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How to Agree or Disagree with Your Child's IEP

Read this page to learn what you can do if you don't agree with your child's IEP.

After you and your IEP team write the IEP, you will get a paper that asks if you agree or disagree with it. This paper is called a "notice."

Here's what you do if you agree:

  • Sign or check the place where it says, "I Agree."
    • Teachers and therapists will start working with your child on her IEP goals.
    • Your child will start to get services.

Here's what you do if you disagree:

  1. Sign or check the place where it says, "I Disagree."
    • If you don't do this, the school will think that you agree.
  2. You can ask for mediation or a due process hearing to solve the problem.
    • Your child's teachers and therapists will still follow your child's old IEP (the last one you agreed to).
    • They will do that until you solve the problems with your new IEP.
  3. Your last resort would be to file a complaint with the office of civil rights. You should only do this if you think the school is discriminating against your child because he is deaf.

What mediation is and how it works

  • Mediation is a way to solve problems with your child's IEP.
  • In mediation, you talk with an "impartial" person who is trained to help solve problems with education:
    • The mediator will listen to you and the school. She'll try to help all of you agree about what your child needs.
    • This person doesn't work for the school.
  • Neither you nor the school can have a lawyer at a mediation meeting.
  • On your notice after your IEP meeting, there should be a place to ask for a mediation meeting.
    • If there isn't, write a letter to the school and ask for a mediation meeting.
  • If you go for mediation, you should be willing to "give" on some points.
    • The mediator will try to work with both you AND the school.

What a due process hearing is and how it works

  • A due process hearing is another way to solve problems with the school.
    • It's like going to court.
    • A judge called a "hearing officer" listens to parents and the school and/or their lawyers about what is wrong with the IEP.
    • The hearing officer then makes a decision about who is right.
  • The notice that you get after your child's IEP meeting should have a place on it where you can ask for a due process hearing. Write a letter to the school asking for the due process hearing. You must tell the school:
    • Your child's name
    • Your child's address
    • The name of your child's school
    • The reason you want a due process hearing
    • How you would like to solve the problem
  • After you ask for a hearing, you can have it within 45 days.
    • Your state may also have some rules about when things have to be done.

Your rights in the due process hearing
In the due process hearing, you have the right to:

  • Hire a lawyer
    • For a list of lawyers, call your state's bar association.
    • Ask for someone who specializes in educational law.
    • You may also have to hire expert witnesses to prove your points.
    • If you win, you can ask the hearing officer to pay you back for money you spent to hire a lawyer or other people who helped you. The school may pay all your lawyer's fees. But if you win just some points of your case, the school may not pay for all of them. And if you lose, you won't get any of that money back.
    • The school must give you a list of free or low-cost lawyers or other people who can help you if you ask. But you can go to a due process hearing without a lawyer.
  • Come with and get advice from someone trained to work with children with hearing loss to speak about what your child needs. This person is called an advocate.
  • Show the hearing officer evidence of what you say is the problem.
  • Get witnesses and ask them questions during the hearing.
  • Make your arguments on paper and in the court.
  • Ask for a free transcript of the hearing. A transcript is a written record of everything people said in the hearing.
  • Stop the other side from showing evidence that they didn't tell you about at least 5 days before the hearing.
  • Appeal the decision. If you don't like what the hearing officer decides, you can go to the next court 1 level up and see what they say.

How you file a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights

  • If mediation or due process doesn't work for you, file a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights.
    • You can tell them that your child is being discriminated against.
    • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1974 protects the rights of people with disabilities.
  • But filing a complaint will take a long time.
    • The Office of Civil Rights has 120 days to look into your case.
    • Also, if you are in the middle of mediation or due process, they will wait until that's finished to start working on your case.

Learn more about mediation
Check out the Education Law Center's publications on procedural safeguards. (It's towards the bottom of the page.)

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