The school staff told me my 16 year old must participate in the IEP meeting. Is this true?

Yes. The federal law indicates that for a child with a disability beginning not later than when the child turns 16, or younger if determined appropriate by the IEP Team, the child must attend the IEP meeting. This is to address the requirement that the IEP team must consider the postsecondary goals and transition services for the child.

In accordance with the law (34 CFR 300.320(b)), the student will be invited and the school district will also identify any other agency that will be invited to send a representative. Many school districts gradually empower the student to take the lead in running his or her own IEP meeting. This is often referred to as self-advocacy or self-actualization.