Getting through an IEP meeting can be such a relief. You finally feel that you have a plan for your child and your child will now receive the services that they need. However, participating in the development or update in your child’s IEP is only the first part. The second part is making sure that it is being implemented appropriately. Sadly, this is where many parents drop the ball. They rely too much on the school system to make sure that their child’s IEP is being implemented, instead of staying contact with your child’s teacher to make sure you know what is going on in the classroom.
Once your child’s IEP is developed, the school district must provide the services listed in the IEP right away.
No matter what time of the school year, you have your child’s first or annual IEP meeting, the services listed in the IEP should be implemented immediately. Of course, unless services are noted to begin the next school year.
If you find out that services are not being implemented appropriately, the first thing you need to do is contact your child’s teacher via email or a typed letter. I always suggest using email or letter (keep a copy for yourself) because you have documentation (for the future) that you are addressing this topic. If your child is in inclusion, you want to contact their case manager or the special education teacher that is servicing your child. For example, if you find out that Mary is not receiving 45 minutes of math instruction twice a week, write a detailed email or letter that states your concerns about Mary’s math instruction. In your communication, state what services Mary is supposed to be receiving and what you notice that she is receiving. Make sure you save any replies that you receive.
At this point, you may have settled the problem, due to a miscommunication about required services, a mistake or another related issue. If you have not, then it is time to set up an IEP meeting. During this time, you want to contact your child’s teacher or case manager again and let them know that you would like to schedule an IEP meeting. Since the problem was not rectified in the beginning, ask that the Special Education Director and School Principal to attend. The reason for this is most of the time, the Special Education Director and School Principal are not aware of what is going on with each student is the classroom. When you invite other school personnel, it can also help you get a quicker response. At the IEP meeting, discuss your concerns about why your child’s IEP is not being followed and document the result of the meeting.
When you call an IEP meeting and discuss that an IEP is out of compliance, the issue is usually immediately rectified. However, in some cases, the parent may feel that school is still not servicing their child appropriately. If this is the case, then you should file a state complaint or request a due process hearing. Before you decide to go down this road, make sure you review your State’s Procedural Safeguards because each state lists their process for filing formal complaints against the school district. You should also find an attorney to help you with your complaint. Filing a complaint against the school district can be a tedious process, so whichever attorney you use, they should be well-versed in special education law and due process hearings.
If you know what services are listed in your child’s IEP, then you will know what services are not being followed.
This goes back to what we discussed in the chapters Know Your Child’s IEP and Communicating with Your Child’s Teacher. If you do not make periodic check-ins, you will not know what is happening in the classroom. Always stay involved to make sure that your child is getting the services that they need.
**This is an excerpt from How to Have a Great School Year: A Guide for Special Needs Parents, where you will find 16 tips to help your child have a successful school year. Click here to buy your copy.