Department of Education staff in the Program Quality Assurance Services office and the Special Education Planning and Policy Development office have received numerous questions related to implementation standards regarding providing an IEP "immediately following" its development in a Team meeting. Although verbal guidance has been provided regarding the "immediate" standard, the Department is issuing this best practice guidance to school districts and parents to address these questions.
Background: Former state special education regulations in effect prior to 2000 provided ten school working days from development of the IEP to delivery of the IEP to the parent. In the 1998 monitoring of Massachusetts by the USDOE Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), OSEP found that the IEP development and delivery process in Massachusetts was resulting in implementation delays and misunderstandings regarding the agreements of the IEP meeting and the subsequently-delivered IEP. Massachusetts addressed this finding through training, technical assistance, corrective actions in districts, and a change to the regulation on the period of time between the development and delivery of the IEP, incorporating the word "immediately" into the regulation at 603 CMR 28.05(7) in amendments adopted in 2000.
Current Practice: Since 2000, an IEP provided to a parent within 3–5 days of the Team meeting fulfills the requirement for "immediate" delivery of the IEP to the parent, and the parent has an additional 30 days to respond to the proposed IEP.
Guidance: Currently, most districts have the technology or resources that make it possible to present at least the key service components of an IEP to the parents as they leave the IEP development Team meeting. This is referred to as a "summary." At a minimum, this summary of the decisions and agreements reached during the Team meeting must include:
By providing parents with this summary at the conclusion of the Team meeting, in the Department's opinion the district has complied with the requirement to provide the parent with the key decisions and agreements immediately. The district may then take no more than two calendar weeks (this reflects the former ten school working days standard) to prepare the complete IEP for the parent's signature and for the student's records (both home and school).
The role of the parent: The parent is under no obligation to wait to receive the complete IEP to begin considering whether to consent to the proposed IEP services and goals. We urge parents to begin their consideration while developing the IEP in the Team meeting, and to respond to the district's request for consent as soon as they are ready to do so. The district's delivery of a summary at the IEP meeting, and any additional time needed to deliver the complete IEP, does not delay the parent's right and opportunity to respond promptly to the proposed IEP.
The district's use of a summary report prior to providing the complete IEP must be acceptable to the parent. There may be circumstances when the parent is ready to accept the IEP immediately in order to begin services for the student. In this case, parents may ask the district for the completed IEP in order to begin implementation of IEP services as soon as possible. Districts must respond to such requests with a complete IEP within 3-5 days of the Team meeting at which it was developed. However, since we encourage districts and parents to schedule IEP development meetings in advance of the time period of the proposed IEP service delivery, we believe that in most cases the immediate provision of a summary with a complete IEP provided shortly thereafter will be acceptable to the parent.
If the above approach is used, the Department will consider that the district has met the requirement under 603 CMR 28.05(7) to provide the parent with the IEP immediately following its development.
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906
Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370
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