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Parent Special Education Information

PACER is the Minnesota Parent Training and Information Center, funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs.

Parent Action

Prior Written Notice and Parental Consent/Objection

School districts are required to implement the IEP as soon as possible following the meeting. The IEP must be written and provided to you within 14 calendar days of the proposed start of the IEP services. Read it and ask yourself, “Is this IEP an appropriate step toward a productive and independent life for my child?” Your answer to this question will guide your decision to agree or disagree with the IEP.

You will receive two forms along with the IEP proposal. One is Prior Written Notice, which describes what the school proposes or refuses to do. It is given to you “prior,” or before, the proposed services are to begin. If the notice only includes a refusal of something you asked to be in the IEP, it must be sent or given to you within 14 calendar days of your request. The IEP team must document its decisions on the Prior Written Notice, including:

  • A description of the action the school proposes or refuses
  • An explanation of why the proposal or refusal was made
  • A description of the evaluations, assessments, records, or reports used to make the decision
  • A description of other options considered
  • A description of other factors affecting the proposal or refusal
  • Resources for parents to contact for help in understanding IDEA

The Prior Written Notice will give you more information about what is or is not in the IEP. There is no required form, but the notice must be in writing and cover all the required components.

You also will receive a Parental Consent/Objection Form. If you agree with the IEP, check “yes” and sign the form. If you disagree with the entire proposed IEP, check “no” and sign the form to begin the process of resolving your disagreement. If you agree with some, but not all, of the proposed IEP, write that you agree with some of the proposals and also note the proposals with which you disagree (some forms include a specific place for this; others may not).

The school should begin the services you agree with and set up the process of resolving your disagreement. (For information on methods to resolve disagreements, you can contact PACER Center.) Parents and students 18 or older who have had rights transferred to them are the only people who can legally consent or object to an IEP. After you consent or object, return the form to the person whose name appears on the form.

For initial IEPs, services cannot begin until you agree to the proposed program in writing. For annual IEPs, you must have the opportunity to agree or disagree with the proposed IEP. If you do not respond in writing to the proposal within 14 calendar days of when the IEP notice and consent/objection form was sent or given to you, the plan can go into effect as written.

Please note that both the Prior Written Notice and Parental Consent/Objection Form may be used for evaluation and other requests as well as for an IEP proposal.

Parents Need to Know

IEP Accountability

The IEP is a written statement of specific special education and related services that will be provided to your child. The school must make a good faith effort to help your child achieve the goals and objectives written into the IEP by providing those services.

Each regular education teacher, special education teacher, related service provider, and other service provider who is responsible for providing the services for your child must have access to the IEP. All must be informed of their specific responsibilities for providing a service, accommodation, modification, or support for the student or staff.

IEP Review and Revisions

Although all teachers and service providers must know and provide specific services for your child, there is no guarantee that your child will make progress at a planned rate. If you think your child is not making appropriate progress, you may request a meeting to ask for revisions to your child’s IEP or use other due process procedures.

A new IEP must be written at least annually. In addition, a revised IEP must be written whenever significant changes in a student’s program or placement are needed. Reasons may include:

  • Accomplishment of one or more IEP goals
  • Insufficient progress on one or more goals
  • Insufficient progress in the general education curriculum
  • Availability of new evaluation information
  • Availability of new information from parents to share with the IEP team
  • Need for a change in the site or setting where the child receives special education instruction
  • Change in the amount of special education needed to accomplish goals or objectives
  • Team determination of a need for certain intervention procedures

Any time an IEP is revised, parents should request a new copy from the case manager.

In Summary (of Entire Guide)

Because the special education process may seem complicated, it can be helpful to compare it to the building of a house. Just as the building of a house follows a logical order, beginning with a foundation or basement and ending with the roof, so does the building of a special education program.

Your child’s special education program is built from the foundation of a thorough examination of your child’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance (PLAAFP). The PLAAFP statement describes your child’s educational needs gathered from sources, including special education evaluations, school assessments, progress on current IEP goals, and regular education grades. The PLAAFP will identify your child’s identified educational needs, like the first floor of a house. This floor supports the second floor, appropriate services, to meet your child’s needs. Once appropriate services have been determined, the IEP team can select the placement (special education and related services provided in the least restrictive environment) to meet your child’s needs. It’s the final piece of the building process, the roof that caps off the “house” of your child’s special education program. Your child can receive the free appropriate public education (FAPE) to which he or she has a right when the IEP team follows this logical progression.

Image is a visualization of the house analogy. On the right is an illustration of a simple house, and on the left are labels of Present Levels PLAAFP (foundation), Needs (first floor), services (second floor), and placement (roof).

Additional Section: Who Is On My Child's IEP Team?