Many parents believe that they must sign the IEP at the conclusion of your IEP meeting. This is simply not true. It is a parents right to take home the IEP and read it when you are not pressured by team members standing over you waiting for you to sign. It will not hurt to wait a few days for you to take home your IEP and read it at your leisure and then sign and return the IEP.
If you were going to sign any other legally binding contract, would you sign it without reading it in depth to fully understand what you were signing? Would you sign a contract that you did not agree with? It is shocking but this happens all the time! Parents sign the IEP even though they are not in agreement with the IEP simply because a school staff member told the parent they “had to sign”.
Many parents are told misinformation such as, “If you don’t sign the IEP, your child will not receive special education services”, or “Your child will loose their special education services if you don’t sign it today”. This is simply not true.
When a parent does not sign the IEP, “stay-put” goes into effect. This means that the last agreed upon signed IEP will remain in affect until the parent signs the current IEP.
The IEP is a legally binding contract in which the school district is mandated to implement under IDEA. If the school district does not implement the IEP according to exactly what is written, the district is out of compliance with State and Federal Special Education Law.
When a parent is in disagreement with the IEP, they have several options in terms of how to sign the IEP. Option #1 is to sign the IEP “with exception”. This means that you agree to all parts of the IEP except for the issue you are in disagreement. Parents can clearly describe the issue they are in dissent which allows the rest of the IEP to be implemented and agreed upon except for the issue you described you were not in agreement.
Option #2 would be for the parent to write a “Partial Agreement” to the IEP. This is a good option when there is more than one issue in dissent which would require a letter to be written. The letter would state the multiple issues in dissent and also give consent for all other portions of the IEP to be implemented.
The third option is to not sign the IEP at all. This would trigger “stay-put” and the last signed IEP would continue to be implemented. There are pros and cons to this option. If the current IEP has offered your child additional goals, services, or accommodations that your child needs, this would not be a good option to choose because you would want your child to receive these additional supports and/or services.
Option #3 is a good choice when the IEP really did not change or offer your child something they currently require to make progress. If this is the case, not signing the IEP would be appropriate. The school district would then be responsible to schedule another IEP meeting in an effort to come to a resolution with the parent in order for the parent to agree to sign the current IEP.