Sure, lots of moms dread IEP meetings. But, you shouldn’t cancel your child’s IEP just to avoid the IEP meeting. Honestly, the things I hear!
  7. “You don’t want an IEP on your child’s records.” I don’t even know what to say for this one. It’s an IEP. An IEP isn’t like registering as a child predator. It shouldn’t be anywhere on your child’s records, except for his IEP files. There shouldn’t be any notation on a report card, diploma or anything else. That would be discriminatory. And since schools are bound to FERPA, who would even know that the child has an IEP if the child or parent doesn’t disclose?

What IDEA says about Removing an IEP

Below I have copied and pasted the wording directly from the IDEA dot gov website. Bold and emphasis is mine, however.

(e) Evaluations before change in eligibility.(1) Except as provided in paragraph (e)(2) of this section, a public agency must evaluate a child with a disability in accordance with §§300.304 through 300.311 before determining that the child is no longer a child with a disability.(2) The evaluation described in paragraph (e)(1) of this section is not required before the termination of a child’s eligibility under this part due to graduation from secondary school with a regular diploma, or due to exceeding the age eligibility for FAPE under State law.(3) For a child whose eligibility terminates under circumstances described in paragraph (e)(2) of this section, a public agency must provide the child with a summary of the child’s academic achievement and functional performance, which shall include recommendations on how to assist the child in meeting the child’s postsecondary goals.

When can a child be removed from an IEP?

Pretty simple answer. When the child no longer needs special education services. And that can only be determined by a comprehensive evaluation process. IDEA is very specific about this.

Here is the memo from the state of Iowa that I mentioned earlier. AEA is an Iowa-specific abbreviation.

As always, check your state’s regs for specifics. But this gives a nice overview.

Like everything else in the IEP process, it’s a team decision. Read your Procedural Safeguards and use them if you have to. Go with your gut, moms. Too often we are talked out of our gut instincts. And, if your child is one that was able to catch up to his/her peers and truly no longer needs one, then celebrate!

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