Date of Award

Spring 3-22-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Communication Sciences and Disorders

First Advisor

Dr. Alison King, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, LSLS Cert. AVT

Second Advisor

Dr. Erin Wallace, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

Third Advisor

Dr. Shannon Salley, SLP.D., CCC-SLP


During the COVID-19 pandemic many professional settings used virtual platforms to conduct meetings that typically took place in person. Within the United States public schools, special education programs faced unique challenges when conducting students’ Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings. These meetings are mandatory and essential in creating an individualized plan to provide the necessary services and support for students or for monitoring their progress. As mandated through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), it is a legal right of parents and/or guardians to be afforded the opportunity to attend any meetings regarding the “identification, evaluation, and educational placement” of their child and meetings regarding the provision of Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) for their child (IDEA, 2004).

Caregivers and special education teams across the nation conducted virtua meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic to discuss special education services of students with many families and schools navigating virtual platforms for the first time. The purpose of this research is to determine how school personnel explained parental rights to caregivers through teleservices. Parental rights give caregivers certain powers regarding their child’s special education services. Caregivers have legal rights to access information about their child, written notices for meetings, and the ability to advocate for their child. Additionally, this research seeks to identify professional perspectives regarding barriers faced when explaining parental rights through online platforms during and after COVID-19. It is imperative that the field acknowledges and addresses the barriers created because of the use of virtual platforms during IEP meetings. Furthermore, it is essential that caregivers understand their rights and actively participate in decisions regarding their child’s education programs despite being virtual.

Forty-one IEP team members who oversaw the IEPs of students within public schools in Virginia during the 2020-2021 school year were surveyed to examine perspectives on parental rights and virtual IEP meetings. Survey results were analyzed using IBM SPSS (International Business Machines Corporation’s Statistical Package for the Social Sciences) software.

Results from the statistical analysis indicated that whether or not professionals receive training on the procedural rights booklet their district uses has a positive impact on their confidence addressing caregiver’s legal rights during virtual IEP meetings. The results suggest that district training on procedural rights is helpful to professionals when later discussing legal rights with caregivers during meetings. The statistical analysis also indicated that there is not a significant correlation between professional self-perceived knowledge of procedural rights and confidence addressing a caregiver’s legal rights during virtual meetings.



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