Avoiding School District Attorneys at Special Education IEP Meetings: 4 Tips for Parents

You’ve got an autistic or a learning-disabled youngster, right? In the IEP sessions, are you a single parent who feels intimidated by special education staff? Your child’s next IEP meeting has been scheduled, and the school has informed you that they will be bringing an attorney with them. In other cases, special education officials claim that they would like to have their attorneys present at IEP sessions in order to intimidate parents and prevent them from requesting further assistance. If your child’s school district brings an attorney to their IEP meeting, here are four easy-to-follow parenting tips you may take to prevent this from happening.

The IDEA is silent regarding the presence of attorneys, parents, or school districts during IEP meetings. When an IEP meeting is held by the school district and the parents are unable to afford a counsel, they will not be able to participate equally in the process.

To begin, notify the school attorney in writing that you will be cancelling your child’s IEP meeting once you are aware that he or she will be attending. In addition, let them know why you’re cancelling the meeting (you can’t afford an attorney and you believe you wouldn’t be an equal participant) and that you don’t give them permission to hold the meeting without you. To ensure that if the meeting does take place, you can submit a state complaint and ask that the meeting be thrown out because it was illegal, this last portion is critical to remember:
Tip 2: Once you’ve cancelled the meeting, go to ed.gov and type in Special Education in the search bar. You can type “OSEP policy letter to Hillary Clinton July 23, 2001” into the search box when you arrive to special education.

Hillary Clinton wrote a letter to the school board asking if it was proper to invite the district’s attorney to IEP sessions. School districts can invite people who have information or expertise about the child, OSEP stated in response to Hillary’s letter. In any case, an attorney’s presence could create an environment that isn’t in the student’s best interests if the lawyer knows anything about the kid. As a result, OSEP felt forced to dissuade school district attorneys from attending IEP sessions in the best interest of the kid.

As a third step, write a letter to your school system and include copies of the Hillary Clinton Policy Letter on IEP meetings. You should ask them to reconsider inviting their lawyer to the IEP meeting. If they refuse to change their minds, proceed to Tip 4.

Make a state department of education complaint, saying that your school system is breaching IDEA by not allowing you to participate equally in your child’s IEP. Inviting their attorney to an IEP meeting with your child’s special education team is one way they accomplish this. To complete the complaint, the state has 60 days. Please include copies of all correspondence, both from and to school personnel, as well as the Hillary Clinton Policy Letter, in your formal complaint.

This has happened to me before, a few years back. This meeting has been cancelled by me, having informed the special education representative of my inability to attend. The school district decided not to bring its attorney to my son’s IEP conference after reconsidering. Without the presence of a lawyer, the meeting proceeded.

In order to prevent the school system from bringing their attorney into your child’s IEP conference, you can use these four simple tips. Thank you for reading this far and good luck with your endeavours!