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5 IEP Myths - Debunked

advocacy iep special education training
Facts to the right, myths to the left.  The truth about IEPs.

We’re going to de-bunk some myths and give you straight facts about IEPs, the process, the meeting and the team.


These are all things I’ve heard parents say about IEPs, some of which I may have believed myself at one point.  Don’t worry, we’re going to give you the facts too, along with some best practices when you are unsure which is which.


Myth #1

“The school has the IEP ready when I get to the meeting, all I have to do is show up, listen to them read it and sign it.  Can’t they just mail me a copy?”

So, this is the most common misconception I hear from parents, and possibly the most damaging.  Not only do you have a right to be included in the development of the IEP, but you have a requirement and a responsibility to be involved.


  • Parents are the most important part of the IEP team, because of all the team members you are the constant.  Over the life of the IEP, classrooms, schools, teachers and support staff may change, but you are the constant.
  • Parents have the best knowledge of their child’s strengths and needs; your input is critical to developing an IEP that works for your child.
  • The education team might produce a draft IEP to work from and review during the meeting, but the decisions regarding the final IEP are made at (and sometimes after) the actual meeting.
  • Some states or school districts only require the parent’s involvement in the development of the IEP, no signature unless it’s the initial IEP.


Myth #2

“I only get one shot a year at the annual IEP meeting to request any changes.”  And  “I don’t know if my child is making progress until the IEP meeting.”


  • IEP meetings are required to be held once a year at minimum.   Interim meetings may be requested by the parent, teacher or special service provider and do not replace the required annual meeting.
  • You have the right to review and request revisions to the IEP at any time, the school may NOT tell you “we can’t” or “we don’t have to”.
  • Revisions to the IEP don’t always require a formal IEP meeting but do require the revision be in writing with an agreement by the entire team.
  • Parents should receive periodic progress reports, usually when report cards are issued.  Make sure you ask when and how the progress is going to be reported.


Your child’s IEP requires that he or she be taught in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) according to his or her individual needs.


  • Schools are required to educate children with disabilities in the same classroom as children without disabilities unless your child’s individual needs can not be met in that classroom with appropriate accommodations, modifications and services.
  • Education placement can be provided in; regular education classes, special classes, special schools, home instruction or in hospitals and institutions.  But, always in the LRE by a highly qualified teacher.
  • If a school can not provide an appropriate education according to your child’s individual needs in the school, they must provide alternative placement without cost to the parent.
  • The school can not change your child’s placement without providing written notice which must; describe the change, give the reason, define the evaluation procedure the change is based on, include a statement of procedural safeguards for the parents, ensure the parents understand the change by providing additional resources if needed, disclose the alternative placements that were considered and why they were rejected over the proposed change and describe the factors that lead to the proposed change.


Myth #4

“I was told my child was on a waiting list to receive services because there is a staffing shortage.”

Um no.  Just no.


  • Schools must implement written IEPs as soon as possible but within 30 calendar days of determining the child qualifies for special education services.
  • If a school doesn’t have the resources needed to provide the required accommodations, modifications and services then they must come up with appropriate alternatives, i.e., private instruction paid for by the district, services at another facility, similar services as appropriate, etc.
  • Your child is entitled to compensatory education to make up for the missed services.


Myth #5

“If it’s on the IEP then it’s going to get done.”


Let’s assume for the sake of argument that ALL school districts and EVERY educator have the best interests of your child at the top of their priority list.  We are human, mistakes get made, there’s only so much time in the day, distractions……yada, yada, yada. 

Referring to Facts under Myth #1 – Parents have a requirement to be on the team!  You have a right to ask questions!   You have a responsibility to your child to ensure he is receiving an appropriate education according to his individual needs.

Communication between you and the school is the best way to ensure that the IEP is being implemented appropriately, problems are resolved quickly and easily, and your child gets the benefit of all of it.



Remember that this is a short article with a ton of information, full volumes can and have been written on each myth or fact. 

You have the right to educate yourself to be able to advocate fully for your child.  If you'd like to really Up your IEP game, schedule your FREE 20 minute consultation to learn how I can help you become your child's BEST advocate!



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