Parents on the IEP Team

Picture of a mom watching as her daughter puts money into a piggybank.September 2010
A legacy resource from NICHCY

This information in Spanish | Esta información en español


Parents have been recognized as vital members of the IEP Team since the passage of Public Law 94-142 in 1975. Everyone agrees that parents have an enduring and passionate interest in the well-being and education of their child.

So it makes perfect sense that Congress would ensure that parents are represented on the IEP Team, front and center. The school must invite the parents to the IEP meeting early enough to ensure that one or both parents have the opportunity to attend and participate. The notice must include:

  • the purpose of the meeting,
  • its time, and location, and
  • who will attend.

Typically, parents know their child very well—not just the child’s strengths and weaknesses, but all the little qualities that make their child unique. Parents’ knowledge can keep the team focused on the “big picture” of the child; they can help the team to create an IEP that will work appropriately for the child. Parents can describe what goals are most important to them and to their child, share their concerns and suggestions for enhancing their child’s education, and give insights into their son or daughter’s interests, likes and dislikes, and learning styles. By being an active IEP team member, parents can also infuse the IEP planning process with thought about long-term needs for the child’s successful adult life.

Being actively involved in developing their child’s IEP is a parent’s right and a parent’s choice. This means that the school system must:

  • notify parents of the meeting early enough to ensure that one or both of the parents have an opportunity to attend [§300.322(a)(1)];
  • schedule the meeting at a mutually agreed on time and place [§300.322(a)(2)]; and
  • take whatever action is necessary to ensure that the parent understands the proceedings of the meeting, including arranging for an interpreter for parents with deafness or whose native language is other than English [§300.322(e)].

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