If you disagree with the new IEP

You have many options for what you can do next.

Remember that the IDEA law gives you certain rights. These rights include options for disagreeing with a decision about your child's services or education.

Know that if you disagree with the new IEP, your child will still get the services from the current IEP until you resolve the problem. This is called your right to "Stay Put".

Click the button below to learn more:

Under law, parents have a right to "Stay put".

This is your right to keep your child in their current placement and services until you and the school agree on a new placement or services.

You should use your "stay put" right when:

  • You disagree with a district's new proposed IEP, or

  • Your child had an IEP but the district now says the child is no longer eligible for services.

When you use your "stay put" right, your child will keep getting the services from the last IEP you signed. The district must provide those services.

"Stay put" is a good way to make sure your child continues to get consistent services while you are disputing the district's new proposed IEP.

Tip: If you use your stay-put right, you should reject the IEP (in full or in part), and write a note to the district. The note should say that you are asserting your right to stay put and want your child's services and/or placement to stay the same.

Sources: IDEA, MA Regulations

Here's what you can do:

  • Talk to your IEP Team and explain why you disagree with the new IEP. Be persistent! If there is a service that you think should be included, or one that you think should happen more often, then say so! Usually, you can work with the Team and change the parts you don't agree with.

  • If not, you can reject the whole IEP, or parts of it. You can also ask for another meeting to talk about the parts you reject.

  • If you reject parts of the IEP, your child will get the services you did not reject, as well as the last agreed upon version of the parts you're now rejecting.

  • Add an addendum to the IEP. This is a separate paper that describes the changes you want to make.

  • Talk to the Director of Special Education in your school district.

  • Consider getting a special education advocate

Click on the buttons below to learn more:

A parent addendum is an extra page that you can write and give to the school.

You would do this if you have concerns about the IEP and want an official record of them. You can ask the school to staple this letter to the IEP.

Once you get the school's meeting notes, make sure they accurately reflect what people said and what the team decided. Write a list of things that were left out or described differently than how you remember.

Here's what you can do:

  • Think about the parts of the IEP you disagree with and why you disagree.

    • For example, if the IEP doesn't include goals to measure all the concerns you raised, or if you think your child should see a certain specialist more often than the IEP says

  • Write a short letter (1 page or less) to the district explaining what you disagree with and why.

  • Include the list you made from the meeting notes.

  • Be concise. The shorter the better!

  • Include the following: "I am submitting this addendum to be attached to the IEP dated [insert date]." This is to make sure the district attaches this page to the IEP. We can't guarantee that they'll staple it, but it's worth asking.

  • Sign the addendumYou don't need to sign the IEP itself if you have signed this because it will be stapled to the IEP.

Remember: the district can't start the IEP services without your consent.


Click the link at the bottom of the page to see a sample addendum. It will open in a new tab or at the bottom of your screen. Remember, this is just an example - you will need to create your own letter specific to your child.

Sources: Children's Law Center of MA, MA DOE

Who are special education advocates?

  • Advocates are experienced professionals who help families work with their schools.

  • There is no official certification for advocates in Massachusetts, but a good one will have done some training with an organization like the Federation for Children with Special Needs. (This link will open in a new tab or at the bottom of your screen.)

  • Some advocates are parents who have gone through the special ed system, or former special education teachers. Usually they are not lawyers, but they are trained to know when to refer you to a lawyer.

A good advocate:

  • Is well-trained and knows the law

  • Understands disabilities

  • Understands your school system

  • Takes time to know your child

  • Empowers you

  • Acts professional

Source: FCSN

Here's what you can do:

  1. Contact the Federation for Children with Special Needs, and ask to speak to an Information Specialist. The Federation provides training for advocates in your local area.Their number is1-800-331-0688 (toll-free) or 617-236-7210

  2. Contact your district's Special Education Parent Advisory Council for advice about local advocates. You can also click the button below to download a list of advocates from the Special Needs Advocacy Network (SPAN).

Before you hire an advocate:
  • Make sure they are experienced, know about your child's school district and disability, and that they take the time to get to know your family

  • Ask about their fees. Advocates in Massachusetts usually charge about $60-90 per hour

  • Ask for references from other families they have worked with

  • Ask for a written agreement outlining their responsibilities and fees

Talk to people who understand and get advice, training and support!

  • Contact Family Ties of Mass and ask for advice: 1-800-905-TIES (8437)

  • They can also put you in touch with other parents, help you find advocates and tell you about trainings to learn more about the process.

See the section above on Connecting with Support Organizations and Other Parents.

If you are really stuck, see the section below on Solving a Problem with the School.

Sources: Federation for Children with Special Needs, MA DOE, Family TIES of MA