Learn Your Special Education Laws, Special Education Rights, and Share IEP Goal Ideas

Aug 01
Avatar of Dennise Goldberg

by Dennise Goldberg

Five little words, made up of only sixteen letters that every parent has uttered at one point or another if their child has an IEP.  Who we said it to isn’t as important as the fact that we have all said it.  I have written in the past about my Top Ten Special Education Pet Peeves and the Top Ten Most Ridiculous Comments I Ever Heard at an IEP but it’s time to discuss a new topic.  Below are the top responses heard after I uttered the words, “but it’s in their IEP.” 

1.  Your child has an IEP no one ever gave me a copy? 

2.  Oh, I don’t read IEPs.

3.  It’s not fair to the other students if __________ (fill in the blank, I have heard them all).

4.  The Teacher has 150 students over six periods they don’t have time to do that.

5.  We lost our __________ Therapist and haven’t been assigned a new one yet (insert Speech, Occupational or Physical into the blank and they all apply).

6.  I misunderstood the IEP.

7.  It slipped through the cracks.

8.  Yah, I know, I owe you make up hours.

9.  Additional adult support during recess and lunch means more than the playground aides that are already outside?

10. Many children in my class have IEPs that require them to sit in the front; the whole class can’t sit in the front.

11. I was told the Director of Special Education had taken care of this prior to leaving on vacation.  Now you will have to wait.

12. Yah, we know we are out of compliance but the District hasn’t assigned the appropriate staff.

13. Why can’t the parents drive the child to school?

14. But the Teacher says they met the goal what other data do you need.

15. I don’t remember putting that in.

16. Well, we had SO MANY snow days this year it was hard for ALL OF THE CHILDREN to adjust.  I wouldn’t read too much into it (This one came from Jen Laviano’s article Weather or Naught but I always wanted to repeat it)

Tips:

  • Do not assume every Teacher was given a copy of your child’s IEP.  This is why it’s so important for you to make photocopies of your child’s IEP and bring copies to your child’s Teachers.  Remember in the upper grades they have 5 or 6 Teachers and it becomes even more crucial at this stage.
  • Do not assume every Teacher has read your child’s IEP.  This is why I always have a parent-teacher meeting at the beginning of every School year and hand each Teacher a cheat sheet of my child’s accommodations and services.
  • Mistakes and misunderstandings happen, we are only human, but that doesn’t mean your child is not entitled to the missed services caused by the misunderstanding.
  • Try and make the language in the IEP as clear as possible to limit mistakes and misunderstandings.  If you cannot understand the language contained in the IEP neither will anyone else.
  • Fairness is not about everyone getting the same thing it is about everyone getting what they need.
  • If the Teacher doesn’t have time to administer an IEP the School is not providing the appropriate aids and supports to make sure it happens.
  • Keep track of child’s services by periodically asking for the Therapist’s service logs.
  • When writing IEP goals make sure it’s clear how and when data will be collected to verify progress.
  • If your child doesn’t receive the services outlined in their IEP for any reason they are entitled to compensatory education.

What responses have you received after you uttered those five little words, “But it’s in their IEP.”  Add them to the comment section below and as they come in I will include them above.

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31 Responses to “But it’s in their IEP”

  1. “I used to be a special ed teacher for years – I know what I’m doing” My thought, “Well if you know what you are doing why aren’t you doing it right!?!” This teacher had not been giving the accommodations stated in the IEP and was stating that my daughter was not working up to her potential. Yeah that makes sense, she can’t do her best work when you haven’t given her to notes ahead of time as specified in her IEP.

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  2. I am a person who says that sometimes to teachers because I am a Special Education teacher. I have had to redo assignments myself (from other classes) so that one of “my kids” could actually accomplish it. Yes, I have heard the excuses and I remind them that they were given a copy (I hand deliver one to each of the student’s teachers) and they need to read it. We give them a shortened version with their accommodations highlighted. But, we still have problems sometimes. I have only once had a parent who said that and it was because she thought something was in the IEP and it wasn’t. We changed it to add the item she wanted. I believe that the parent is essential in the IEP process and try to help them whenever they want, after all, they know more about their child than anyone else.

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  3. When I met with my son’s regular ed teacher last year, 2 months after his admission to special ed, she pulled his IEP out of his file and read it for the first time, in front of me! One of his disabilities is short term memory loss. She looked at me and said, “How am I suppose to teach a child with short term memory loss?”. I about flipped my lid. I suggested she team up with the special ed teacher and school psychologist and formulate a plan. When that didn’t work, we threatened legal action. Amazing how smart she got when the principal was breathing down her back.

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  4. “You cannot have anyone come to these meetings.” A teacher told a parent this. the Parent told it to a Parent’s Group, and was then told by an Education Specialist, with Writelaw, that a Parent can have someone sit there with them at the meeting for Support of the PARENT not the TEACHER.

    Also the Parent found out that they do not have to sign anyhting at the meeting, theyhave the right to take ithome and show it to Someone who can help THEM, the PARENT.

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  5. Hi5! definitely sharing. Will try to pin on ‘EnjoyHi5Autism’ Pinterest boards: I am the ‘I’ in IEP, Educating & Learning & Teaching — http://pinterest.com/EnjoyHi5Autism/

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  6. “We don’t do that here.”

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  7. Oh I understand IDEA, I don’t want you to think that I don’t. I understand Least Restrictive Environment, and FAPE, I just chose not to follow it!

    Really????? State Complaint, and Due Process comes to mind., That got their attention!!!!!!

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  8. I 2nd “We don’t have that here” and raise you “That’s what that means?” and “We don’t have to do an evaluation”

    I’ve had 3, 5, 6, 8, 12(close – our district cut the co-teach position and had to open it back up when I pointed out the error), 13, 14

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  9. “yes I know its in his IEP but I really dont think he needs that”

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  10. Your child can’t take that class because we don’t cover that one. To which I said—”what you just said is illegal”

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  11. As a special education teacher, I can say that sometimes our hands are tied legitimately because of some of those reasons, which we are frustrated by as well!!! This past year the district I work for tried pulling a few ‘tricks’ that I and other SpEd staff KNEW was illegal..even the ISD SpEd director was behind our district. A recently retired colleague contacted the state on our students and our (the staff( behalf it was so out of line!! So yes, things are crazy sometimes, and many teachers and professionals are ON YOUR (parents) side. WE have to battle the same ridiculousness you do as well. Luckily, things have changed as people have retired and things are looking up. I’m so sorry that advocating for a childs’s needs is so frustrating. I”m glad you have a place to vent and share ideas. Please realize that educators are not all out to ‘get’ you or purposefully denying anyone their rights/services. Thank you!!

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  12. Let’s make a HUGE qualification on this post:

    “Top responses from people not doing their jobs to begin with.”

    Your post makes it sound like these are the only things a teacher/administrator would say.

    We’ve got to stop perpetuating this belief that teachers are always looking for excuses.

    And teachers need to stop perpetuating the belief that parents are overly demanding and unreasonable.

    I find posts like this borderline professionally irresponsible.

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    • I’m sorry you are taking this post personally but I can tell you as an advocate that has attended thousands of IEP’s in 20 plus school districts non-compliance is one of the biggest issues I see and hear about daily. It’s my job has an advocate to educate and train parents. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best. It would be much more irresponsible of me has an advocate to not address these issues. If you are aware of what you might hear you can prepare for it and just because you prepare for it doesn’t mean you will hear it.

      I highly recommend you read this article:

      http://www.specialeducationadvisor.com/the-most-important-article-you-never-saw-unless-you-teach-in-california/

      Even the Teacher’s associations are beginning to speak freely about these issues.

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  13. A very good summary of all this ‘cheap’ reactions of teachers or school staff to parents.
    As ‘professional’ (working in Europe) I recognize all these replies to parents or even to me, when I was engaged to support the child and the school team. I also felt very often embarrassed for these bolt reactions.
    I think I’ll use this ‘overview’ in coming training sessions and meetings. It is a very good eye opener and strong base for a in-depth discussion. Why not using this in staff meetings in schools or in gr oup meetings of parents in schools? Thanks for the initiative to bring further reactions together. This is not a ‘polarization between parents versus teachers. This is something where professionals and parents need to built joint ventures to make schools better and more really inclusive.

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  14. “I asked her and she said she didn’t want ____________.”
    “She never said anything about needing_______________.”
    “I looked through the door at her and she seemed to be doing fine so she didn’t need ______________.”
    My daughter was hospitalized 6 times in the first 4 months of school for suicidal ideation and she would LITERALLY rather die than let anyone at school see she was having difficulty. Teachers were ignoring her IEP because she said she didn’t want/need help when asked.

    “You know he’s almost an adult. He’s going to have to start dealing with ___________.” I heard arguments about Least Restrictive Environment a LOT for my son who does better with lots of structure and caring support in a small, non-chaotic environment with LOTS of supervision. I finally responded with, “Just because he’s almost 18 doesn’t mean he’s READY for ____________. You keep saying he’s going to be in the real world where he’s going to have to deal with ______________, but the reality is that giving him ________ when he’s not ready for it won’t MAKE him ready and the truth is he is trying to set up his life so that he’s NOT in your version of the real world (chaotic and big, unsupervised classes). ” in the end, he didn’t get the support he needed to get the classes and structure that would help him live in a version of the world that he could function in… and now he’s in jail for a first degree felony. He’s finally got the structure he needed.

    Mary

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  15. One thing I do every year for all my children’s teachers is write a one page letter at the beginning of every school year that gives a very brief history of my child, and his/ her issues, what has or hasn’t worked in the past and my contact information. I send a copy to EVERY one of their teachers, counselors, assistant principals…

    Here’s some samples http://marythemom-mayhem.blogspot.com/2012/07/new-school-year-letters.html

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  16. It’s my understanding that ANYONE (including teachers and educational staff) who advocates for people with disabilities (ex. a student whose IEP is being violated) is protected from retaliation under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Section II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The legal precedent for this is the 9th Circuit Court’s opinion on Susan Lee Barker v. Riverside County (CA) Dept. of Education.

    Viola! No one needs to wait for anyone to retire anymore. JUST DO IT! Do the right thing when your school district or supervisors or fellow teachers or therapists or aides or assistants or bus drivers or bus monitors break federal special education law and neglect, mistreat, or abuse your special education students. Do it and earn the undying gratitude of your students and their parents. Do it and regain your credibility. Do it and others will follow your example……..

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  17. When my autistic son was headed for kindergarten (after coming out of a wonderful preK for autistic kids) we had a meeting with all the relevant people. The woman who was going to be his kindergarten teacher looked over his IEP, had problems with several points and actually said to me, “It isn’t going to happen.” His speech therapist (from school the year before) was there and she was livid. It almost came to blows. I hadn’t expected it to go that way and was very upset, almost in tears. She said she was afraid if he was in her class, he would take too much attention away from the other students (it was a mainstream class). I said I had a very similar fear, that if he was in her class, she wouldn’t think he mattered enough to give him the attention he needed. I wound up by saying, “You’re right, it isn’t going to happen, because he isn’t going to be in your class.” It was agreed upon (after she left) that he would go into a special ed kindergarten, which was what I had wanted in the first place. I never felt mainstreaming was appropriate for my son, while I know it’s fine for many kids. The principal was clearly embarrassed at her teacher’s behavior, but did nothing about it. I was grateful to have the speech therapist at my side. No parent should leave an IEP meeting in tears. But I did that day.

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  18. Our school provides little to no assistive technology. We fought for a year to have the school provide a laptop for my 11 year old to help him bypass poor handwriting. After his work was still coming home handwritten and illegible I asked the school why this was happening and their response was,”he CHOOSES not to use it.”

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  19. “Your child’s LD’s are cured.”

    “The district doesn’t have a written policy for AT so it is impossible to consider it at this time.”

    “We practice full-inclusion therefore it is not necessary to document individual accommodations/modifications.”

    “Your child is passing.”

    “We cannot do that unless you grant us complete access to all of your child’s medical and personal records.”

    “You’ve already been told…we don’t do that here.”

    “That’s against policy.”

    “That’s not how we do things here.”

    “Our policy trumps the law. If you don’t like it, then file for due process, I dare you.”

    “We’ve hot lined you before and we’ll do it again.”

    “Your child should know this stuff by now.”

    “When this plan doesn’t work, then what? When does it stop?”

    “We don’t like to assign labels.”

    “All the teachers will do is lower standards for your child, everyone does it, and everyone knows it.”

    “Yes, we received your hand-delivered copy, emailed PDF, USPS copy of the IEP, and formal requests to meet. It’s impossible to read and implement every plan.”

    “My job is to teach, not worry about IEP’s.”

    “Maybe if you and your child applied more effort instead of trying to find an easy out.”

    “My nephew has (insert diagnosis), so I know all about (insert diagnosis), and your child doesn’t have (insert diagnosis).”

    “You’re being overprotective, it’s time to cut the cord.”

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  20. I know this is about IEPs but I had a foster child a few years apart that had muscular dystropy and was in a motorized wheelchair. He was in second grade and field day was approaching. (He had a 504) The gym teacher called me in to let me know he wasn’t going to be able to participate in field day events because it wasn’t fair to the other students in the event his chair moved faster than they could run. I turned around, without saying a word, and went to the principal and the counselor. When I told them what the teacher said they were absolutley speechless. I didn’t fuss, I just quoted. Now here is the solution…as I was leaving the school with him loaded in the van I made a call to the medical supply, 65 miles away, that the chair was purchased from and told them what I had been told. The technician met me half way at 6:00 pm that evening and he programmed his chair for “wide open, full speed”. He had a blast at field day! We met the technician that next evening and he slowed the speed down to normal for school. Sometime you have to take things into your own hands.

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  21. Mentor-type teacher with an attitude (backed by well over 20 years of experience), “It’s only an IEP.”

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  22. My son is considered severely disable by the state and isn’t even close to grade level in anything. His second grade teacher told me “Im a general ed teacher. IEPs are for the special ed staff.” When I pushed her on reading the IEP she said she doesn’t like them because they are negative and she prefers to make her own judgements. When I said the school legally had to follow the IEP whether my son was in the general ed class or pulled out for services she responded with, “How can a child have a fresh start if you use an IEP? You are trying to make it seem worse than it is by using an IEP.” Uhm, he is severely disabled and can’t do any of the work w/o accommodation!

    Even more frightening is the school my son attended had 700 students and this teacher had her MSA and was hoping to become principal!!! Can someone really have a masters degree in school administration and not know an IEP needs to be followed whether the teacher is a special ed teacher or general ed teacher? WOW

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  23. Your son choses not to put any effort into his work.Suggested he is frustrated and shuts down 2 out of 4 teachers agreed.Teacher had to have me tell him my 4 th graders social studies book written on a 6 the grade level was difficult for someone with a 1st to 2nd grade reading level. Speaking of reading level my son was digagnosed in 2 nd grade. And was at a 1st grade reading level and now in forth grade is still at a 1st grade reading level

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  24. John said on May 17, 2013

    “We don’t have a behavior plan on the IEP because the student doesn’t HAVE any behaviors!” This from the school psychologist when asked if there was a support plan in place for a student. We went on to explain to this multi credentialed school professional that a behavior doesn’t need to be disruptive in order to be a problem. In this case, a child with autism would go off task, stare at the ceiling, and become isolative whenever a worksheet was presented. The teacher’s solution was to have the student’s aide take the student to the back of the room and draw. Didn’t take much to point out that there WAS a behavior – the student got what she wanted; she avoided the assignment and got to draw – and the school pros were missing the big picture, which was that an honest to goodness “behavior” was being manifested, and, although other things contributed, it was as a result of the student’s disability. A behavior support plan was then put into place, recognizing that staring at the ceiling and engaging in avoidance and shutting down, while not disruptive to the class, was a behavior for which a simple plan could become effective. And, so, it was put into the IEP:-) It did not cost the district anything, the psychologist actually moved away, and in short order, replacement behaviors were used and the student was doing worksheets and better accessing the general ed curriculum. ALL students and scenarios are different, but this was a case of just looking at things with a wide view, at least in my opinion. – John

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  25. My child has had a rough year and has gotten in trouble for sassing teachers, writing curse words, and other misdemeanors. I asked the staff (several of them) if they thought a behavior plan should be looked into – they all said the behaviors were minor.

    Then, one staff member unilaterally implemented what I, um, fondly call the “chart of shame.” This was a table with a list of the behaviors they disliked, and was filled out daily with the most petty remarks I’ve EVER seen from professionals.

    I let it go for two weeks, then contacted our main SpEd teacher, and told her that I was wondering what was with the chart of shame… She said I’d asked for a behavior plan, so I got one.

    I explained that no, a behavior plan was done by a behaviorist, and would include positive remedies instead of subtle (and sometimes overt) shaming of a child.

    I’m still shaking my head over this, months later.

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  26. My son has a IEP plan which he received at the end of his 4th grade year. Now he just started 5th grade and is having setbacks with one teacher. During the open house I told her how happy I was last year when we recevied his IEP and for the first time he mad honor roll in entire life. She told me “well we wont use that as a handicap”, I let it slide and now she said he wont do work in her class but will in the other teachers class and its unfair to the other students that he fails a test and retakes it in the resource room and gets an A. My question is who is it unfair to again. I think she has stated this in front of the class and my son and i dont like that. Any suggestions or help.

    My son emotionally shuts down when he is discourged and i believe this is the case.

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  27. “That’s what the handouts I gave you were for.”

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  28. in the most recent P/T conference I asked if an accommodation had been made and the teacher asked me, “Is that in his IEP?” and nothing more… {sigh}

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