Experts who are responsible for the evaluation of children, education administrators, and parents gather together to announce evaluation results, determine types and service hours of special education and related services, and decide the extent of inclusive education and educational placement. Parents often do not agree with their child’s special education services as suggested or advised by the school. By law, parents have the right to respond assertively and legally to the evaluation results, the appropriateness of educational goals, inclusive educational placement, and a variety of services provided by the school. When parents do not agree with or reject the school’s actions, they have several options from which to choose.
1. An attempt to reach a consensus: Parents can try to reach agreement on the parts with which they are concerned through communication with the school. Sometimes it may be a temporary arrangement. For example, the parents and the school can try a plan regarding the child’s classroom or placement and seek a new agreement after watching the student’s performance for a period of time.
2. Request for mediation: During mediation, parents and a representative of the school district meet with a neutral third party, and then try to reach an agreement. The school may offer an alternative to resolve disputes as much as possible before entering into a legal battle.
3. Request an IEP due process hearing: If the school and parents cannot reach a decision through mediation, parents can request a due process hearing. Here, parents and the school district present written evidence about the disputed issue and have witnesses testify before a hearing officer. Hearing officers will determine how the problem should be managed (note: mediation must first be sought before an IEP due process hearing can be used).
4. Filing a complaint to the state education agency: To file a complaint, parents generally write a letter directly to the state educational institution, describing which part of the IDEA the school has violated. Within 60 days, the educational agency must resolve the complaint. With exceptional circumstances in relation to the complaint, it is allowed to extend the time limit beyond 60 days. Expressing a disagreement on educational actions unilaterally decided by the school is the legal right of people with disabilities and their parents. Since there are different levels of mediation as mentioned above, it is important to reach an agreement through positive and logical communication. Whenever parents have an objection, it is very important for them to express their concerns through notes, written letters, or emails and keep records of the date and conversation contents.