Federal Law - IDEA PART B

MA Regulations 603CMR 28.00 - all sections

Federal Law - Definitions Under IDEA

Massachusetts  Advisories


The information on these pages emphasizes key points, re-iterates answers to frequently asked questions and explains some of the processes used in Arlington from a parent’s point of view.  You must read the full text of the laws themselves to be fully informed.   

The IEP (Individualized Education Plan)


Read the actual Massachusetts regulations pertaining to development of the IEP.


The Key points of the IEP:



The DESE provides a copy of the guide given to your school administrators explaining the intent of use for each area of the IEP as well as directions on how to use the forms. Reading this guide will make you aware of what should be in your child’s IEP and where:

“The IEP Process Guide”


“Directions for IEP Forms”


Here are the actual regulations in IDEA regarding IEP Development, Review and Revision.


Be sure to review the related services that may be required for your child before the meeting, bring a copy of them to your meeting in case there is a dispute as to what should be included.


There is an important Technical Advisories specifically addressing how to deal with bullying that must be considered in all cases.


A copy of the drafted IEP must be provided immediately after a team meeting (3-5 days) or within 10 days if you received a copy of the meeting summary notes.


Upon drafting the IEP the school placement is discussed.  Read the regulations here with regard to placement.


You will receive 2(two) copies of the proposed IEP.  Keep the envelope it arrives in, it is postmarked and shows when you received the copies. You have 30(thirty) days to respond.  Read it carefully and confirm that all agreed to services and/or changes have been made; if not, contact your team leader and determine whether you can iron out the details without having to re-convene.  If your team leader agrees await a new copy for signature, if not, you will need to reject the IEP in full or in part and mark the box requesting a meeting.  It is preferable to partially accept an IEP making note only of areas that are in dispute.  If you do not, the services from the last agreed upon IEP will remain in place until the issues are resolved.  If this is your first meeting to determine eligibility and services, no services will begin until you accept at least those parts of the IEP that are agreeable.     


In all cases you MUST return the IEP in 30 days accepting, rejecting, or partially rejecting the IEP and making note of what parts are in dispute.  You need only return the signature page (pages if you are also discussing placement) of the IEP and retain the copies for your records.


If you reject all or any part of the IEP, the school district is required to inform the Bureau of Special Education Appeals (BSEA).  The Bureau will then forward you paperwork inquiring whether you wish to pursue their options of mediation or due process hearing to try to resolve the matter.  No action will be taken unless and until you or the school district contact them.  In all cases you can continue to work with the district to resolve the conflict.  You do not need to wait for the school district to inform BSEA of a dispute.  You can request the forms for dispute resolution on your own by going directly to BSEA.


The team meets no less than annually to review your child’s case. However, while your child’s IEP is in place you have the right to call a team meeting at any time if things do not seem to be working for your child, contact your team leader if you feel this is necessary.  NOTE:  There is no regulation, at this time, stipulating the amount of time the district has to set such a meeting, simply that it must be reasonable.


IEP Progress reports must be forwarded as often as district report cards are sent.  Be sure to review them carefully.  You have the right to request any part or all of your child’s records.  Those records should be made available within ten school days under 603 CMR 23.07(2).  


Every 3 years your child is re-evaluated in all areas for services unless both you and the district agree it is not necessary.  Review the requirements under IDEA here.

If the district advises you they believe your child no longer requires any or all special education services and you disagree you have the right to keep those services in place unless the disagreement is resolved. You may tell the school you wish to “stay put” any or all services under 603 CMR 28.08(7).  Those services will stay in place as written until a mutual agreement is reached between parents and district, or the dispute is resolved by a hearing officer.  There are certain circumstances of discipline/behavior that can affect a “stay-put”, due to their complexity legal counsel in some form is suggested if this applies to your child’s case.


FAQs, Reminders, TIPS and miscellaneous:


  1. Consider bringing a numbered list of your concerns and things that need to be addressed to attach to “Parental Concerns” area of the the IEP.  Each year update your concerns determining whether all or any of those concerns have been resolved.  It will be helpful to gauge progress or lack thereof when determining the focus of services for the coming year.
  2. Regarding email:  Always remember, while email is a very convenient method of communication it has downsides.  Any email sent to your child’s team should be held in confidence, however, accidents can and do happen.  The administration recommends not including your child’s name if at all possible in emails, if you must use an identifier use initials only.  Always use the “New York Times” rule:  Do not put anything in an email you would not want printed in the  New York Times for all to see.
  3. Additionally, PQA evaluates special education districts for compliance by reviewing random hard files. Therefore, the only correspondence PQA considers is that which is physically in the district’s file, emails are not included in that file.  While it can be submitted as valid evidence for complaints it will not be reviewed during the districts 6 year review period.  In order to ensure that PQA is aware of all instances of disagreement between the district and parents you may consider printing a copy of emails with issues in dispute and forward via regular mail for your child’s file.
  4. If your child's service grid has SPECIAL EDUCATION as the provider, this could be done by a teaching assistant or any other person on the special education staff.  There is no obligation to provide any certified or highly qualified staff to provide services unless it's somewhere else in the IEP.   
  5. You have the right to request a facilitator for the IEP meeting at no cost to the parties that can be used when the parties to an IEP meeting agree that the presence of a neutral third party would assist them in communicating and in the successful drafting of an IEP for a student.  All federal and state laws related to the development of the IEP continue to apply.  Though most IEP team meetings flow smoothly, sometimes conflicts arise, impasse occurs, new and or complex issues emerge, or other problems develop, and outside assistance is useful to maintain focus on the development of an IEP for the student.To request an IEP Team Meeting facilitator from the BSEA, call the Coordinator of Mediation, at 781-338-6443.
  6. SEPAC has been unable to ascertain any tracking method used by the administration to confirm that related services have been provided as prescribed on your child’s grid.  If you wish to receive such confirmation because you have a child who is non-verbal, or for any other reason, you may want to request a method of tracking on your IEP.
  7. The district has to provide "prior written notice" of why they are rejecting any option proposed by the parent. It can be done on an N1 form (Question 2), a School District Refusal To Act form, or as a stand-alone letter.