I’m going to say this again loudly just to make sure everyone hears me.
DO NOT SIGN YOUR CHILD’S IEP!
I constantly receive information from my clients about what local school systems are doing. While some are doing the right thing, many are not. Some of the stories below will demonstrate why you don’t want to sign your child’s IEP right now, and may never want to sign one again.
One local school system has advised their case managers to push parents to sign IEP amendments without having an IEP meeting. This means the school will propose the new plan and expect the parents to agree without discussion, explanation, or the right to refuse the changes. Does that sound reasonable or fair?
Imagine you were buying a home. Because of the pandemic you were unable to view it in person, but you did see a few pictures and read a short description about the home. The seller asks you to send a $5,000 check in order to hold the house. Would you send them the money?
My guess is no. I certainly wouldn’t, and I have helped people buy and sell homes for 15 years. If your school district sends you an IEP amendment to sign without first having an IEP meeting, don’t sign it. Your child still has an IEP. The IEP in force right now would enter stay put status and the school would be responsible for delivering those services, either right now or in the future. That’s the way the law is written, and the school knows that.
Another local school district is putting information for 3 different settings into their IEPs. This is to make things “easier” as school status changes from virtual to hybrid to in-person. It does make things easier…for the school district. It does nothing for the parent, and in fact may violate the parents right to object to placement changes.
For example, imagine the school suddenly changed its status to full time in person school despite rising COVID-19 rates in the local area. If you signed this IEP, you would have to start taking your child to school EVEN IF YOU DISAGREED WITH THE SCHOOL BOARD’S DECISION. Even if it was unsafe, you could not keep your child out of school. At that point, if you didn’t send your kid to school he or she would be marked as absent. That opens the door for truancy actions and other unpleasantness.
My main question here is “what is stay-put placement with three different settings?” Followed closely by “can you legally agree to 3 different settings? I don’t know, because I’m not a judge or a lawyer. That said, I like simplicity. I advise folks to agree to one placement, not two or three. So again, DO NOT SIGN YOUR CHILD’S IEP.
SO WHAT CAN I DO IF I DON’T SIGN THE IEP?
You can write a partial acceptance letter. Write down what you agree with and what you don’t, and use that to put services in place. It is legal, and VDOE has guidance for the schools advising them that it is a valid form of IEP acceptance.
If you need help drafting a partial acceptance letter, I just added that to my services in my IEP Coach Shop. Click on this link if you want me to assist you in drafting a good letter. That will take you to my shop, where I’ll be adding products like this periodically. I opted to release this one first because I see this as a high demand item right now.
Good luck, and I’m here if you need me! Email me at Ray@NelsonAdvocacy.com if you want a free 20 minute consultation!