SpedEx: An Option for Parents and Schools to Resolve Their Own IEP Dispute

By David Scanlon, Ph.D., SpedEx Administrator

When parents and schools disagree on a child’s IEP another perspective can sometimes help. Massachusetts schools and parents are fortunate to have SpedEx. SpedEx is a free, voluntary, and student-centered dispute resolution option when there is a rejected IEP. SpedEx may be used when the IEP dispute concerns free and appropriate public education (FAPE) or the least restrictive environment (LRE).

In the SpedEx process an experienced and unbiased professional considers the student’s records, proposed program, and input from parents and schools, in addition to observing the child in her/his current placement. The Consultant then issues a recommendations report. The parties (parents and school) use the SpedEx report to resolve their dispute themselves. They are not required to adopt the recommendations in the report and the SpedEx Consultant does not participate in Team planning for a new IEP. Instead, the SpedEx process empowers the parties with a new and unbiased perspective on what will constitute FAPE and LRE for the student. The parties are free to make their own decisions about a new IEP. While certainly a signed IEP is one desired outcome of the process, SpedEx’s mission includes helping the parties to build and maintain positive working relationships.

The SpedEx process is fast. Cases can begin almost as soon as the day schools and parents agree to use the service. The Consultant then typically takes 30 school days to gather all information and issue the recommendations report. The parties have the option of meeting with the Consultant to review the recommendations report together. Then, it is up to the parent and school to meet and see if they can now agree on an IEP for the child. When a new IEP is signed following a SpedEx consultation the parties have the option of inviting the Consultant back to observe the child in her/his new placement and offer a brief report on whether or not the new FAPE and LRE are being provided.

Parents and schools never give up their due process rights by engaging in the SpedEx process. They are not bound by the Consultant’s recommendations and they are free to pursue mediation, a hearing, or any other dispute resolution option available to them. The SpedEx Recommendations report must become part of the student’s permanent school file.

You are eligible to use SpedEx if there is a rejected IEP and the dispute concerns FAPE or LRE. It is also possible to use SpedEx if mediation or a hearing has already been scheduled.

Does SpedEx Help?
SpedEx has been used by parents and schools in 24 of Massachusetts school districts and collaboratives. Both parents and schools have initiated requests to use SpedEx. Of 27 completed cases, 24 have resulted in signed IEPs.

For more information on SpedEx please visit the website www.spedexresolution.com. SpedEx is a free service supported by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.