There may be a time when a school presents you with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) that you feel isn’t completely right for your child. Can you agree with some parts of the IEP but not others? The answer is yes. Here’s what to keep in mind and some guidelines to consider.
The school needs your consent to provide services.
First, here’s a little background about parental consent. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a school needs your informed written consent before it provides services to your child. When you sign the IEP, you're giving your consent that the school can start providing services. (Note that signing the IEP is different from signing the attendance sheet.)
The law allows for partial consent.
The law allows you to give partial consent to an IEP—to agree with some parts but not others. A school administrator may say to you, “If you don’t sign the whole IEP, we can’t give your child any services.” That’s not correct. If you give partial consent, the school must implement the services you agreed to. The parts of the IEP you don’t agree with cannot be implemented.
For example, let’s say the proposed IEP gives your child one hour of reading instruction per week but also requires an out-of-class behavior program. But you think your child needs two hours a week of reading instruction and you disagree with the behavior program. In writing, you can consent to the reading instruction, but not the number of hours or the behavior program.
As a result, the school won’t implement the behavior program and will provide one hour of reading instruction. You would still have to advocate for how many hours a week your child has reading instruction. You can ask for another IEP team meeting to sort out the disagreement. You also can ask for mediation or a due process hearing at which a hearing officer makes the decision.
Give partial consent using an IEP addendum.
To give partial consent to an IEP, you need to do so in writing to the school. (Keep copies of all correspondences.) One way to do this is to write on the IEP signature page that you partially consent and then attach an addendum that explains your disagreement. Here’s what you might write on the signature page:
Signature: (Your signature)
Name: (Your name)
I consent to the implementation of this IEP except for the items listed on Addendum A, attached to this IEP. My partial consent does not mean that I agree that this IEP provides my child a free appropriate public education. I reserve the right to challenge the appropriateness of the entire IEP as well as any of the items listed in Addendum A.
Another way to disagree is to simply mark up the IEP with notes. But using an addendum gives you more space to write. And it can be clearer and easier for others to read.
List all your disagreements with the IEP.
On your addendum page, you should state that you are giving partial consent to the IEP and then list the specific areas of the IEP that you disagree with. This PDF of a template addendum can get you started.
Your addendum should list every area of disagreement, not just services or accommodations. For example, if you disagree with any statements in the IEP or with something that happened during the IEP team meetings, list it here. You can also list any services from a previous IEP that the school took away. If for some reason you can’t attach the addendum, then mail it to the school with a cover letter.
An IEP is not an all-or-nothing choice. You have the right to consent to some parts of an IEP and not others. By doing so in writing, and clearly listing your disagreements with the IEP, you’ll be able to get your child services while protecting your child’s rights.