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Section 5

ak dept education

special ed handbook
SECTION 5
PARENT PARTICIPATIONThe District must take steps to ensure that one or both parents of the child with a disability are present at the IEP meeting, or are afforded the opportunity to participate including:
  1. Scheduling the meeting at a mutually agreed upon date, time, and place.
  2. Inviting the parents to the meeting at least 10 school days in advance unless the parents and district agree to an earlier date, or unless emergency circumstances in which disciplinary or safety issues require a meeting to be held at an earlier time.
  3. Arranging individual telephone conference calls with parents if they are unable to attend.
Invitation to IEP Team Meeting

The invitation to the IEP meeting must indicate the purpose, time, and location of the meeting, as well as those who have been invited to attend and their role. The invitation can be either written or oral, and the District must keep a record of its efforts to contact the parents (Appendix D contains sample invitation forms). The District should also inform the parents of their right to bring other participants to the meeting. A copy of the Notice of Procedural Safeguards must be given to the parents upon notification of an IEP meeting.

If the meeting is to consider transition services for a child who is 16, or younger when appropriate, the notice must state this and indicate that the child will be invited along with personnel from other agencies who might be involved in the child's transition plan.

Note: A meeting does not include informal or unscheduled conversations among district personnel on issues not in the child's IEP, or preparatory activities that district staff engage in to develop a proposal or response to a parent proposal that will be discussed at a later meeting.

Only parents, guardians, or a person acting as a parent or surrogate parent can represent parents at an IEP meeting.

A parent or guardian of a child with disabilities must be invited to attend all IEP meetings. If the child is a ward of the state, or parents or guardians cannot be located, the District must appoint a surrogate parent (see Part VII, Section 7). If the child is a ward of the state, the child's parents must be given the opportunity to participate in the IEP meetings unless the parents' right to oversee the education of their child has been severed by the courts. Parents of a child who is a ward of the state may not sign as guardian. In this case, the District-appointed surrogate parent must be invited to the IEP meetings. If a parent's rights have not been severed, a natural parent may be trained and serve as the surrogate parent.

Note: A parent's signature on an IEP only indicates participation. Parental signature is not to be construed as an indication of agreement or disagreement with the IEP. The District must implement the IEP regardless of the parents' signature.

Documenting Attempts to Arrange IEP Meetings with Parents

An IEP meeting can be conducted without a parent in attendance if the District is unable to convince the parents that they should attend. Districts must make a concerted effort to ensure parent participation; one letter or one telephone call is not sufficient.

The District must keep a record of its attempts to arrange a mutually agreed upon date, time, and place including:
  1. Detailed records of telephone calls made or attempted, and the results of those calls (see Appendix D for sample Written Invitations to IEP meetings).
  2. Copies of correspondence sent to the parents and any responses received.
  3. Detailed records of visits made to the parent's home or place of employment, and the results of those visits.
Parents must be given a copy of the completed IEP regardless of whether they attend the IEP meeting. The District must document that this was done. The copy of the IEP shall be provided at no cost to the parent.

Prior Written Notice in Relation to IEP Meetings

The invitation to an IEP meeting should not be confused with the requirements for providing prior written notice to parents (see Part VII, Section 3). A sample of a Prior Written Notice is in Appendix E. The following procedures apply to the provision of prior written notice in relation to IEP meetings:
  1. If parents are invited but do not attend an IEP meeting and changes are made in the IEP, provide written notice to the parents using the Prior Written Notice letter (see Appendix E) and attach a copy of the revised copy of the IEP.
  2. If parents attend the IEP meeting and agree with the District on the IEP, prior written notice must be provided if there has been any change in placement or the provision of a free appropriate public education (i.e., the IEP).
  3. If parents attend the IEP meeting but disagree with the District on the IEP, prior written notice must be provided to the parents at the meeting using the Prior Written Notice Letter.
  4. Parents can elect to receive notice through electronic formats if the LEA makes such an option available.

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