Tag Archives: ARD Meetings


You are confused because it is confusing. We’ve had a lot of wrangling about this of late, including a new rule that went into effect at the start of 2015. Now we have a proposed addition to that rule that may make it more clear.

Here’s where we are right now.  The current rule says:

If the student's parent is unable to speak English and the parent's native language is Spanish, the school district must provide a written copy or audio recording of the student's IEP translated into Spanish. If the student's parent is unable to speak English and the parent's native language is a language other than Spanish, the school district must make a good faith effort to provide a written copy or audio recording of the student's IEP translated into the parent's native language.

This is pretty much the same language we have in the Education Code at 29.005(d).  Notice that both the statute and the rule call on districts to translate the IEP—not the ARD meeting. This has caused much confusion, as some folks fail to distinguish between the two. But they are different. The proposed rule clarifies this. It reads as follows:

(1) For purposes of this subsection, a written copy of the student's IEP translated into Spanish or the parent's native language means that all of the text in the student's IEP in English is accurately translated into the target language in written form. The IEP translated into the target language must be a comparable rendition of the IEP in English and not a partial translation or summary of the IEP in English.

(2) For purposes of this subsection, an audio recording of the student's IEP translated into Spanish or the parent's native language means that all of the content in the student's IEP in English is orally translated into the target language and recorded with an audio device. A school district is not prohibited from providing the parent with an audio recording of an ARD committee meeting at which the parent was assisted by an interpreter as long as the audio recording provided to the parent contains an oral translation into the target language of all of the content in the student's IEP in English.

(3) If a parent's native language is not a written language, the school district must take steps to ensure that the student's IEP is translated orally or by other means to the parent in his or her native language or other mode of communication.

We added emphasis to that with the bold font to make sure the message gets across.  It’s not the back-and-forth at the ARD meeting that must be translated.  It’s the IEP. All of it.



 S.B. 1259 goes into effect with the start of the 2015-16 school year.  It does three specific things.

First, it specifies that the “regular education teacher” member of the ARDC must “to the extent practicable, be a teacher who is responsible for implementing a portion of the child’s” IEP.  In other words, don’t just pull a random P.E. teacher out of the hall. Get someone there who will be working with the student in the classroom.

Second, it specifies that the written documentation of the ARDC meeting must include the date of the meeting, the name position and signature of each member participating in the meeting, and “an indication of whether the child’s parents, the adult student if applicable, and the administrator agreed or disagreed with the decisions of the committee.”  More on this in a moment.

Third, each member of the committee who disagrees with the IEP developed by the ARDC is entitled to include a statement of disagreement.

We have had a lot of wrangling of late about this “agree or disagree” business.  For many years our rules required “each member’s agreement or disagreement with the committee’s decisions.”  Federal law has no such requirement, but Texas imposed it via 19 T.A.C. 89.1050(e).

This rule was dropped as of January 1, 2015. Thus current rules have no requirement that each member of the group indicate agreement or disagreement.

But now we have a statute that requires a statement of whether or not the parent (or adult student) and the administrator are in agreement with the decisions made.

This makes sense.  The ARD Committee needs to know, at the conclusion of business, whether or not there is an agreement between the school and the parent/adult student.  If there is a disagreement, the parent/adult student has the right to seek legal recourse.  So it is important for the record to reflect clearly whether or not the parent (or adult student) agrees with decisions regarding identification, evaluation, placement and the provision of a FAPE.  The administrator plays a critical role in this because he/she is identified in the regulations as the “representative of the school district.”





Dear Dawg: At an ARD meeting can we just jump right into talking about the student’s placement?  That’s what the parent wants to do, so why not?

Jumping right into placement at the ARD meeting can be dangerous, even if the parent is impatient and wants the meeting to move along.  That’s the lesson of P.C. v. Milford Exempted Village Schools, 60 IDELR 129 (S.D. Ohio 2013).  This is one of the many cases in which parents allege that the school improperly “predetermined” the placement by entering into the IEP Team meeting with a closed mind. The hearing officer did not see if that way. Nor did the state review officer. The school district prevailed in the litigation until the case went to federal court. There, however, the parent won.

The court held that the district denied FAPE by engaging in predetermination, thus depriving the parents of meaningful participation in the process.  The court held that the district predetermined placement in its reading program and failed to involve the parents in the discussion of what reading methodology would be used.  The court acknowledged that methodology need not always be included in IEP Team discussions, but in this case, it should have been.  But the most interesting and illuminating part of the court’s decision involves the order in which things are to be decided.  The court held that the Team had decided placement “and then began to decide on what goals to pursue and which methodologies to try.”

The court noted that placement must be based on the IEP, and therefore, the content of the IEP should be decided before the placement discussion takes place.  This is an affirmation of the idea that IEP Team decisions should be made in the correct order: 1) evaluation review; 2) eligibility; 3) IEP; 4) placement.  This decision supports the notion that schools should have an agenda and follow the agenda so as to take things up in correct order. If you decide placement prior to deciding what the IEP will contain, how can you be sure that the placement is in the least restrictive environment?

So we think ARD Committees should come to closure on the content of the IEP—the present levels, the annual goals, and the specific services needed to achieve those goals, including related services. Then, the chair of the meeting can move the group on to the next issue: “Now that we have agreed on what the child needs, let’s talk about the least restrictive environment in which those services can be provided.”



It has to be frustrating for the Miami-Dade County School District to be found guilty of “predetermination” after holding an IEP Team meeting that lasted three full days, with the parents in attendance the whole time.  The parties met from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on three separate occasions in an effort to develop an IEP and placement for a student moving from middle school to high school.  On top of that, the district sent the parents 59 (59!) “prior written notice” forms following the IEP Team meetings, but was then accused of  not providing “prior written notice” as required by law.  The parents were represented by a slew of lawyers, one of whom sought to recover for his time at the rate of $600/hour.

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals held that the district “predetermined” the boy’s placement at Palmetto Senior High School. That school served 3600 students.  The parents wanted their son at MAST Academy, a much smaller charter school operated by the district. There was evaluation data to indicate that a large school would be difficult for the student to deal with, and might exacerbate his problems.  But the district insisted on Palmetto, and the court based its “predetermination” claim largely on a transcript of the IEP Team meetings in which the LEA representative was quoted as saying that MAST was “not an option that’s on the table as far as [the Board] is concerned. What our option is, is that he go to his home school.”

“This explicit statement,” said the Court, “that the Board was considering placement only at Palmetto Senior High School, and that bureaucratic policies precluded an alternative placement, weighs strongly in favor of finding predetermination.”

The Court’s opinion makes it clear that the voice of the “administrative representative” carries a lot of weight. The Court noted that “Other Board representatives [i.e., members of the IEP Team], to their credit, seemed ready to discuss whether the Board could accommodate [the student’s] needs by offering a smaller setting for [the student] within Palmetto Senior High School….But the Board representative running the meeting cut this conversation short, saying finally that the placement would be Palmetto Senior High School and that the parents would have to pursue mediation if they disagreed.”

It’s appropriate for the administrative representative to “speak for the school” after a full discussion of all options has been conducted.  It’s OK for the school to come to the conclusion that the meeting is going to end in non-consensus, and to explain that to the parents.  But the “not an option” remark in this case hurt the district’s case.

So be careful out there.  Even when you are tired and frustrated, be careful.

The case is R.L., S.L. v, Miami-Dade County School Board, (11th Cir. 2014) 2014 WL 3031231.

For today, chew on this Dawg Bone, special ed types: