Guidance for Families about Special Education Services
A student with an IEP, or Individualized Education Program, benefits when school staff and families communicate well. Poor communication between school staff and families wrongly shifts attention away from working collaboratively to support the student. Most disputes are best resolved informally. However, formal dispute resolution options are available to parents when informal efforts to resolve issues are not successful.
A parent or guardian may formalize a disagreement with the district regarding their child’s IEP in three ways. These three options are referred to as dispute resolution options:
Key points to keep in mind:
- Ideally the IEP team (which includes parents) agrees about a student's educational program, including services and placement.
- When parents and districts are unable to resolve differences about the contents of the IEP, it is the role of the district to make a final offer of what they believe to be an appropriate educational program for the student. The district is required to communicate their offer with prior written notice.
- Parents can formalize their disagreement with the district's proposed educational program in three ways only-- mediation, citizen complaint, or due process hearing.
- The three dispute resolution options can also be utilized if a parent believes the district has failed to provide a service identified on their child's IEP or when a parent believes the district has not met any other federal or state requirements related to special education.