Consenting To An IEP You Don’t Agree With

Consenting To An IEP You Don’t Agree With

Most IEPs have a box for parents to check stating “I agree with all parts of the IEP or I agree with the IEP, with the exception of ______.”  Many parents believe that if they check the box, they are agreeing that the IEP provides a free appropriate public education (“FAPE”).  As a result, parents sometimes will not sign the IEP because they don’t agree with the way the goals are worded or they think their child needs more or different services from those offered in the IEP.

Because school districts take the position that legally they can only implement those portions of the IEP to which the parents agree, this can lead to a stand-off.  In some cases students are left for years without updated goals or without the benefit of services that, while not sufficient, may be better than nothing.

The fact is, however, that there is a difference between “consenting to implementation” of an IEP and “agreeing” that the IEP provides FAPE.  Simply put, a parent can consent to the implementation of goals and objectives, placement and/or services but still maintain that they are not appropriate.  Indeed, there is no contradiction between consenting to an IEP and challenging the appropriateness of that same IEP in due process.  Moreover, a parent can consent to one part of an IEP, such as some or all of the goals, but not consent to another part, such as a proposed reduction in services.

One way to make this distinction clear is to provide the IEP consent on a separate document to be attached to the IEP.  This allows the parents to specify exactly those portions of the IEP to which they are consenting, and also to state that their consent should not be interpreted as agreement that the IEP provides a FAPE.

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