Law Office of Michelle Ball IEP,Special Education Yearly IEPs Are Important For Student Success (And Legally Required)

Yearly IEPs Are Important For Student Success (And Legally Required)


special education student IEP

Last Updated on September 23, 2021 by Michelle Ball

By Michelle Ball, Sacramento California Expulsion, Special Education, sports/CIF, College, Education and School Attorney/Lawyer for Students since 1995

Are you a parent who follows your child’s school on what to do for the student’s IEP (Individualized Education Program) blindly? Do you go to IEP meetings, smile and go home happy afterward as everyone was so nice? That’s great. But what if not all is well and you just don’t know it? What if one of the most basic requirements, that student IEP meetings be held at least yearly, is not met?

IEP team success
IEP meetings are not just friendly get togethers – they are critically important for special education student success

IEPs Are Necessary For Special Education Success

Well crafted student IEP plans have a purpose. They are held to ensure student advancement year to year is appropriate, to review progress on goals, to update goals to be aligned with new grade level standards, to provide supports and interventions, and to change things as needed.

IEP plans outline all the goals the student needs to reach in the next time period, the services they will get, the accommodations staff will implement, and many other important matters. They are critical for a special education student’s success in school.

How Often Must IEPs Be Held?

Per federal law, IEP meetings must be held at least annually. This means that at least one time a year, a student IEP meeting with a general education and special education teacher (if applicable), administrator, psychologist, and/or other relevant personnel must be scheduled.

In most school districts this happens. In some it does not.

What Does a Parent Do If No Annual IEP Meeting Occurs?

Parents need to contact their school if the yearly student IEP meeting does not get scheduled properly. The legal obligation to hold the meeting annually must be asserted, and a demand for an IEP meeting made.

What If a Parent Does Not Like the Dates Proposed for the IEP?

A parent is a critical member of the IEP team and school districts are supposed to work collaboratively to determine an IEP date. However, if a school district proposes date after date, and the parent just won’t commit, it is possible an IEP meeting may proceed without the parent.

IEP meetings lead to student success
Student success occurs after effective annual IEP meetings are held as they map out goals, services and supports

This should rarely occur, but if it does, a school district could try to justify the IEP meeting held without a parent by showing a lot of meeting requests, offers to change, lack of parent cooperation in scheduling, etc. and that the student’s education would have been negatively impacted were a meeting not held.

If a parent notices an IEP meeting has not been held within a year, parents can try to work with the school to get the IEP held as promptly as possible. Arrangements for the annual IEP meeting to not be missed again should also be developed.

No Free and Appropriate Education Without Annual IEP?

Lack of IEPs annually could easily be a breach of a student’s legal rights as this could impact progress for the student. A school district may find itself in hot water for not convening a student IEP meeting timely.

However, if a school misses a timeline by a few days, and it is a harmless procedural error for the student, a school may try to wiggle out of this breach if challenged.


Special education lawyer Michelle Ball assists parents and students across California with IEP, special education, 504, placement, service, evaluation and other special education matters. With her office in Sacramento, Michelle can assist statewide from Lincoln to Roseville to Berkeley, Los Angeles, Riverside, and beyond.