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Must Services in the IEP be Provided by a Special Ed Teacher?

12/17/09
by Wrightslaw

Can the school write in the IEP that the child will receive reading instruction/tutoring by a reading specialist who is not a special ed teacher?

Yes. The IDEA and federal special ed regs do not require that the services listed in the IEP must be provided by a special ed teacher. (Vote in the poll at the end of this article)

Here’s the background to the question:

My 10 year old with Downs Syndrome has made no reading progress over the last 4-5 years. A reading specialist recommended a new reading program, the school agreed. To help him catch up, we also asked for additional intensive services by this reading specialist, who would know how to implement and monitor the new program.

The school told us ” he cannot have it written in the IEP for services of the reading specialist since the specialist is not a special ed teacher.”

Must the school exclude a service from the IEP, if the child will be taught/tutored by a reading specialist who is not a special ed teacher? Is that true?

No. This is not true. The IDEA and federal special ed regs do not require that the services listed in the IEP must be provided by a special ed teacher.

Most children with disabilities receive much or all of their education in regular ed classes, and are taught by regular ed teachers. The IDEA requires that the child’s IEP team include at least one regular ed teacher because . . .

The regular ed teacher knows the curriculum and what students are supposed to learn and do. With input from the regular ed teacher, the team can determine what accommodations, supplementary aids and services, and modifications the child needs to learn and make progress. (Wrightslaw: All about IEPs, page 11)

The IEP must include all special education services, related services, and supplementary aids and services the child needs, and the school will provide. (Wrightslaw: All About IEPs, page 37)

If team proposes a service but resists writing it into the IEP, you might assume they don’t really plan to provide it.

If the parent has to request mediation or a due process hearing because the promised service was not provided, the parent will not prevail because the IEP does not include it.

Politely ask for a clarification and copy of the written policy (either federal, state, or local school district) that indicates a special ed teacher is required to provide services in the IEP. If you do not get a response, write a follow-up letter with a request for the policy.

Please vote in the poll.

My Child's IEP Includes:

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27 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Liz 03/25/14 at 2:02 pm

    My question is similar but opposite, can IEP goals be implemented by general Ed teachers?

  • 2 Susan 10/22/12 at 2:53 pm

    Also, for Marilyn:

    Follow-up for figuring out of the person is qualified: don’t just ask for the degrees and certifications. Ask what program is being used, and what kind of training does the person have in that program? Also, helpful to find out: what kind of experience does the person have and who is supervising them if they are not a special education teacher? How are results being assessed? Who will figure out if the program is effective? How will this be reported to you?

    Good luck!

  • 3 Susan 10/22/12 at 2:49 pm

    For Marilyn:

    I think the key is figuring out two things: 1) is the aid trained and qualified to do what they are being tasked to do, and 2) are you seeing any measurable results?

    In our experience, we had a situation in which the answers were 1) No, and 2) No.

    You need to go find out the answers to these questions.

  • 4 Krista 10/22/12 at 2:13 pm

    I am experiencing a “who is responsible for what” situation with my 15 year old with NLD and dyslexia. He is included for everything but math. He has special SDI regarding homework, study guides, testing accomodations, etc. These accomodations are not all being met because according to the LS teacher, my son needs to ask for them. They want him to advocate for himself. While I agree that self-advocacy is important, it seems wrong to expect the student to implement his own IEP. And when he does ask classroom teachers for accomodations, they don’t seem to understand. He has asked for word banks and concrete examples, he’s been told, the answers are in the book and be creative. How do I tactfully handle getting classroom teachers to actually modify and accomodate according to the SDI?

  • 5 karen 10/22/12 at 11:46 am

    I’m kind of in a unique position with this. My 16 y.o. daughter w/ Tourette’s, OCD and NLD requires residential level of service. Our district has agreed to that, however they are insisting on 2 placements that are grossly inappropriate (and unsafe!) for her. It states right in the IEP that they will *not* fund any placement that is not “special ed certified.”

    After searching far and wide, we finally found a placement to accommodate her VERY complex needs and profile. They are fully accredited, however they are not special ed certified. While I agree that in many cases it is advantageous to have special ed certified teachers, it’s not always possible in residential settings. So in our case, would this issue be in our favor?

  • 6 Leslie 10/22/12 at 10:46 am

    It should also be mentioned that literacy, reading and writing, is within the scope of practice of ALL speech-language pathologists. Often, speech-language pathologists are excluded from providing supports in this area because those administering IEPs are unaware and uninformed.
    I cannot tell you how many times a CSE or CPSE Administrator has asked me to rewrite my literacy goals because they are not the goals of a “talking therapist.”
    For further information on the Roles and Responsibilities of the Speech Language Pathologists see the ASHA document found at http://www.asha.org/pol00104.htm

  • 7 CMC 10/22/12 at 10:24 am

    @Beth- If the teacher/tutor isn’t proficient in his primary mode of communication, then how is he to benefit from the instruction?!?!

    He is entitled to someone that can communicate with him in his PMC, or at the least- they need to be providing a certified interpreter.

    Don’t let them get away with that at your son’s expense. Someone who took 3 ASL courses is not proficient enough to provide clear communication and language.

    Good luck!

  • 8 Morning 02/28/12 at 12:37 am

    I have learned that you have to look at the data to see if your child’s making progress. Data includes my child p’s commets which re important in those middle school years. Listen to then as some classes re more productive than others. If the school district does not fully have he staffing (and many do not)–you may have ti collaborate and focus on your child’s progress. As your child gets older, this is important as teacher become more overwhelmed. My chid is succeeding because I pushed for some things versus others. I do get tired but I am my child’s advocate. Every year, it is work but well worth it. The issue, for me, is not blame but collaboration. Each chid is unique and I focus on that.

  • 9 Sharon L. 02/05/12 at 4:04 pm

    Melissa – My son was on an OHI IEP for his ADHD & the school did write an IEP for him that included goals that pertained to his ADHD.The goals included behavioral goals, education goals, accommodations & modifications. We did have some difficulty getting the school to add educational goals at first. They stated that an OHI IEP is for modifications/accommodations only. We contacted the State of Ohio Department of Education Special Education Department. They told us the team can put any goals that are necessary, education goals and other goals. Whatever meets the child’s needs. I don’t understand why your school system is not writing an IEP . It is my understanding that they must do so. Perhaps a call to your state will help clarify.

  • 10 Melissa 02/04/12 at 11:09 am

    My son’s school qualified him for special education (based on other health impairment of ADD and specific learning disability of dyslexia), but refuses to write an IEP because he isn’t receiving services directly from

    He is in the regular education classroom receiving accommodation/modifications. He also has a reading specialist/interventionist. This reading specialist/interventionist is pulling him out of his regular education classroom for 60 minutes 5 days a week. Shouldn’t he have an IEP with the special education teacher as a consult to the regular ed teacher and reading interventionist?

  • 11 Understanding 12/19/11 at 11:00 pm

    Let us not discount the aids. Both sides made a good point. There is the law and the reality..for me as a parent I went the middle ground and my dyslexic child is making remarkable progress. Well trained parafrofessionals can do a lot under the supervision of a teacher. Paraprofessions with training can implement programs with fidelity and track data. The middle ground is important and will insure success as opposed to a frustrated teacher who truly cannot meet the needs of all students. Look at the and work with the staff. Your child will benefit more by your collaborative efforts and by any adverserial approach.

  • 12 Marne 12/02/11 at 3:45 pm

    Hi to Marilyn :-)
    I know it seems counter-intuative to have your child pulled out by “just an aid” and not a specialist. Ask yourself if your child is doing better tho. I felt that way when my dyslexic kiddo started into a similar “reading intensives” program. HOWEVER, in my kiddos case he was being helped by an aid who had her own dyslexic kiddo who was currently in his last year at college. She had completed several orton gillingham based reading instruction courses in order to help her own kiddo and was actually MORE qualified to help my kiddo than the special ed teacher, even tho she did not have a teaching degree. A special Ed teacher has to learn a little bit about a lot of things, including basic curriculum stuff. This wonderful lady probably would not have been able to teach math but she helped my guy more than any one else.

  • 13 DP 12/02/11 at 1:39 pm

    What about a class in a school district that provides the majority of its academic instruction (special education) via instructional assistants (who are not licensed special ed. instructors). My son’s previous class had everyone of its children with autism diagnosis instructed by an instructional assistant. All of the kids in the class are steered toward a functional curriculum regardless of ability.

  • 14 Kate 12/02/11 at 1:22 pm

    I believe that all children with IEPs should be taught by some one who can understand their situation. The regular ED teacher is not taught how to deal with these children. They do not have the training and a lot of times the understanding to deal well with special needs. Most regular ED teachers I know think it is a burden to have spec. needs kids. They did not go to school for special ed. They went for reg. ed, because that is what they want to teach.That is why they have different degrees. regular ed and special ed. The teachers are not up to the challenge of teaching the special needs children. I have seen it time and time again. Reg. ED getting special ED kids and not doing anything for them. They just sit in class and get ignored for the most part. Sad but true. They lie and say they are following it and fudge records. Good luck…

  • 15 Juanita 09/08/11 at 6:13 pm

    a special education teacher does not have enough time to deal with children with disabilities, because they work with the whole school in small counties. My son is 10 and cannot read and write. He does have disabilities but not that would stops him from learning to write. The help he has had comes from classroom aides. When I ask for help from a one on one, the answer is always well the aide can’t just work with one child. I am asking for a reading specalist for reading and math. if they refuse I am asking for medation

  • 16 Janie 06/08/11 at 12:33 pm

    Special educators are always in workshops learning how to handle situations with special education. Why would someone want to put all the responsibility in the hands of the regular teacher. Let’s look clearly at the picture. If you’re a vegetarian are you forced to eat meat. Special educators are well trained, furthermore, they received extra stipend to take care of the students needs; why not just leave it alone. i work with special education children and sometimes I think I am forced to forced them to work.

  • 17 survivor 01/30/11 at 2:49 am

    I understand needing to re-direct comments back to the original questions.. However – I think it is important to acknowledge people’s frustrations and feelings. I agree that parents expect and demand WAY too much from the public school system. They are lucky to be getting a FREE education for their children and just expect more and more. The burden should not rest soley with the schools.
    We, the teachers, did not give birth to these children. We are simply trying to do our jobs to the best of our ability with the limited resources we have and for meager pay!!!! I have survived this profession for 25 years but completely understand those who give up much sooner. This politically incorrect comment comes from my perspective as both a special ed teacher and mother of a gifted student. Those are the ones being sorely neglected!!

  • 18 Wrightslaw 05/18/10 at 11:59 am

    Sue here – I’m moderating today. I’ve been reading the comments on this post, so I’ll reply with what Pete and Pam always say. Wrightslaw is a no blame zone.

    Parent and teacher blaming are distractions. Blaming others doesn’t solve our problems. It’s easy to blame others. It’s not easy to devise solutions to problems that have many causes. That’s why we encourage you to learn about these issues. That’s why we teach you about the laws that are intended to ensure that our children receive the education they need.

    Wrightslaw is about helping others create solutions to problems. The Wrightslaw community is filled with individuals who are able to offer positive constructive suggestions. (2) Sharon asked for suggestions. Beth and Marilyn asked for help. Anyone have constructive answers to these questions?

  • 19 Both Sides 05/18/10 at 11:00 am

    I have found many more parents forcing themselves to take sides than teachers. Many parents I have observed base generalizations of ALL teachers from the worse teachers they have experienced. All school districts are strapped for funds/personnel/etc. Blaming the teachers or even the school district for this problem is like blaming a mechanic who hasn’t fixed your car for it breaking. If you psychologically need someone to blame, then blame the way schools are funded or the politicians who decide to require miracles and fund it with pennies. Blame-hungry parents are the reason I quit teaching Special Education. 24/7/365 advocacy/teaching/IEP meetings/informal, unpaid overtime/etc. made the decision for me. The passion for helping those students who desperately needed it drowned under power-hungry parents who couldn’t control anything else.

  • 20 Sharon L. 04/26/10 at 9:23 am

    Christina – Cookies have never helped me either. I agree. The more educated you are about your child’s rights the better. The sad truth is that the school never offers anything unless a parent asks. As far as the “gangup mentality” it helps to bring in your own professionals when needed even if it costs money. I have found that if I bring in a speed pathologist or psychologist or reading specialist from the outside the school really listens. I can just sit back and let them speak their language to one another. This has proven to be the best way to get what our child needs and it is more people on your side. (Too bad we have to feel like we are on “sides” instead of collaborating.).

  • 21 Christina 04/25/10 at 1:17 pm

    I have found that a squeeky wheel does get greased. But it can work both ways. Some years we have great teachers and some years are wasted with monkeys as teachers. You are all your child has. You have to stand up and speak for them even if you look like a crazy person doing it. I have found the more educated you sound the more they will listen and try to help your child. So make sure you throw in some American with LD act, section 504 of what evers in there and they sit straight up in their sets and starting writing what you want for your child in school. Just make sure you are prepared when you go in the meetings. B/c four or six teachers tend to gang up on one or two parents really quick and you walk out feeling beat up and your child has no chance of a good education. Cookies have never helped me.

  • 22 Marilyn 01/30/10 at 9:24 pm

    This is very interesting-My child has aids in the special ed room, no special ed teacher works with her, is this legal? can the special ed teacher be in another building while aids do the teaching? they are took out of the class room from a certified teacher for specialized help and receive it from a aid-HOW is that specialized?? Help

  • 23 Beth 01/26/10 at 8:49 pm

    Can anyone clarify what certifications teachers are required to possess when they are providing services in home-based instruction in OH? Are they required to be certified teachers only, or must they also be Intervention Specialists when teaching children with moderate to severe disabilities that include but are not limited to profound deafness and vision issues?

    My child has been placed on home instruction due to medical leave that stems from undue stress and anxiety and harm from the physical school environment. I have asked that they provide someone certified in ASL to provide services. They will not provide an Educational Interpreter. The person currently coming to my home is a certified teacher. This person is certified to teach handicapped and deaf handicapped. What does this mean? This person has completed 3 ASL courses. HELP!

  • 24 Darla 01/19/10 at 1:32 pm

    When asking questions regarding IEPs and services for a vote to be counted…it should be immediately followed by the question “Is it provided as stated in IEP?”

    My son’s IEP reads ok. They know how to write an IEP and they also know how to avoid providing it…its getting it all to happen where it falls apart. If you fuss about it you could end up with less…the team is large and I am one plus advocate…power in numbers comes into play…bring cookies

  • 25 karen 01/15/10 at 4:24 pm

    I firmly believe that all ‘specialist’ teachers within the education system must be required – at minimum- to complete an introductory course in special education. In addition, I firmly believe all ‘specialist’ teachers should be motivated to take a course in ‘coaching/motivation’.
    !. The majority of students requiring ‘specialized’ instruction will come from the population of students falling behind or in ‘special education’.
    2. These students come with a broach range of challenges – physical, behavioral and/or learning challenges.
    3. Students being taught by a specialist are struggling. Students. They first must be motivated to apply themselves at activities that are going to be difficult and cause frustration, even the very real sense of failure.

  • 26 Sharon 01/12/10 at 9:07 am

    This is very interesting because it is not what happens in NYC. If any academic goals are written into the IEP they MUST be provided by a special education teacher, because if it is on the IEP then it is considered special education. Many children in NYC who go to private schools and receive a type of voucher for their academic services, cannot find special education teachers with the correct license in order to provide those mandated services. Any suggestions?

  • 27 David1 12/18/09 at 9:17 am

    Special Education is not a place or a pre-packaged program.
    An IEP is an INDIVIDUALIZED Education Plan that can offer a wide variety of approaches to address the child’s INDIVIDUAL needs.

    Once an area of weakness has been identified, the IEP must have measurable goals with reasonable deadlines.
    If there are no goals or deadlines documented, you can expect there to be no progress. The objective becomes simply being on an IEP.

    When you have measurable goals, it places the responsibility on the school staff to locate a person who can deliver these results.

    If you hired a contractor to build a sidewalk in front of your house, you would never sign an agreement that he is to simply place concrete on the property. You would likely offer some sort of drawing and dimensions that map out what the end product is to look like.