Student Attendance at IEP Meetings

Apr 16, 2023 | Advocacy, IEP

IEPs are all about the student with the disability. So when does a student attend their own IEP meeting?

As a legal matter, the IEP team includes the child with a disability “whenever appropriate.” The school division must invite the student to the meeting when the team will discuss postsecondary goals and transition services. In Virginia, an IEP must include postsecondary goals and transition services when the student turns 14 years old, or younger if the team deems it appropriate. (Age requirements vary by state.) The school division must notify the parents via the meeting notice that a purpose of the meeting will be consideration of postsecondary goals and transition services and that the student is invited to attend the meeting.

This does not mean the student has to accept the invitation. If the student does not attend the meeting, the school division must take other steps to ensure the team considers the child’s preferences and interests.

Until the child reaches the age of majority (which is 18 years of age in Virginia and most other states), the parents can decide if they want their child to attend the IEP meeting or not. There are many factors to consider, including the child’s age, maturity and self-advocacy skills, the IEP team dynamics, the parents’ goals for the meeting, and the comfort level and preferences of the child.

If the child does not attend, there are other ways they can provide input into their IEP. For instance, students could provide a written statement or a video. They could talk with their parents ahead of time so their parents can provide input on their behalf. A student could also attend the first part of the meeting to provide their input and then leave.

Parents should pay attention to the list of invitees on the IEP meeting notice, then carefully consider whether their child should attend the meeting and how to provide their input to the team.