Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates
Protecting the Legal and Civil Rights of Students with Disabilities
|The Importance of the IEP Process|
"IDEA confers upon disabled students an enforceable substantive right to public education.” Honig v. Doe, 484 U.S. 307, 310 (1988). These rights are interpreted by "[t]he goals of IDEIA [which] include ‘ensur[ing] that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education' and ‘ensur[ing] that the rights of children with disabilities and parents of such children are protected.'" Winkelman v. Parma City Sch. Dist., 47 IDELR 281, 550 U.S. 516, 538 127 S. Ct. 1994 (2006).
The core of the statute, however, "is the cooperative process that it establishes between parents and schools.Rowley, supra, at 205-206. ("Congress placed every bit as much emphasis upon at 205-206. ("Congress placed every bit as much emphasis upon compliance with procedures giving parents and guardians a large measure of participation at every stage of the administrative process, ... as it did upon the measurement of the resulting IEP against a substantive standard”).
"The central vehicle for this collaboration is the IEP process.” Weast v. Schaffer, 546 U.S. 49, 53, 126 S.Ct. 528, 532 (2005). The "IEP is more than a mere exercise in public relations, it forms the basis of the handicapped child's entitlement to an individualized and appropriate education.” GARC v. McDaniel, 716 F.2d 1565, 1571 (11th Cir. 1983).
Envisioning the IEP as the centerpiece of the statute's education delivery system for children with disabilities andaware that schools had all too often denied such children appropriate educations without in any way consulting their parents, Congress repeatedly emphasized throughout the Act the importance and indeed the necessity of parental participation in both the development of the IEP and any subsequent assessments of its effectiveness.
Honig, 484 U.S. at 331.
. . . we think that the importance Congress attached to these procedural safeguards cannot be gainsaid. It seems to us no exaggeration to say the Congress placed every bit as much emphasis upon compliance with procedures giving parents and guardians a large measure of participation at every stage of the administrative process as it did upon the measurement of the resulting IEP against a substantive standard.
Board of Educ. v. Rowley, 458 U.S. 176, 205-206 (1982). "Congress appears to have presumed instead that, if the Act's procedural requirements are respected, parents will prevail when they have legitimate grievances.” Weast v. Schaffer, 126 S.Ct. at 536.presumed instead that, if the Act's procedural requirements are respected, parents will prevail when they have legitimate grievances.” Weast v. Schaffer, 126 S.Ct. at 536.
"Congress made clear that the Act Itself represents an exercise in cooperative federalism.” Schaffer, 546 U.S. at 57, 126 S. Ct. at 542, 531. This means that many practices are left to the states but these must not limit or interfere in the exercise of IDEA rights. The EHA first passed in 1975 altered the landscape of services for children with impairments. It required new services, rights and programs. Local practice can expand these rights but where they attempt to limit them, including the limitation of opinion, the informed parent must question the procedures, or elect to navigate within them.
If the "core” of the IDEA is the "cooperative process” it establishes between parents and schools, Schaffer, 546 U.S. at 51, 532, the parent must operate within that process,and find a "voice” they can use as parent and advocate, but still move the program and team towards appropriate services. The IDEA carefully regulates and protects the child and parents' rights in the IEP process. Effective management of a program of special education requires understanding and managing the IEP procedures. Parents, guardians, children with disabilities, advocates and attorneys should focus on and be able to navigate the IEP Process. - 3 -
More Information on IEP Meeting
© COPAA - Jonathan Zimring The IEP Process (2010)
6/1/2016 » 6/1/2017
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7/14/2016 » 7/14/2017
2016 Webinar Series 1: IEP's and Their Components, What You Should Know
8/11/2016 » 7/25/2017
2016 Webinar Series 2: Access to FAPE
9/1/2016 » 12/1/2016
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