Is Your School District Not Complying With Your Child’s IEP?
Take 5 Important Steps
March 28, 2013 By Marion Walsh
An IEP sets out the educational program for your child and is essentially a contract with your school district. But in some cases, you may have concerns that your child’s teachers are not following the IEP. For example, if your child is supposed to have sensory breaks or extended time on tests and this is not happening, this can have a huge impact on your child. Here are five steps to take:
1. Investigate and Ask Questions
Collect details and facts before you put a letter in writing to your child’s teacher. Get some basic idea of what is happening. Don’t just listen to your child’s reports but gather as much documentation as possible.
2. Send Specific Comments to Teachers in Writing
Begin with a letter or email expressing concern to the teachers and note that your child is falling behind and is frustrated. Make sure you copy the school district director of special education. Provide specific examples of ways that they have not complied with his IEP. Be calm and courteous. Give very specific examples, with dates, times and specific issues.
For example, you may write:
On Tuesday, in English class, my son had trouble completing homework and did not turn it in. You penalized him with a “0” grade even though his IEP provides that he must receive extended time for homework assignments.
On Wednesday, my son had a behavioral incident in class and rather than following his IEP and using positive reinforcements, you yelled at him and made him stay in recess.
If the problems continue keep writing the notes. Document how your child is falling behind. The letters not only will help you address the problems, but will also document the concerns in the event that you have to file for due process and prove a violation of FAPE.
At this point, it will not help going to the Board of Education or the Superintendent of Schools, as they will be likely to defer to the Director of Special Education and IEP team.
3. Focus on Documented, Important Violations
Focus on the important documented problems. If there are a few trivial implementation lapses, focus less on these than the major issues.
4. Ask for IEP Meeting
If the problems do not improve, ask in writing for an IEP meeting. Bring your letter and ask teachers for input. If teachers give general assurance, push for more specifics.
5. Hire an Advocate or Attorney
If the problems continue, you will have to seek outside help. Hire an advocate or attorney to attend the CSE and advocate. The advocate or attorney can also help you to utilize your specific remedies, such as due process. Not following the IEP is a violation of the law. If the lapses deny your child of a FAPE, you do have remedies, such as compensatory education for your child.
Marion M. Walsh, Esq. is an attorney with Littman Krooks LLP who focuses her practice on special and general education advocacy. Prior to practicing law, Marion worked in legal publishing and has written books and advice for school administrators around the country on all aspects of education law. Marion is admitted to practice in New York and the U.S. District Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York. She is also a certified impartial hearing officer for children with disabilities by the New York State Education Department.