After School Hours IEP Meeting Not Required for Illinois School District
In B.H. v. Joliet School District No. 86, a federal court recently rejected a parent’s claim that the school district discriminated against her child, a special education student, by refusing to hold an Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting after school hours.
The Court considered whether Joliet School District violated the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 by refusing to hold an after-hours IEP meeting. The regulations implementing IDEA require school districts to hold IEP meetings at a “mutually agreed on time.” Considering this requirement, the Court found that the concept of mutual agreement does not mandate that a school district accept a parent’s unilateral insistence that a meeting be held at one particular time. The Court notes that this is especially true when the time sought is after school hours.
The Court also found that Joliet School District did not violate Section 504 by refusing to hold the meeting after school hours. The Court noted that the District offered to hold the meeting several different times and dates and also attempted to accommodate the parent’s private evaluator’s availability limitations by providing teleconferencing equipment. The Court noted that 17 school personnel were invited to the meeting and at least two invited employees had conflicts impeding their attendance at an after school meeting. Considering these circumstances, the Court found that the District’s refusal to meet in the evening was not done in bad faith.
The Joliet decision confirms that although school districts should work with parents when scheduling IEP meetings, school districts are not required to schedule IEP meetings at any time demanded by parents.