Know Your Rights in the IEP Process: What Do those Procedural Safeguards Really Mean?
If you’ve ever been to an IEP meeting, you’ve (hopefully) received a copy of your rights and procedural safeguards. In fact, if you’re an old pro at IEP meetings, you might have enough copies to wallpaper a room in your house! But have you read those safeguards and know what they really mean?
The Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) explains procedural safeguards for the special education process. Those safeguards are the legal rights and protections the law gives you and your child.
You Have the Right to Expect Rights!
Sometimes you may hear people talk about “rights and responsibilities”, which can be confusing. IDEA does not outline responsibilities for parents, but rather a school’s responsibilities TO parents and students. Here’s a look at what those safeguards are and what they mean for you, your child and the school.
Your Right to Procedural Safeguards Notice
School responsibility: A school must tell you about the procedural safeguards you have under IDEA and state law. You will be given a written copy at least once a year.
It provides you the right to understand all of your protections in the IEP process. The notice must be written in a way that’s understandable to you. If necessary, it can be translated to your native language.
Your Right to Access Educational Records
School responsibility: A school has to let you see your child’s records no later than 45 days after you make a request. You can be charged a fee for copies, but not for the time it took to find and pull your child’s records.
Your Right to Confidentiality
School responsibility: A school must protect certain types of personal information about your child and, in some cases, get your permission before sharing.
It provides you the right to know the laws about what information is disclosed to whom, in what form and under what circumstance.
Your Right to Parental Participation
School responsibility: A school must make every effort to include you in meetings about your child’s education. That includes providing advance notice of meetings and trying to schedule them at a time you can attend.
It provides you the right to be an equal participant in meetings about your child’s identification, evaluation, and educational placement. It also means you can know who else will be attending meetings. You may also invite anyone you think has “special knowledge or expertise” about your child.