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Frequently Asked Questions: Parent Participation

When must parents be included in meetings?

Parents must be provided the opportunity to participate in meetings with respect to the identification, evaluation, educational placement and provision of FAPE to the child. This includes, but is not limited to, eligibility determination meetings, IEP meetings, and, if a meeting is held, review of existing data meetings.

Are there times when district personnel are meeting to discuss issues surrounding a child with an IEP that the parent would not have to be invited to participate?

Yes. According to the regulations implementing IDEA,( http://www2.ed.gov/legislation/FedRegister/finrule/2006-3/081406a.pdf) a “meeting” does not include informal or unscheduled conversations involving public agency personnel and conversations on issues such as teaching methodology, lesson plans, or coordination of service provision if those issues are not addressed in the child’s IEP. A “meeting” also does not include preparatory activities that public agency personnel engage in to develop a proposal or response to a parent proposal that will be discussed at a later meeting. Again, if a meeting is held to review existing data, the parent must be invited to participate. The basic rule of thumb is that, if a meeting is being held to make a final decision regarding the identification, evaluation, placement or provision of FAPE, the parent must be provided the opportunity to participate.

What steps must a public agency take to demonstrate that they have provided the parent(s) with an opportunity to participate in a meeting?

State regulations require the public agency to make two attempts to convince the parent to attend a meeting before they hold the meeting without the parent in attendance. On each attempt, the agency must provide the parent with at least ten (10) calendar days prior notification unless the parent agrees to hold the meeting sooner.

A direct contact with the parent/guardian is not required for the first attempt to schedule a meeting. A public agency could have the child take the meeting notification home from school or send a message via e-mail. The second attempt to schedule a meeting must be a direct contact with the parent/guardian.

A direct contact IS:

Phone contact 
Face to face contact 
US Mail- regular or certified 

A direct contact IS NOT:

Voice mail 
Hand carried by student 
Answering machine 

How many days are required for a public agency to notify parents for a meeting?

Ten (10) calendar days prior notification is required unless the parent waives this time frame.

How many days after the eligibility staffing does a public agency have to hold an IEP meeting?

According to state regulations, there are no exceptions to the requirement for holding the IEP meeting within thirty (30) days of the date of the eligibility determination staffing.

When meeting compliance timelines is an issue, is waiting to establish a date that will work for everyone that needs to participate in the meeting an acceptable justification to go beyond timelines?

When timelines are an issue, waiting to establish a date that will work for everyone on the team would not be an acceptable justification to go beyond the date. However, the public agency must begin the process of scheduling the meeting in sufficient time to allow for two attempts to be made if necessary. 

Is the public agency required to schedule IEP meetings to accommodate the schedule(s) of others that the parents want to include in the meeting (e.g., advocates)?

Parents have the right to invite others to an IEP meeting. The school needs to follow the procedures using two (2) attempts if necessary to accommodate the parents’ schedule. If it is possible within those parameters to arrange a time that works for the people the parents want to invite, that would be advisable, but is not required.

If the public agency proposed a number of dates at one time, does that equate to more than one attempt?

If this is the public agency’s first attempt and the public agency is trying to negotiate by phone or in person and the parent will not accept any dates presented, the district should set a date and count it as the first attempt. The fact that the district proposed a number of dates at one time does not equate to more than one attempt to hold a meeting. 

If the public agency suspends a meeting and needs to schedule another one, is the agency required to make two attempts before that meeting can be held?

When it is necessary to suspend a meeting and continue at another time, the agency should try to schedule the next meeting as soon as possible. The agency should try to stay within required timelines, but the requirement for two (2) attempts to schedule a meeting still applies in this case. 

What are the requirements related to parent participation in Resolution Meetings scheduled in conjunction with due process complaints?

Within 15 days of receiving notice of the parent’s due process complaint, and prior to the initiation of a due process hearing, the public agency must convene a meeting with the parent and the relevant member(s) of the IEP Team who have specific knowledge of the facts identified in the complaint. The Purpose of the meeting is for the parent of the child to discuss the due process complaint, and the facts that form the basis of the due process complaint, so that the public agency has the opportunity to resolve the dispute that is the basis for the complaint.

Since the timelines are so short for Resolution Meetings, the public agency is not expected to give the parent two opportunities to attend with 10 days allowed for each date proposed. However, reasonable efforts must be made to obtain parental participation, and these efforts must be documented.

If the LEA is unable to obtain the participation of the parent in the resolution meeting after reasonable efforts have been made and documented, the LEA may, at the conclusion of the 30 day resolution period, request that the hearing chair dismiss the parent’s due process complaint. In these cases, the LEA must keep a record of its attempts to arrange mutually agreed on time and place, such as detailed records of telephone calls made or attempted and the results of those calls; copies of correspondence sent to the parents and any responses received, and/or detailed records of visits made to the parent’s home or place of employment and the results of those visits.