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Hi Matt,

My child is 7 years old and the school wants him to get in the IEP program. I wanted to know if it will be confidential. Who will know? How will it affect his future? And can I get the IEP removed at anytime? Please let me know….

Thank you, Susan

Dear Susan:

A student’s school records, including their special education status, are protected from unauthorized disclosure without parental consent under several federal laws and most state laws. In the real world, these legal protections are not always completely effective, even where the school is trying to maintain confidentiality, as errors are made in record-keeping or disclosure of records that result in unauthorized disclosures.

Further, in some situations, it is operationally impossible to totally protect confidentiality. For example, if the student is participating in a special education program or receiving services from special education staff, other people (adults and students) may figure it out simply from observation.

With respect to your question of whether you may remove your child from special education at any time, the law recently changed in this regard. Prior to 2008, a parent could not remove a child from special education back into regular education without the school’s agreement or an order from a hearing officer. However, in 2008, the U.S. Department of Education amended the federal special education regulations to provide that parents now have an absolute right to withdraw their child from special education at any time.

That said, if the parents make this choice, the school district is no longer obligated to provide the child special ed services and cannot later be held legally responsible by the parents for the school’s failure to provide an appropriate special education program.

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