What is an IEP “Amendment?”

Published on March 17, 2010 by Jennifer Laviano

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Every so often, Congress “reauthorizes” the IDEA.  The most recent was the 2004 Reauthorization, also known as IDEA04, and sometimes IDEIA (the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act).  When the 2004 IDEA came out, there were a number of changes with which I, and many parents’ attorneys and advocates, disagreed.  However, there was one change which has proven rather useful, and that is an IEP “Amendment.”

What is an “Amendment” to an IEP?

In a nutshell, an Amendment is a written change to the IEP which is arrived at by agreement between the parents and the school district without the necessity of convening another IEP Team Meeting.  20 USC 1414 (d)(3)(D) and (F); 34 CFR 300.324 (a)(4) and (6).

At first I thought this was a recipe for disaster, and that school districts would be abusing this procedure all of the time, using it as a “quick fix” for much larger problems with the IEP.

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So far, at least in Connecticut, that’s not what I’m seeing.  In fact, I’ve been able to use it as a useful tool to sidestep one of the most common stall tactics of some school district attorneys, which is to haul everyone back into IEP meetings all of the time over every little thing, which drives up the costs AND the acrimony.  As a special education lawyer who represents parents in Connecticut, I actually rather like the Amendment process.

However, most parents are not represented by counsel, and I worry about how the Amendment is being used in most cases.

Therefore, here are some important things to remember about Amendments, and what is, and is not, permitted by this relatively new creature of law:

1.  The Amendment MUST be in writing.  Simply having a verbal agreement to change the IEP will not suffice.

2.  The Amendment MUST be agreed upon by both parties, and the use of it in lieu of an IEP Team Meeting must be agreed upon by both parties.  This means if your school district wants to just change the IEP through Amendment, and you want to discuss it an an IEP Team meeting, you have the right to insist upon the meeting.

3.  An Amendment does NOT eliminate the school district’s obligation to convene the IEP Team at least once a year.  It’s clear from the language of the statute that this mechanism was intended to be available only to change IEPs created annually.

4.  Parents SHALL be given a copy of the new IEP, complete with Amendment, upon request.  It can be hard enough to track your child’s progress towards goals without a mid-year change; if you agree upon an Amendment, I recommend you ask for a new copy of the full IEP.

5.  The IEP Team MUST be notified of the changes to the IEP.  Just because the Parents and the school agreed to change the IEP without convening the meeting does not mean that this part of the IEP is any less important to be implemented than any other.  The Team can’t do that if they’re unaware of it.

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Generally, there are some very good reasons to Amend IEPs, but parents should be absolutely certain that they both understand the proposed change, and are comfortable making it without the benefit of discussing it with the IEP Team, before they sign it.

8 Responses to What is an IEP “Amendment?”

  1. Dan Callahan
    March 17th, 2010 | 9:42 pm

    As a Special Ed teacher, here’s how I handle the amendment process:
    1) Determine change that needs to be made
    2) Call up parent, explain to them the change I would like to make
    3) Ask if they have any questions
    4) Ask if it’s OK to make the change
    5) MOST IMPORTANT: Ask the parent if they would like to come in for a meeting to discuss the change further, or if they’re fine with me making the change and then sending the paperwork home to them afterwards.

    I want the parents to be well aware of their right to have a meeting to discuss any changes to the IEP, but I’m thankful as the person who has to organize the paperwork and meetings for the ability to make simple changes to the IEP without convening a complete team meeting. If I do a good job of explaining what change I would like to make and can adequately answer any questions, that’s going to be enough for almost all situations where I would want to change an IEP in mid-stream.

    This completely saved me last month, because we made ESY determinations. Once we got the list of programs available, I had less than a month to add ESY to 11 IEPs. If I had to schedule meetings for each of those, especially with the wacky weather we had, I think I would have spontaneously combusted.

  2. Kathy
    December 10th, 2011 | 7:51 pm

    This is a word of caution. I would highly suggest that parents wait 2-3 days to get a second opinion before agreeing to do anything to change the IEP. By dong such, they can call CPAC to get advice, explore further questions, etc,. The IEP amendment is a great IDEA but I have know some parents who had the wool pulled over their eyes. I tell parents to not give an answer but tell the school district you will give then a response in a few days.

  3. Jennifer Laviano
    December 11th, 2011 | 7:07 pm

    EXCELLENT suggestion, Kathy!

  4. Fred Harms
    March 15th, 2012 | 2:17 pm

    I have a question. Is adding an accommodation for testing considered an amendment? I ask because our on-line form notice letter doesn’t seem to provide for testing accommodation changes and I am not sure how to do it now.

  5. Jennifer Laviano
    March 15th, 2012 | 8:34 pm

    That’s a good question. I would think it would be permissible to Amend an IEP to include additional accommodations, but I am not aware of any cases specific to this. My suggestion would be to call your State Department of Education and find out if they’ve taken a formal position on this. Good luck, and thanks for reading! Best, Jen

  6. Paul Pattavina
    April 23rd, 2013 | 8:08 pm

    I have a question about a specific component of IEP amendments. On the 1st page of the IEP, that must be included as part of the amendment, what name(s), if any, have to be included on the bottom half of the page?

  7. Jennifer Laviano
    April 24th, 2013 | 5:35 pm

    IEP Amendment forms vary from state to state, so it depends on the form that your state uses. The State Department of Education in your state should be able to answer this based on your forms. Hope this helps!

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