I hear a lot of questions about IEPs but one of the most common questions I hear is, “Should I sign the IEP?”
The rules and laws vary from state to state, but you should ultimately always sign the IEP. It doesn’t mean you HAVE to, and you might not always agree with everything in the IEP but there should be at least something that you agree with enough to sign it.
If you’re attending your first IEP, you DO have to sign it because services cannot begin until you have signed the IEP and it will not be official. Remember, this is a legal document.
But if you already have an IEP on record and you don’t sign the new one, previous services will remain in effect until you sign the new one – in most states.
You can also sign PART of the IEP, meaning you agree to some of what’s included but not everything. Make sure you clearly state on the IEP what parts you agree with and what you don’t before signing it. By signing part of it, any new or changed services that you agree with can begin immediately. Again, in most states.
If you disagree with any part of the IEP, document it and schedule another meeting to discuss what would make this better. At that time you can sign the IEP authorizing everything to take effect.
Probably the most important thing to note is that you don’t have to sign the IEP at the IEP Meeting. In fact, it’s a good idea not to sign it at the meeting. Some schools may pressure you to sign it immediately but you don’t have to. Take it home and review it. Make notes of anything you don’t understand and ask for help if you need it.
There is a lot of information presented at an IEP and much of it can be confusing, even if you have already attended many of them. There is almost always a time constraint at every meeting, and with different teachers coming in and out of the meeting and papers being shuffled back and forth to be signed, you probably won’t have a clear head. Take it home and spend some time with it when you have a clear head.
Let’s be honest, after most parents sign an IEP, they will not look at it again until the following year at the next IEP. By not signing it at the meeting, you will take it home and actually read it. You will gain a better understanding of what is actually in the IEP and you will better understand the services your child will be receiving.
After you feel comfortable with everything, sign the IEP and return it to the school as soon as possible so services can begin. Keep in mind that at any time you can call a meeting with a teacher or the IEP Team to discuss changes you feel are necessary.