Federal and state law obligate districts to provide parents with “prior notice” of two main types, general and specific. In SOC SELPA, general prior notice to parents is provided through the Parent Rights – Notice to Parent/Guardian/Surrogate (SOC 24). The purpose of the SOC 24 is to meet the legal mandate to fully inform parents of their rights under the IDEA and related state law. The federal law appears to have reduced the number of times when these rights must be given to parents. Parents must be given the rights annually, upon evaluation and when the parent files for due process hearing.
CFR 300.504 dictates the required contents of Parent Rights. There are 13 required content areas. The reason the rights are “prior” is that parents must be informed of their rights prior to some action or event. For example, the first one listed (1) is that parents need to know what prerequisites there are for an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE). The parent must be informed how to seek reimbursement for an IEE and under what conditions they are allowed to legally do so, what the district’s responsibility is and what happens if the conditions are not met.
Staff is always encouraged to review the SOC 24 to promote each parents understanding of these rights and to help answer parents’ questions regarding their rights as required. SOC SELPA also assists parents in understanding their rights by publishing the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) Parent Handbook. A copy of the Parent Handbook (revised 2007) is provided at the time of initial referral for assessment, when a student is enrolling from another district with an active IEP, or when the handbook is revised.
Specific Parent Rights and Prior Notice
There are other times when a specific prior notice to parents is necessary. Typically this is when a parent asks the IEP Team for something that the District members of the IEP team has not recommended. The circumstances when this type of notice is required are specified in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) that implements IDEA. CFR300.503 outlines the requirements of this type of notice. The SOC 24/Parent Rights document explains to parents these requirements. Thus, for example, when a parent asks that a service be added to their child’s IEP FAPE offer and the IEPT (District) is refusing the request; the District must give a prior notice in written form. This is often referred to as a “503 letter or response”, the Federal Code of Regulation section.
The federal IDEA regulations changed in January 2009 and impacted parent notice requirements (SOC 24). The most substantial change regards parental revocation of consent to continuing IEP services for their child. This means that a parent can indicate in writing at any time that they no longer want any IEP services (special education) for their child. The following are then triggered:
- The District must respond in writing (“503 notice”) to the revocation in a particular manner to acknowledge and fully inform the parent of the implications (i.e. no protections under IDEA and related state special education law);
- The District then cannot provide any IEP services;
- The District cannot file for mediation or hearing regarding the parental Revocation;
- The district will not be considered in violation of the IDEA for not providing IEP services under these circumstances;
- The District is not required to convene an IEP meeting or develop an IEP for the child in the future;
- The District is not required to amend the child’s educational records to delete IEP or any other special education information.
- The child is then considered in general education only.