August 28, 2020, Daniel Clements, a Fairfax County Public School (FCPS) Assistant Principal at Robinson Secondary School sent a set of IEP meeting rules to the parents of one of the school’s students.
Although parents are considered equal IEP team members, in this case, the “rules” were set without their input and included a threat that the meeting would be shut down if the parents violated the rules.
And yet, some of the rules err on the noncompliance side of state and federal regulations.
For example, Daniel wrote:
Moreover, I want to remind you that the IEP meeting is not the place for a detailed discussions of the basis for evaluations, progress reports, or anything else that is unrelated to the services portion of the IEP.
When the parent asked about this comment, Daniel responded:
What is meant by the language you referenced is that an IEP meeting is not the place to analyze every piece of data that serves as the basis for evaluations and progress report. While an IEP meeting is where interpretations, analysis and impact can be discussed in the context of completing specific portions of an IEP, in-depth inquiries and/or discussions about disputed data are more appropriately discussed in interpretives and other meetings outside of the IEP process. To the extent parents materially dispute data which inform proposed goals, accommodations, and/or services, they can raise such disagreement similarly in meetings/fora outside of the IEP process.
8VAC20-81-110(F) sets forth what the team should consider during the development of an IEP, and nowhere in it does it authorize an extended discussion of such particularized data analysis. As we’ve discussed before, such discussion detracts from the productive momentum of IEP meetings.
Daniel states that “nowhere in it does it authorize an extended discussion of such particularized data analysis.”
He’s right. There isn’t language authorizing “extended discussion”.
However . . .
It does state:
The concerns of the parent(s) for enhancing the education of their child.
The IEP team shall consider all factors identified under a free appropriate public education in 8VAC20-81-100, as appropriate, and work toward consensus.
Stated another way: If the parents want to discuss ALL FACTORS identified under FAPE, they have the right to do so—and they have the right to bring up a previously discussed topic and ask about it again. Just this week, I attended an IEP meeting at which Jane Strong didn’t remember facts that had been previously discussed, so she had to be reminded, as did I on a few occasions.
Threatening to shut down an IEP meeting because a parent wants to revisit a topic that was already discussed or wants to thoroughly go through all of the data, is not grounds for shutting down a meeting.
What it indicates, instead, is truncation of the rights of the parents to participate.
Had Daniel quoted all of 8VAC20-81-110(F), he would have found:
F. Development, review, and revision of the IEP. (34 CFR 300.324(a))
1. In developing each child’s IEP, the IEP team shall consider:
a. The strengths of the child;
b. The concerns of the parent(s) for enhancing the education of their child;
c. The results of the initial or most recent evaluation of the child; and
d. The academic, developmental, and functional needs of the child.
2. The IEP team also shall: (34 CFR 300.324(a))
a. In the case of a child whose behavior impedes the child’s learning or that of others, consider the use of positive behavioral interventions, strategies, and supports to address the behavior;
b. In the case of a child with limited English proficiency, consider the language needs of the child as those needs relate to the child’s IEP;
c. In the case of a child who is blind or visually impaired, provide for instruction in Braille and the use of Braille unless the IEP team determines after an evaluation of the child’s reading and writing skills, needs, and appropriate reading and writing media, including an evaluation of the child’s future needs for instruction in Braille or the use of Braille, that instruction in Braille or the use of Braille is not appropriate for the child;
d. Consider the communication needs of the child;
e. Consider the child’s needs for benchmarks or short-term objectives;
f. In the case of a child who is deaf or hard of hearing, consider the child’s language and communication needs, opportunities for direct communications with peers and professional personnel in the child’s language and communication mode, academic level, and full range of needs, including opportunities for direct instruction in the child’s language and communication mode; and
g. Consider whether the child requires assistive technology devices and services.
3. If, in considering the special factors, the IEP team determines that a child needs a particular device or service, including an intervention, accommodation, or other program modification in order for the child to receive a free appropriate public education, the IEP team shall include a statement to that effect in the child’s IEP. (34 CFR 300.324(b)(2))
4. The regular education teacher of a child with a disability, as a member of the IEP team, shall participate, to the extent appropriate, in the development, review, and revision of the child’s IEP, including assisting in the determination of: (34 CFR 300.324(a)(3))
a. Appropriate positive behavioral interventions and supports and other strategies for the child; and
b. Supplementary aids and services, accommodations, program modifications or supports for school personnel that will be provided for the child.
5. Nothing in this section shall be construed to require: (34 CFR 300.320(d))
a. The IEP team to include information under one component of a child’s IEP that is already contained under another component of the child’s IEP; or
b. That additional information be included in the child’s IEP beyond what is explicitly required in this chapter.
6. The IEP team shall consider all factors identified under a free appropriate public education in 8VAC20-81-100, as appropriate, and work toward consensus. If the IEP team cannot reach consensus, the local educational agency shall provide the parent(s) with prior written notice of the local educational agency’s proposals or refusals, or both, regarding the child’s educational placement or provision of a free appropriate public education in accordance with 8VAC20-81-170 C.