Once the IEP team proposes an IEP, parents have the right to accept or reject the program, in whole or in part. Parents must indicate their response on the IEP, sign the document, and return it within 30 days of receipt. If the document is not returned within 30 days, the school may assume that the IEP has been rejected. Even if you strongly disagree with the proposed IEP or placement, it is always better to continue to communicate with the school and express your concerns in writing.
Reject in Whole or in Part?
Usually, it is better to reject only the portions of the IEP you disagree with and to accept the others. This is especially true if this is your child's first IEP. If you reject the entire first IEP, your child will not receive any special education services. Whatever services of the IEP the parents accept should be immediately implemented.
When parents reject the IEP, "stay-put" applies if the child has already been found eligible for special education services . This means that the school must continue to implement the last agreed upon IEP until parties agree otherwise or a hearing officer rules on the child's special education rights.
Referral to BSEA
When parents reject an IEP the school should refer the case to the Bureau of Special Education Appeals (BSEA). Parties can voluntarily participate in mediation. If mediation is forgone or unsuccessful, the dispute is resolved by an impartial hearing officer in a due process hearing.
While the school is required by law to refer rejected IEPs to the BSEA, this referral often does not occur. Instead, schools will convene numerous IEP meetings in the hope of resolving the disagreement. If you believe your position is strong, you also have the right to initiate a BSEA hearing. Learn more about due process hearings in Massachusetts here.