In Part 3 of the series “Becoming Autodidactic is the road to successful parent advocacy” we will cover the Parent Agenda, Parent Statement, and Partial Consent.
Part 1 and Part 2 focused on how to set up the IEP meeting to ensure a successful outcome. Part 3 will wrap up the series by giving you the information you need to implement your parent rights during and after an IEP meeting.
If you missed Part 1 or Part 2, here are the links to those articles:
These articles, which I have split up into Part 1, 2, and 3, cover topics that parents ask the most questions and provide you with the legal requirements under IDEA. Remember, IDEA is federal law and therefore, every state must comply.
As I’ve stated in all 3 articles, parents who learn how to do their own research by studying the law and how it applies to their own child’s IEP, are the parents who are successful parent advocates.
You’ve probably heard the term, “If it wasn’t written, it never happened.” This essentially means that if something is not documented in writing, there is no legal evidence to prove it was ever discussed or requested.
This is Advocacy 101, the most basic skill a parent should know.
The Parent Agenda
The Parent Agenda provides a method for parents to submit documented legal evidence outlining their concerns and requests for the IEP. A Parent Agenda should be emailed to the IEP team at least 3 days prior to the IEP meeting. The IEP team should include all the issues listed on your Parent Agenda and embed them into the district IEP Agenda.
The law requires the IEP team to include parent input at every IEP meeting. Therefore, the district must allow parents an opportunity to present their concerns and requests and receive a district response, either approving or denying the parents’ requests.
If the district denies parents the opportunity to have the issues listed on the Parent Agenda included as a part of the IEP meeting agenda, they have violated your parent rights under IDEA.
When writing your Parent Agenda, be very specific in what you are requesting and leave no room for misunderstanding. Be as factual and straight to the point as possible. On the Parent Agenda, include the statement, “I am requesting the Parent Agenda be made a part of the IEP document.”
Overall, the Parent Agenda should include anything you want to see changed in your child’s IEP. Whether it be goals, accommodations, services, placement, bullying, behavior, a request for assessment, social skills, whatever it is that you want to advocate toward making changes for your child.
The Parent Statement
This can be one of the most valuable spaces inside of the IEP and yet, it’s often diminished by the IEP team and overlooked by parents.
The Parent Input Statement is where you can be very specific and require the IEP scribe to write exactly what you tell them to write because this is YOUR parent statement!
The Parent Input section of the IEP has the power to accomplish:
- A legally documented statement in your own words, which provides a paper trail that will prove you’ve been requesting changes over time and the district has not addressed or resolved your concerns and disagreements.
- In your own words, you can list your requests and concerns. This is the ONLY section in the IEP in which a parent can demand the parent statement be documented exactly as you have stated.
- Email the Parent Statement along with the Parent Agenda. By doing this, the team will already have a copy of your Parent Statement which they can transfer into the Parent Statement section of the IEP.
Let me give you an example of a Parent Statement:
“We are concerned that Jimmy has not met his goals and continues to struggle academically. The current district reading program has not met his needs. We have requested a remedial reading intervention program; however, the IEP team has denied our request. Jimmy is 3 years behind in reading and we believe the district is failing to provide him the support and specialized academic instruction he needs to make progress toward his goals and close the remedial gap in reading.”
This statement is not limited to academic progress. It can encompass any area of your child’s IEP, i.e., socialization, communication, fine and gross motor skills, behavior, one-on-one instruction, mental health, medical health concerns, etc.
So, at your next IEP, you can be prepared to answer when the facilitator of your child’s IEP asks you, “Parents, what are your concerns and priorities for your child for the next school year?”
You’ll have your statement prepared prior to the meeting so you can read it, word per word, to the IEP team. Because you emailed a copy of your statement with the Parent Agenda prior to the meeting, the scribe can copy it into the Parent Input section of the IEP.
The Partial Consent
Parent Consent §300.300 (c)(d)(2)(3)
(d) Other consent requirements.
(2) In addition to the parental consent requirements described in paragraphs (a), (b), and (c) of this section, a State may require parental consent for other services and activities under this part if it ensures that each public agency in the State establishes and implements effective procedures to ensure that a parent’s refusal to consent does not result in a failure to provide the child with FAPE.
(3) A public agency may not use a parent’s refusal to consent to one service or activity under paragraphs (a), (b), (c), or (d)(2) of this section to deny the parent or child any other service, benefit, or activity of the public agency, except as required by this part.
Following the initial consent to the eligibility IEP, each state can decide whether they will require a parent to consent before the district can implement the IEP.
If you are in a state that requires a parent signature authorizing consent to the IEP, you have the right to submit a “Partial Consent” letter after an IEP meeting is held. This legal letter will outline the areas in which you disagree and holds the district obligated to work with you to come to an agreement.
There are several ways this can be accomplished. The district may decide to schedule another IEP meeting to further discuss your areas of dissent and try and come to a compromise between you and the IEP team. They may offer you a “Settlement Agreement” which is a legal agreement written by the Special Education Director and outside the IEP team. Or they may decide to allow the areas in dissent remain in “Stay-put” which means the issue you don’t agree with will not be implemented by the district and remain the same as the prior IEP.
The other statute under IDEA Parent Consent states that the district cannot use your Partial Consent to deny your child’s IEP. This statute gives parents the right to agree with some parts of the IEP and disagree with others.
Overall, when you write a Partial Consent, you have legally documented the issues you do not agree with, and the district cannot move forward without utilizing one of the options mentioned.
If you reside in a state that does not require parent signature to the IEP, you should still write a parent letter to document your areas of disagreement, however, the district is not obligated to resolve your concerns. Without documenting your areas of dissent there will be no evidence showing your position and therefore no paper trail. Writing a letter will establish legal evidence of your areas in dissent if you decide to file for due process.
If you learn to successfully implement these advocacy steps, you’ll begin to see a huge change in the outcome of your child’s IEP meetings. Remember, I offer coaching, consulting, and training services to support parents in how to utilize these strategies that are essentially a part of your parent rights under IDEA.
Cheering you on always!
If you haven’t joined our Private Special Education Parent Empowerment Facebook Group yet, you should check it out here.
Here’s what parents are saying about the group:
“Thank you for encouraging us daily and giving us the tools, your informative FB posts and amazing book, we need to learn how to advocate for our children. You give us hope for our children’s future.” – AS, Parent
“Your posts provide such great information! Even as a teacher, I sometimes feel as if my input isn’t documented correctly in the IEP. Every post gives me more ammunition to add to my arsenal!” – FR, Teacher
Valerie Aprahamian is a special education advocate, IEP strategist, and speaker. She speaks on behalf of parents to protect the rights of neurodiverse children to receive the supports they need in public school.