Friday, August 17, 2012

Should You Excuse an AEA Consultant from an IEP Meeting?

I frequently receive questions from parents asking about whether specific teachers or consultants “must” attend IEP meetings.   Here are a few questions and responses:

Question 1:  I went to my son’s IEP meeting which had called to discuss changing his speech therapy services.  The speech and language pathologist (SLP) who has been doing his therapy was on the list of people who were supposed to be at the meeting.  When I arrived, the area education agency facilitator (a former AEA social worker) asked me to sign a form excusing the SLP’s attendance because he had excused the SLP from the meeting.  I responded that I should have been asked to excuse the SLP before he held the meeting, and that I would have said no and asked that it be scheduled when she was available.  The facilitator said it didn’t matter whether the SLP could come because he had received an email report from her.  I didn’t sign the excuse form, the emailed report wasn’t helpful, and the meeting was a waste of time (and used up two hours of my vacation time).   Can I keep this from happening again? 
Answer:   To keep this from happening again, you may want to try sending a copy of the following answer to the members of your son’s IEP team. 
The AEA facilitator had no business excusing the SLP and convening the meeting without her.  As soon as he knew of the SLP’s unavailability, he should have asked you if you were willing to excuse her, and if you said no, the meeting should have been re-scheduled for a time the SLP could attend. 
Parents have no obligation to excuse a specified teacher or area education agency consultant from an IEP meeting.  They should not do so if there any chance that the person’s expertise and knowledge apply to IEP topic that may be discussed or modified at the meeting. 
Congress felt so strongly about this that the IDEA and its implementing regulations require that if the IEP Team will discuss or modify any part of a child’s IEP related to the area of expertise of the Team member seeking to be excused, that before the parent makes written consent to excusing that member, the school district must first:
(a)          fully inform the parent of all information relevant the excusing the specific type of person, and must do this in the parent’s native language, or other mode of communication.  
(b)          make sure that the parent consents in writing to the excusing the required person, and the consent writing describes the specific meeting for which the excuse applies.
(c)           make sure the parent understands that his or her granting of consent is voluntary and may be revoked at any time.
A member of an IEP may be excused from attending an IEP meeting, in whole or in part, if the meeting involves a modification to or discussion of the member’s area of the curriculum or related services, if: 
(1)  the parent, in writing, and the public agency consent to the excusal; and
(2)  the member submits, in writing to the parent and the IEP team, input into the development of the IEP prior to the meeting.

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