The end of summer and beginning of a new school year can be a stressful time for parents with a child who has an IEP or 504 Plan. There are things parents can do to help get the new school year off to a great start.

Establish a Good Relationship with Your Child’s Teacher.

Your child’s teacher or teachers have a lot of responsibilities leading up to the new school year. Don’t assume that they have the time to review your child’s IEP or 504 Plan. That doesn’t mean that you approach your child’s new teacher or teachers in a hostile manner and put them on the defensive. Many teachers appreciate a parent who provides a summary of strengths and struggles of an incoming child with a disability. Provide your child’s teacher with a copy of their IEP or 504 Plan. I always recommend adding information regarding strategies that have worked for other teachers. Be sure to close out the letter thanking them for their time and letting them know that you are there to support your student and the teacher.

Review Your Child’s Most Recent IEP.

It is important to review your child’s IEP to make sure you understand your child’s current goals and what the school agreed to provide.  If you have questions regarding the clarity of any provisions of the IEP, write to your child’s case manager or the appropriate service provide and ask for clarification. If informal attempts to clarify provisions of your child’s IEP are unsuccessful, call an IEP meeting.

Take Time to Organize Your Paperwork.

I recommend parents start a new folder or binder every year. The folder or binder should be used to keep track of relevant IEPs, communication, progress reports, assessments, and meeting notes. I also recommend parents keep copies of work samples that show your child’s strengths and weaknesses. These documents will be helpful during future IEP meetings and in the event disagreements lead to due process.

Determine if Any New Issues Have Arisen.

The new school year is a good time to think about whether new academic, social, organization, or behavior concerns have arisen. Inform the IEP team in writing regarding any new concerns. Don’t wait for your child to struggle, or worse fail.

If you believe your child’s IEP does not provide FAPE  or your child’s 504 Plan is no longer sufficient, consult with an attorney on how to get things on the right track.


(Note: This Blog/Web Site is made available for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. The website has been designed to be a resource for information on matters that might be of interest to current or potential clients but does not establish that relationship. For further information visit my Disclaimer page-


In most instances where a child is already receiving special education services, the simple answer is no. The Individuals with Disabilities Act (“IDEA”) provides procedural protections to parents and local educational agencies (your school district). One of those procedural protections is the allowance of an impartial due process hearing with respect to the provision of a free and appropriate public education to a student (“FAPE”). Parents and the local educational agency may file for due process to resolve disputes related to the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of a student.

School districts have a mandatory responsibility to file for due process when a disagreement arises with parents of a student receiving special education services. The school district is required to continue to provide the services set out in the student’s IEP while they resolve the remaining disputes. Failure to request due process for a protracted period of time is a serious procedural violation of state law. Porter v. Manhattan Beach Unified School Dist. (C.D.Cal., Dec. 21 2004 (Case No. CV 00-8402 GAF)) 105 LRP 40577.

The school’s responsibility to file for due process also extends to the obligation to have an IEP in place at the beginning of the year. (34 C.F.R. 300.323(a), see also M.M. v. School Dist. Of Greenville County (4th Cir., 2002) 37 IDELR 183) School districts “cannot excuse their failure to satisfy the IDEA’s procedural requirements by blaming the parents.


Something to consider…. The party who files the administrative complaint has the burden of persuasion by a preponderance of the evidence. (Schaffer v. Weast (2005) 546 U.S. 49) It isn’t always advantageous to file due process when the school district has the obligation to file. Please also understand that a procedural violation alone doesn’t entitle a parent to seek relief from the school district. If you would like more information regarding this issue, contact me at (925) 551-1041 to discuss the facts of your particular case.


School is out and site staff is off for the summer. It may seem as though the special education process is on hold. While it’s true that some timelines are tolled during school breaks in excess of 5 days, including summer, that doesn’t mean everything is on hold. If you are concerned that the IEP last offered to your child is incomplete, or if your child’s needs have changed significantly over the summer, you are entitled to request an IEP team meeting. Additionally, if you believe your child has been denied FAPE then you may start or continue due process. Summer may be a good time to review your child’s IEP and work to resolve any major issues before school begins.


In certain circumstances, summer vacation is not a legitimate excuse to delay having an IEP meeting. The IDEA requires that an appropriate IEP be in place by the beginning of the school year. (34 CFR 300.323) Therefore, if the IEP last developed before the end of the school year was not complete, or did not include necessary supports for the student to receive a free and appropriate public education at the start of the coming school year, it may be necessary to reconvene and IEP meeting over the summer to finalize the IEP.

Your local school district may refer to CA ED Code Section 56343.5 which states,

A meeting of an individualized education program team requested by a parent to review an individualized education program pursuant to subdivision (c) of Section 56343 shall be held within 30 days, not counting days between the pupil’s regular school sessions, terms, or days of school vacation in excess of five schooldays, from the date of receipt of the parent’s written request.

It may seem that the school has a valid argument. However, federal law trumps state law. If a child’s IEP needs to be modified during the summer to ensure that an appropriate IEP is in place at the beginning of the school year, a meeting must be held.

School districts face difficulties during the summer months. Many school staff contracts do not require them to attend IEP meetings over the summer. That leaves district administrative personnel to resolve the issues without the assistance of the staff members who are regularly a part of the student’s IEP team. District staff is often hesitant to make substantial changes without the other team members.

If your child’s IEP needs to be updated and can’t wait for school to begin, don’t let the above-mentioned issues deter you from calling an IEP meeting. Put all your requests in writing to the superintendent of special education for your district. If the school refuses to hold an IEP meeting and make necessary changes to your child’s IEP, you may be able to go back to the school and request compensatory services lost from the beginning of the school year until the time when an IEP meeting is held. If the issue is critical enough, contact an attorney to discuss your concerns and determine if your request is reasonable.


While your site school staff may have the summer off, special education administrative staff members are still working. This allows due process matters to be filed, negotiated, and heard during summer breaks. If you believe your child has been denied a free and appropriate public education you can file a complaint with the Office of Administrative Hearings. The timeline for due process hearings is not tolled over the summer. Due process proceedings are typically completed within 75 days of filing.  That means it is possible to file a due process complaint at the beginning of summer and have it heard before school resumes.

While it is possible to file for due process and have your case heard over the summer, there can be advantages and disadvantages to doing this. An attorney who is knowledgeable regarding special education law can help weigh these considerations.


Summer break be a reason a student starts a new school year without an IEP, or with an inappropriate IEP. District administrative staff work over the summer and provide an opportunity to work through major issues. If you are receiving push-back from the district it may be worthwhile to have an attorney review your file and write a letter on your behalf.



(Note: This Blog/Web Site is made available for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. The website has been designed to be a resource for information on matters that might be of interest to current or potential clients but does not establish that relationship. For further information visit my Disclaimer page-