Parental Rights

Procedural Safeguards for Parents

Each child has the right to a free and appropriate public school ( education in the United States. Certain rights are federally mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), amended in 2004, which includes specific rights for parents or legal guardians of children with disabilities.

  • Parents can refuse to consent to decisions about their child's classification, evaluation or placement.
  • Parents can refuse to sign an IEP document.
  • Parents have the right to request that their child be assessed for special education services without delay. 
  • Parents have the right to list all of their concerns in the IEP. 
  • Parents have a right to request a new IEP meeting be held within 30 days of a written request when an IEP is already in place. 
  • Parents have the right to bring any person to an IEP meeting with knowledge of the child or the child’s disability including advocates and attorneys. 
  • Parents have the right to review and receive copies of a child’s educational records. 
  • Parents must be notified in writing (Prior Written Notice) before an evaluation, re-evaluation, or change in a child's classification or placement.
  • Schools must advise parents or guardians of their rights in their native language or provide an interpreter to ensure that parents understand rights.
  • States have a summary of parental and student rights, policies, and procedures related to special education. These are usually available in the form of pamphlets or booklets.
  • Parents must be fully informed about their rights in the special education process.
  • Parents must give "informed consent,” meaning that parents understand and agree with the decisions, before an initial evaluation or placement.
  • Parents must be invited to attend and participate in any meetings in which a child's education is being discussed.
  • Parents can tape record meetings.
  • Parents must be kept informed of their child's progress at least as often as parents of non-disabled children.
  • Parents can examine their child's educational records, have them explained, and request that information that is inaccurate or inappropriate be corrected.
  • Under IDEA, a child's parents hold the child's educational rights. Parents keep those rights until:

    • The child reaches the age of majority based on state regulations.
    • The parents' or guardian's rights are terminated through a court proceeding.
    • One parent may be awarded educational decision-making rights in a divorce decree or settlement.
  • Upon reaching the age of majority, a student with a disability retains rights under IDEA until or unless:

    • Graduation.
    • Aging out of school program (states have different regulations).
    • Dropping out of school or becoming home-schooled. Districts will periodically send reminders to the student and parent or guardian that special education programs are available to them should the child re-enroll. If the child re-enrolls, rights remain in place until graduation or aging out of program.
    • Being found legally incompetent in court. In this case, rights go to the parent or legal guardian. In cases where there is no parent or legal guardian, the courts may appoint a case manager to oversee a student’s life.