Welcome to week 3 of our ABCs of SPED series! Today we're talking about consent.
It seems like it should be obvious that you, as a parent, have a right to give or withdraw consent on behalf of your child. After all, they're a minor!
But do you really know, within the special education process, what you must give consent for and what the school is able to do without your approval? And what you need to do to withdraw consent?
After this post, you will!
First and foremost, please know that all of your rights and responsibilities surrounding consent in the IEP process are outlined in your Procedural Safeguards packet. I'm going to use this as yet another opportunity to state the obvious: you must read your procedural safeguards. Read them, know them, love them. Nothing will help you more in the IEP process than knowing your rights. I also need to include a disclaimer that I am not a lawyer, and that the content presented in this blog post is solely meant to be informational.
So what is consent in this context? It means that:
1. You've been fully informed of a proposed action (in your native language)
2. You understand and agree to the proposed action in writing
3. You understand that your agreement is voluntary and may be withdrawn at any time
Simple enough, right? Nevertheless, it's a great starting point to understand the definition and how it applies, particularly the fact that consent must be given in writing.
So what are you required to give consent to before it happens?
This means that the school cannot evaluate your student for a disability, provide any sort of specialized services, or conduct a follow-up evaluation without your written permission. Most importantly, it means that your child's very first IEP will NOT go into effect unless it is signed. This is unique to that first IEP-- after that, it can go into effect without your signature (i.e. without your consent) after a certain number of days (check your procedural safeguards for the exact number in your state).
What the school can do without your consent:
Additionally, there are circumstances under which the school may proceed with an action without your consent so long as they have made a "reasonable effort" to obtain your consent prior to proceeding. In this case, the school must keep detailed written records that show their attempts to secure your consent via phone calls, emails, home visits and even visits to you at work.
You can also withdraw consent if you no longer wish to have a certain service (or any services) provided to your child. Any withdrawal of consent must be given in writing! Did you know that it is possible to refuse to consent or revoke consent for just a part of your child's IEP? Wrightslaw discusses this point succinctly here.
And lastly, my favorite little-known tidbit surrounding IEP consent: you can make a written request to change (or amend) your child's IEP without having a full meeting (provided the annual IEP review meeting has already been held). That's right, you can waive your right to another meeting and request that the changes you suggest be reviewed without a meeting. If the team agrees, you'll be given a new consent page to sign.
That's it for this week, folks! Have you ever had any issues with giving or revoking parental consent during the special education process? Share your thoughts over on the IEP Guru Facebook page!