Can You Contest an IEP Decision? Yes.

Being a parent is a fulfilling yet demanding role, particularly when navigating the educational terrain for your child with special needs. In California, the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is an integral part of this journey. However, disagreements over the IEP can occur. Thankfully, you have the right to disagree and contest the offer in the IEP.

Understanding Your Rights

As a parent, you have the right to ensure your child’s educational needs are met adequately. If you believe the proposed IEP does not serve your child’s needs, you have the right to challenge it. California law provides avenues to contest such decisions, including informal dispute resolution, mediation and due process hearings. Being informed about these rights and the available processes is important for advocating effectively for your child’s education. It is also advisable to seek legal counsel to understand fully and exercise these rights in the best interest of your child.

Alternate Dispute Resolution

You may request an Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) meeting to try to resolve your dispute informally.  Sometimes referred to as Informal Dispute Resolution (IDR), these meetings allow you to meet with an administrator in the special education department to openly discuss your concerns and try to work collaboratively to achieve a satisfactory solution. Put your request in writing stating your objections and concerns, your requested changes, and your request for an ADR/IDR meeting.  Address the letter to the Director of Special Education for your school district, and copy your school principal.


Mediation is a collaborative process where you, a representative from the school, and a neutral mediator from the Special Education Division of the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) come together to discuss your concerns regarding the IEP. This mediator does not make decisions but helps facilitate the discussion to find common ground. It is a less formal and more collaborative way to address and resolve disputes, aiming for a solution that benefits your child’s educational experience. Mediation can lead to amicable resolutions, making it a favorable option before moving to more formal processes like a due process hearing.

Due Process Hearing

A due process complaint initiates a formal proceeding where you and the school district ultimately go to a hearing to present your cases regarding the IEP to an impartial OAH judge. Both parties provide evidence and bring witnesses to support their positions. The judge reviews the information presented, makes a decision based on the facts and the law, and issues a binding ruling. This process ensures a thorough examination of the dispute, but it is significantly more time-consuming and adversarial than mediation. This is a legal process with strict rules and procedures, and requires knowledge of the law and rules of evidence, so having legal representation during a due process hearing is highly advisable to navigate the legal complexities and advocate effectively for your child’s educational rights.

How Moore Law For Children Can Help

Contesting an IEP decision may seem complex, but with the right support, it is a manageable endeavor. The California special education lawyers at Moore Law for Children are dedicated to providing the guidance necessary to ensure your child’s educational rights are upheld. Reach out to Moore Law for Children today for a consultation, and let us stand beside you in advocating for your child’s educational needs.