Knowing your parent rights can be a game-changer when it comes to successful IEP outcomes. When parents don’t have a clue how to protect their rights and the rights of their child, the school will walk all over you and take advantage of your lack of knowledge.

This is not an extensive list of parent rights, but it is a good start in becoming more empowered during IEP meetings.

Knowing these rights can help you to assert yourself to address when your child is being wronged at their local public school.

This is an abbreviated list and is paraphrased, there are many more parent rights for students with an IEP.

1. To be“mutually supportive and respectful partners” with the school.

Teachers and administrators must respect you as a coequal member of the IEP team. They must listen to your concerns and requests. When an IEP team member becomes aggressive, intimidating, or disrespectful to you, you can file a complaint against that individual.

It cannot be stressed enough how important it is for parents to follow through with written complaints when a problem with school personnel arises. Written complaints can give a school district the power to investigate and discipline abusive teachers and staff. If enough parents complain, perhaps the bad school personnel will be terminated, demoted, transferred, or will change their bad behavior.

2. Within a reasonable time, to observe their child’s current classroom(s) and/or future classrooms if transferring.

You have the right to be fully informed about your child’s placement and that means observing the class. Don’t let them tell you it’s a confidentiality issue so they cannot allow you to observe. This is simply not true. Parents are on school grounds every day and they see other students. This is a weak excuse and violates your parent right to be fully informed about your child’s class placement.

3. To meet with the teacher(s) or principal within a reasonable time of their request.

As a coequal member of the team, the team must be cooperative and collaborative with you. This means, you have the right to communicate with any IEP team member outside an IEP meeting to discuss progress and address problems or concerns.

4. To volunteer in the school or classroom, under supervision of school employees and with approval of the teacher (if volunteering in the classroom).

If the teacher has other volunteers, you should also be given the same opportunity to volunteer in your child’s class. It is common for teachers to “pick and choose” who they allow to volunteer. This is discrimination.

5. To be notified if their child is absent on a timely basis.

6. To receive the results of standardized and statewide tests.

When an assessment has been conducted for your child, you have the right to request a copy of the assessment report prior to the IEP meeting. How can you be prepared to intelligently discuss the assessment, if you don’t obtain a copy prior to the meeting? They will not give you a copy unless you request one. You need to be prepared to discuss the assessment findings and have a plan in place, so you’ll be ready to advocate to have the assessment recommendations adopted into the IEP.

7. To request a particular school and receive a response.

Sometimes students are just not at the right school, but parents like the school district they live in and want to keep their child there. There are district processes in place to achieve this goal, but certain requirements must be met. Some options available to parents include open enrollment or filing an application for Intra-District (within district) transfer per school district policies.

Students who are in special education may be transferred without ever applying via this process if their child’s IEP team places them due to services needed at a particular school. This is an Intra-District transfer. However, parents can also ask for an Intra-District transfer even if the IEP team did not recommend it.

If a parent wants to place a student out of their home district, they need to pursue an Inter-District (between 2 districts) transfer.

8. To have a safe environment supportive of learning.

When your child attends school, you should know their health and well-being is protected throughout their school day. Districts have an obligation and duty to provide a safe learning environment that promotes inclusion and diversity.

9. To examine curriculum materials of their child’s classes.

You have the right to view all curriculum being taught to your child.

10. To be informed of their child’s progress and whom the parent should contact if there are problems.

IDEA requires you receive a “Progress on Goals” at the same time your child’s report card is provided.

11. To access their child’s school records

In California, see also Education Code 49069.7 which requires provision within 5 business days. If you are not in California, check your state timeline for a records request.

12. You have the right to a copy or view your child’s complete cumulative file.

This means everything in your child’s school file.

13. To question anything in your child’s records with which you disagree.

14. To be provided with data regarding skills and standards your child is to meet.

15. To be informed in advance of school rules, including discipline and procedures, attendance policies, dress codes, and procedures for visiting the school.

16. To be informed regarding any psychological testing the school does and to refuse testing.

When a school wants to formally test your child, they must offer you an Assessment Plan, outlining the battery of tests they plan to use. They cannot test your child without your signature and authorization.

17. To participate in parent advisory committees, school site councils, or site-based management leadership teams.

Parents, you have many rights providing you to take an equal seat at the IEP table. Now go out and use them!

If you’d like more information about your parent rights or are seeking advice regarding problems with your child’s IEP, schedule a consultation with me.

Cheering you on always!


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