012-10 IEP Team Composition for Students Placed in Private Schools
The Virginia Regulations require that the IEP team include not less than one special education teacher of the child. If a child attends a private day school or residential facility, placed by the school division, is the school division obligated to ensure the child’s teacher(s) from the private special education school attends the IEP meeting?
The Virginia Regulations, at 8 VAC 20-81-150 A 3 related to private school placements by a local school division or Comprehensive Services Act team, require:
When a child is presently receiving the services of a private school or facility…., the local school division shall ensure that a representative of the private school or facility attends the IEP meeting. If the representative cannot attend, the local school division shall use other methods to ensure participation by the private school or facility, including individual or conference telephone calls.
[corresponding federal regulation at 34 CFR §300.325(a)(2)]
This is the extent of the school division’s obligation; i.e., to include someone from the private school or facility at the IEP meeting. The school division is not required to compel anyone from the private school or facility to attend the IEP meeting, but simply, to invite a representative and ensure alternative means of participation, including individual or conference phone calls, are available.
Virginia Regulations direct the IEP team to include:
Not less than one special education teacher of the child or, if appropriate, not less than one special education provider of the child. For a child whose only disability is speech-language impairment, the special education provider shall be the speech-language pathologist.
[8 VAC 20-81-110 C.1.b and c; 34 CFR §300.321 (a)(2) and (3)]
Given the presenting question, the language "teacher of the child" may appear confusing; i.e., some may think that the mandated teacher must be one of the child’s current teachers in the private school. Meeting the mandates for IEP team composition, however, requires the school division to ensure their own school personnel attend the meeting. These regulations do not contemplate requiring a school division to ensure that persons other than those individuals employed by the school division serve in this role. Requirements for inviting persons from the private school are confined to "…a representative of the private school or facility…", as cited above.
(see also U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs’ Commentary on the federal regulations related to this issue, Federal Register, 2006, pp. 46669-46670).