Parental Rights In The IEP Process


Most parents don’t know they have rights in the IEP process. Recently, I had a conversation with a very concerned mother… it went something like this;

Mother; “But, I’ve only been invited to my son’s IEP meeting every three years…”

Me; No response, since I was literally speechless…

Mother; “Are you there?”

Me; “Yes, I’m here, and I’m about to fly over to your son’s school and read them the “riot act!” It’s your RIGHT to be invited to every single IEP meeting your child has… that’s a minimum of once a year!”

Mother; “Oh, I didn’t realize that… ugh, it would have helped a lot to work with his teacher to figure out how to help…”


The Special Education Process is Flawed 

I cannot tell you how often I hear crazy things like this from the parents I work with…

The scary part… it’s not their fault!

The system is flawed and in some cases, RIGGED!

The language used in an IEP and during an IEP meeting usually requires a four-year degree to decipher…


Get this Free Special Education Acronym Guide


Well, conversations like these over the years have led to us creating a program to ENSURE children get the exact services they deserve from their school…

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More on that in a little bit...

First, let’s understand the rights that you have as a parent!

What Are Your Rights in the Special Education Process?

When it comes to special education, parental involvement is paramount to the success of a child!

This is especially true during all aspects of the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) creation, changes, and anything else related to this vital process.

As a parent, you can initiate the IEP process. So it’s essential that you understand your rights and responsibilities to ensure that the process is efficient and collaborative.

Parents whose children are aged 3 to 21 years and have a disability are entitled to different rights when it comes to IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act).

Furthermore, these rights are typically referred to as procedural safeguards and are extended to a child’s guardians and the student themselves when they turn 18.


8 Parental Rights In The IEP Process

#1 Right To Participate

Every parent has the right to participate in all decision-making meetings held to develop an IEP for their child.

These meetings are backed by  FAPE (Free Appropriate Public Education) and include the child’s;

  • Eligibility
  • Evaluation
  • Educational Placement
  • Any Other Matter Pertaining To Their Education

In the case there isn’t a parent available for these meetings, a surrogate parent should be appointed by the district to help represent the child adequately.

#2 Right To Written Notice

You have the right to receive written notice before any changes are made. This pertains to changes in:

  • Identification
  • Evaluation
  • Educational placement initiated by the school district

#3 Right To Consent

Parents have the right to provide informed, written consent for the special education IEP. This should be before the assessment process or the provision of special education and related services.

This consent is necessary before any changes are done to the program already in place. Parents should only supply their consent once they have a clear understanding of the IEP team proceedings.

Also, you have a right to request an interpreter if your native language is different from English or you are deaf. You should also have all IEP documents and written notices translated.

Keep in mind; parents have the right to refuse the evaluation or educational placement of their child.


#4 Right To Access Educational Records

If your child is enrolled in special education and has an IEP you have the right to their educational records. This me you can…inspect, evaluate, and request copies of your child’s educational records.


#5 Right To Request A Hearing

You have the right to request a hearing for any complaints concerning the provision of FAPE.

During the hearing, you can request that an advocate, attorney, or if appropriate, your child be present. Furthermore, parents have the choice to make the hearing public.


#6 Right To Keep Child In Current Placement

You have the right to disagree with any proposals to change your child’s placement. When a disagreement surfaces, your child should remain in their current program until resolved.


#7 Right To Mediation

When a disagreement arises, parents are free to seek voluntary and impartial mediation to help find a mutually agreed-upon solution regarding their child’s special education IEP.


#8 Right To Information On Disciplinary Action

Children enrolled in special education have specific rules when it comes to suspension or expulsion.

If these instances extend for more than ten days, an IEP meeting should be called to assess how their disability could be contributing to the child’s misconduct.

Additionally, the participants should discuss the potential for an alternative placement as an alternative.


Why It Is Important to Know Your Rights in the IEP Process

The parent is an essential member of the IEP team. You should actively participate in the progress of your child’s education and performance.

IDEA guarantees the rights of parents formulating the necessary educational programs and decisions that will benefit their child. It is, therefore, important for you to exercise your rights responsibly to guarantee the success of your child.

The world of special education is a big one. This means there’s a lot of information parents should be aware of describing the;

  • Complexities Of Services
  • Schools
  • Behaviors
  • Tips and Tricks To Gaining Proper Opportunity

The more information you have, the better equipped you will be to make future decisions for your child with special needs to ensure their success.


How Can We Help? 

Consequently, Special Education Resource was explicitly created to help parents of children with special needs find the information and assistance necessary to help their child reach their excellence.

Through dozens of articles, quotes, videos, resources, and one-on-one special education tutoring, we are here to help you every step of the way.


Parents at an IEP meeting which is one of their rights in the IEP process.
Parental involvement is paramount to a child’s success in all aspects of special education, you have rights in the IEP process.

Picture of Luke Dalien

Luke Dalien

Author Luke Dalien has spent his life dedicated to helping others break the chains of normal so that they may live fulfilled lives. When he’s not busy creating books aimed to bring a smile to the faces of children, he and his amazing wife, Suzie, work tirelessly on their joint passion; helping children with special needs reach their excellence. Together, they founded an online tutoring and resource company, Poetry, which had been a personal endeavor of Luke’s for the better part of two decades, was mainly reserved for his beautiful wife, and their two amazing children, Lily and Alex. With several “subtle nudges” from his family, Luke finally decided to share his true passion in creativity with the world through his first children’s book series, “The Adventures Of The Silly Little Beaver."


  1. I work at Wetumpka High School in Wetumpka, Alabama, and I serve as a Problem Solving Team (PST) facilitator which is a process under Response to Instruction (RTI) that determines whether or not a child needs special education services. Is there a parents’ rights brochure that we could use to distribute to our parents here in Elmore County when their children are identified by the PST due to failing grades?

  2. Do I have a right to review my child’s projected goals and objectives prior to the IEP meeting so I can better plan my input?

    • yes! Kim as a parent, you have the right to request a draft of the Individualized Education Plan Prior to the meeting.

  3. My son is being forced to go to different school other then what he is zoned for because his school does not have an autism program. As his mom i do not want him in an autism program he is high function and i want to main stream him into general education with a 1 on 1 aid to help him stay focused. We just moved to a different state for work reasons and they will not re evaluate him until he starts school in the program i do not want him in. even though his grades and IEP has been updated all the comment and everything they are going off of has not been updated for over 2 years almost 3. they are making him sound worse then he is. I’m realizing i have no say or rights to deny him going to this autism program and i don’t know what else to do. we are in florida if that helps

  4. Does the school district have the right to change your child’s school less than a month before school starts? I just received a phone call and email that they are changing my sons school because they have no room. Can they do this?

    • Unfortunately, most school systems do not offer to pay for outside evaluations. Most of the school systems will consider and should take into account the information provided within an outside evaluation. Check out our most recent video on eligibility testing for more information

  5. The schools sent my child home sick she suffers from phobia of large crowds and the school is no help she has an iep and advanced out of spec ed but when I sent her to school with dr note they sent her home again I sent her back with a hospital note and the days she was made to stay home regardless of notes was not excused
    And they told me 1 week before school that they mean to retain my 16 in 9 th grade please help I have a son with extreme autism and don’t know what to do to stop this her grades were great last year so I believe the stance is the only issue and if she past on grades she will have to repeat a whole year for nothing I believe it’s punishment for struggling to get my son out of district thanks

  6. My child and I are currently in a battle. He did 8th in an online public school and wants to attend a brick and mortar school for high school. I went to enroll him in a school of choice high school because my other son (without an IEP) attends elementary there. It’s going on 2-3 weeks and I still have been able to enroll him yet.
    Here’s the deal that I don’t know much about.
    One school is my in district school (it’s not a very good school) the other school is out of my district and is a school of choice (in a different county but right near me).
    They both keep telling me it’s the other schools fault as to why the school of choice will not enroll my child. There is a document that needs to be signed by my districts school before they can enroll him, however, my district school will not sign because, and I was told “it’s a funding issue”. All is want is for my son to go to a better school, in the district with his little brother, and to have him be in an environment that is better than what my district can offer.
    Is appreciate it if you could explain or help me to understand why my son can not legally go where I want him to go, especially if the district I want him in has open enrollment / school of choice here in Michigan.


    • Angela, I’m going to send you an email with some information that could help with your situation. I’m so sorry to hear you’re going through this!

  7. If an iep mtg is set up due to a 10 day suspension where principal wants the iep students expelled, do i have a right to be at that meeting. It is my understanding that I am not allowed to attend that meeting and will be notified of the results. Her IEP plan has not been followed correctly for two years. Now we are facing assult charges on top of all of that.

    • Leslie, You have a legal right to participate in meetings about your child’s education, including IEP meetings. You can even call an IEP team meeting at any time. It is important to read and check over the Procedural Safeguards for your state. The Procedural Safeguards will give you an outline of all of your rights as a parent dealing with IDEA or the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Please reach out to us if you need more clarification with a particular state in mind.

  8. Do I have the right to demand that my child’s BI is at an IEP meeting? I’m being told they don’t allow the aids however she is the one with my child all day every day no one else. And I’d like her to be present for the meetings.

    • Kacie, YES! As a Special Education Teacher, I always try to invite everyone that is involved with the children regularly. I think that it is super important that the behavior interventionist should be involved in his IEP. Especially, if he has a behavior goal or a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) within his IEP. Please reach out to us if you need more clarification.

  9. Do I have the right to ask for reasonable accommodations to be added to his IEP?
    Ive asked for him to receive help packing his backpack (he feels rushed to catch the bus and leaves everything at school including homework) as well as assistance filling out his agenda daily so I know what needs to be completed. They agreed to this and sent me “meeting minutes” but refused to put it in his IEP stating that providing the meeting minutes is written consent that they will comply..

  10. I have been having a disagreement with my school about my sons inclusion teacher. He feels that he is targeted and singled out and is expressed his reluctance to want to work with this teacher. I have gone to a principal and ask that he have a different inclusion teacher. By that principal then referred it to another head principal as well as told the inclusion teacher that I have requested a new one. Then I was called into a meeting to discuss why I had spoken to the first principal without discussing it with the inclusion teacher. I do not speak to the inclusion teacher first because I feel she’s a little hostile as well. So I have also gone to the Head principal and ask for another inclusion teacherhe is very reluctant to do as I’ve asked even though I’ve told him repeatedly that my son is not feeling very comfortable with this inclusion teacher to the point that he does not really want to work for her at all and I do not feel that it is his most productive environment. This principal seems to be irritated that I would ask for another inclusion teacher saying that all the other inclusion teachers have thier caseload. The way the school does their inclusion is that they assign and inclusion teacher when they are a freshman in high school and then inclusion teacher follows them all the way 2 senior year. My son had the same issues with her and his freshman year and now that we are in the middle of his sophomore year they have continued I personally do not want to see him continue with this kind of frustration for another two and a half years. Do I have any grounds to move forward as in requesting an advocate or site official to come in and mediate another meeting?is it possible that I could have a favorable outcome or am I just making it harder for my son?

  11. My name is adriane. Mother of an 11 year old boy that is suffering the symptom of add/adhd.
    I need to know with a diagnosis of ADD or ADHD is he entitled to have a personal assistance as a parlay or a para 2 assist him in the classroom under his IEP program???

    • Adriane – Great question! This is going to 100% depend on what’s written in his IEP. Do you know if it states anything about a para?

    • Under IDEA parents are given rights during the evaluation process of their child. However, in general, these rights do not include being present during the evaluation of your school-aged child. Parents are given the right to consent or refuse consent for assessments. Assessments must be completed by qualified personnel and in a timely manner (60days for an initial assessment and 90 days for a reevaluation). School systems also should use multiple sources in determining whether a child has an educational disability. Additionally, these evaluations should be at no cost to the parent.

  12. As an advisor to special ed teachers in my district, this is a wonderful website to inform parent’s about their rights in the IEP process. I always stress to my teacher to talk in Plain Language, so the parents can understand what’s going on in the meetings and advocate for their child. Thanks for helping our parent’s become better advocate for their child.

  13. As an advisor to special Ed teachers in my district, this is a wonderful website to inform parent’s about their rights in the IEP process. I always stress to my teacher to talk in Plain Language, so the parents can understand what’s going on in the meetings and advocate for their child. Thanks for helping our parent’s become better advocate for their child. This is what its all about.

  14. I an a divorced father abd my children’s school said that the can have a meeting without notifying me, only one parent hast to be notified. This is difficult for me to believe and understand, is it true? Thank you for your time.


  15. My child’s IEP team conducted new evaluations for his development delay and, after I requested for IEE’s they went ahead and removed special education services altogether. I requested for the “stay put” provision under the IDEA to remain until our dispute is resolved. Can they remove services even though I requested for new evaluations and then I abruptly ended the meeting. They went ahead and completed the meeting without me and removed his IEP.

  16. Hi there,
    So I have a 10 year old who is in a special needs classroom and he is up for his 3 year IEP. I’m really not sure about my rights and what rights the school has. Last week he was sent home 3 packets I was asked by note to fill out and return. BASC3- Parent Rating Scale, a parent input form- developmental history, and Vineland-3- Vineland Adaptive Behavioral Scales. I have not had my child diagnosed but im almost certain he is somewhere on the autism spectrum. Do I have to fill out these forms prior to the IEP? I have never been asked to fill out these before. Also, I have already bumped heads with the school psychologist. Can I request that she is not present during my child’s upcoming IEP? Any info is much appreciated

  17. I recently enrolled my son into kindergarten he was diagnosed with moderate Autism last year they told me my son will need to be in a regular classroom because he hasn’t had his iep meeting yet so he can’t be in special education yet he starts school on Wednesday I know for a fact my son is not gonna do good in a regular class because he is attached to me and also so many students are going to overwhelm him and just him being somewhere he doesn’t know if gonna cause him a meltdown… I guess I just need advice can I just let him stay home until he has iep meeting or what can I do ?

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