Parents have strong rights in the special education process, by law. But parents may not know what these rights are or how to use them.
Here is a list of the top five parental rights in the IEP process:
1. Parental Consent – School divisions must obtain informed parental consent at various points in the special education process before taking certain actions. Parental consent rights vary by state. In Virginia, these rights are particularly robust.
2. Parent Participation – Parents are mandatory members of the team that determines initial eligibility for special education, re-eligibility for special education, and develops the IEP. School divisions must ensure parents have the opportunity to participate in their child’s IEP meetings.
3. Request for Evaluation – Parents may initiate a request for an evaluation to determine whether their child is eligible for special education.
4. Opportunity to Examine Special Education Records – Parents have the right to examine school records regarding their child’s special education eligibility and program.
5. Independent Evaluation – Parents can obtain an independent education evaluation of their child, either at public (school division) expense or at their own expense. The school division does not have to follow the recommendations in an independent evaluation, but it does need to consider it.
These are not the only rights that parents have. To learn more about parents’ special education rights in your state, check your state’s Procedural Safeguards or contact your state’s parent protection and advocacy center.