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I teach special education in Nevada, and today we held an IEP meeting that lasted hours. The meeting lasted long because the parents had concerns because we were changing their son’s placement. I wanted to be sure the parents understood, and so I carefully reviewed their questions, etc. I felt they and their child deserved to have as much time as they needed for this important meeting. I was reprimanded by my administration, who said that IEP meetings must be short. What does the law say on this? Shouldn’t parents be allowed enough time and opportunity to understand the process and what they are agreeing to?

Dear Carrie:

There is no legal basis to arbitrarily limit the length of time of an IEP meeting. If the time constraints of the school necessitate ending a meeting without enough time being available for the meeting to be properly conducted or for legitimate discussion by staff and/or parents to take place, the meeting should be adjourned but rescheduled at a mutually convenient time and place to allow the IEP team to adequately conduct its work.

The law is clear that parents must be given a “meaningful opportunity” for participation in the IEP process. While this is subjective, it appears that you felt that the parents’ questions and concerns were legitimate and justified further discussion. As such, it would seem that more time was needed for them to have a “meaningful opportunity” to have their concerns addressed. As for your effort to achieve this, schools should not punish or reprimand school staff for following IDEA procedures or for attempting to raise appropriate concerns about the process or the needs of the child. In fact, a recent court decision ruled that a teacher was improperly punished for attempting to insure that the rights of the students and parents were being properly protected.

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