So, the IEP meeting is finally over (whew) and all the services have been set for your child. But, after some time has passed (maybe even only a week), you find out your child’s IEP is not being followed.
What do you do?
First, know that…once your child’s IEP is developed, the school district must provide the services listed in the IEP right away.
Not next week, not when they figure out scheduling, not when they feel like it…but right away!
However, if you find out they are not, here are a few things that you can do:
Contact your child’s teacher or case manager.
Sometimes parents want to file a complaint immediately. However, since this can be a long and taxing process, I always suggest to start with the easiest option: talking to your child’s teacher. During this time, ask detailed questions about what you have learned about your child’s services. For example, if you find out that Johnny is not receiving 60 minutes of reading instruction twice a week, you can contact your child’s teacher via email (use email so that you have documentation of the time and date that it was sent) and express your concerns. When you state your concerns about Johnny’s reading instruction, make sure that you are very detailed in the email stating what services Johnny is supposed to be receiving and what you notice that he is receiving. As you communicate with your child’s teacher, create a folder to save all email correspondences because you may need this documentation later. Occasionally during this process, you may have settled the problem right here, due to miscommunication about required services. This is why I always suggest to start with this option.
But despite your efforts, you are still not able to rectify why your child’s IEP is not being followed…
Call an IEP meeting.
Contact your child’s teacher or case manager again and let them know that you would like to schedule an IEP meeting. Make sure to state that you would like the Special Education Director and School Principal to attend. 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. Inviting other school personnel can help you get a quicker response. During this meeting, discuss your concerns about why your child’s IEP is not being followed. Have any documentation ready to present to the IEP team (i.e. emails, classwork, behavior sheets, communication logs).
Unfortunately, even after you have had an IEP meeting, you may find that your child’s IEP is still not being followed. Now you have the option to…
File a state complaint or request a due process hearing.
Review your state’s Procedural Safeguards and look at their process for filing formal complaints against the school district. Before or during this process, you may want to find an advocate or attorney to help you with your complaint. Again, make sure you have any documentation ready for this process. You want to be able to prove that the school district was noncompliant with your child’s IEP.
Some Important Things To Remember
Know what services are listed in your child’s IEP. You will not know what services are not being followed if you do not know and understand your child’s IEP.
Ask questions. Because the language written in an IEP can be so vague and ambiguous at times, you want to know that your interpretation is the same as the school districts’. Sometimes it is not. This is why you have to be aware of each service that your child is supposed to receive and whether the delivery of that service is sufficient or not.
Document everything! If you speak to your child’s teacher or therapist write down the date, time and a summary of what was discussed. Communicating through email? Save all those emails. Have you received any forms or records or an additional copy of your child’s IEP? Create a binder to put it in.
Check in on your child’s services. You will not know if your child’s IEP is not being followed if you do not make periodic check-ins. If your child can verbally communicate with you, ask them about their day, what teachers they saw and what they did with them. If your child cannot verbally communicate this information, ask your child’s teacher, case manager or therapist about how your child is progressing. Also, save any completed work that is sent home and compare it to previous completed work to see if there are any improvements. Lastly, ask your child’s teacher the best time that you may come in to observe your child in their program.
You do not always have to go in this order (as in the process listed above). However, I always recommend to start with contacting your child’s teacher. Sometimes you are able to rectify the problem with an initial contact.
Know that if this is happening on a continuous basis (your child is not receiving services listed in their IEP) you have the option to file a formal complaint.
If you find out that your child has missed a numerous amount of services, ask the IEP team how these services can be recouped. An option could be to add more time to the services listed in their IEP.