Parents of children with special needs routinely tell me that they don’t understand their child’s IEP Team. But what if this were LITERALLY true? For parents of children with disabilities who are either deaf or who don’t speak English as a first language, these complex, and often contentious, IEP Meetings must seem even more overwhelming.
Thankfully, the IDEA contemplates this:
Use of interpreters or other action, as appropriate. The public agency must take whatever action is necessary to ensure that the parent understands the proceedings of the IEP Team meeting, including arranging for an interpreter for parents with deafness or whose native language is other than English. 34 CFR 300.322
The “public agency” typically means your local school district, and it also means the State Educational Agency. As to “whatever action is necessary”…well, that’s where the disputes come in. But keep in mind that parental participation in the development of the IEP, under which section this provision falls, tends to be one of the most fundamental aspects of the IDEA that Hearing Officers and Courts consider.
If you are the parent of a child who either has or needs an IEP, and you require an interpreter, ask for one, preferably in writing.