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I’m a teacher, and I know IEPs aren’t being followed. What do I do?

by Pam Wright

“I am a teacher in — and I know that IEPs are not being followed…What do I do? I have already talked to people in the school system. I want information that explains why it’s so important for teachers to take this seriously, including the legal ramifications.

I want our new teachers to understand their accountability with regard to this aspect of teaching.”

What should you do?  I think it depends on –

  • whether the administration is aware that IEPs are not being followed, and
  • if they do know, why they haven’t put a stop to it?

In 1992, there was a case in West Virginia styled Doe v. Withers. A high school history teacher refused to provide the modifications promised to a student. Several people advised the history teacher about the need to provide these modifications but he refused.

The boy failed the exam. Later, the family filed a civil lawsuit against several people who worked at the school – teachers, special ed director, etc – and who knew the teacher refused to provide the modifications.

The parents brought suit against several individuals who worked for the school district. The judge did not allow the case to go forward against anyone except the history teacher.

Why? Because all the other staff members had written about their concerns.

There was a jury trial. The jury awarded the student and/or his family about $15,000 – and that history teacher had to pay these damages out of his own pocket.

Doe v. Withers was the first damages case against a teacher for refusing to follow the IEP. There have been several other such cases since.

School Culture in Your District

  • What is the culture in your school district?
  • Are children with disabilities and their families viewed in a positive or negative light?

If the administrators have a negative view of special ed and kids with disabilities, it is unlikely that anything will change until they move on, or until a parent requests a due process hearing and these things are exposed to the public. But that may not happen, or the outcome of the hearing may not be favorable to the parent and child.

In general, we recommend that teachers put their concerns in writing.

This has to be done very carefully so you are not viewed as a troublemaker. Otherwise, you may find yourself in hot water.

When you put your concerns in writing, you write a letter that assumes that the administration is not aware of these problems and cannot correct them unless they know.

You have heard about the Doe v. Withers case, and W.B. v. Matula. You are are concerned about your liability because you know IEPs are not being followed. You know the administration would want to know so they can handle it.

First Special Education Damages Case

Here is some more information that should be helpful.

The case was noteworthy because it was the first special education damages case and the first case in which damages were assessed against a teacher who refused to comply with an IEP.

You can find other damages cases since that time on this page:

Thanks for caring about the kids.


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85 Comments on "I’m a teacher, and I know IEPs aren’t being followed. What do I do?"

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11/24/2015 1:07 pm

I am a parent and know that my sons IEP does not fit he needs nor the school follow IEPs. My son is in a self contained class grade 5th. He has a reading level at the end of second grade beginning of 3rd grade since 2ndgrade. He is 4 years behind. I have tried court and I also have said to the case manager that you do not have what my son needs in school. iT has gotten me no where. M son will be attending 6th grade next year I am terrified.

11/21/2015 4:45 pm

I came from the special education environment. I know what children with exceptionalities need. I was recently told the special education team needs to modify quizzes. I have NEVER changed quizzes. Appropriate accommodations are given ex: more time, visuals, using notes, taking test orally, or shortened version of the test, but not modifying quizzes.This is VERY frustrating.

Please suggest ways I can come across to this new school.I do not want them to be set up to FAIL in high school. In high school tests are given. If the student’s IEP indicates they can take the regular standardized test, no… Read more »

11/18/2015 9:32 pm

I am a relatively new special education teacher in PA. I try to advocate for my students whose grades are inflated and not receiving services needed but ended up fired. No lawyer will take my case, too much work not enough money. I gave up after fighting two years.I checked out similar schools and saw the same situations. In new school I thought was better but I see similar issues here too. .I am afraid to say too much. But I try doing a lot myself and still don’t get very all of PA like this?

11/12/2015 10:34 pm

I am an intervention specialist, I pull my students for specially designed instruction in phonics/decoding and reading. My principal says I can pull non-IEP kids with my IEP kids. Is it still Specially Designed instruction if its available to everyone?

11/08/2015 7:59 pm

My son has an IEP with a behavior plan. I am told consistently that his school does not have the staff or training to work with him. Most recently told by one of his teachers that he should not be part of general educatiom. I want the best for my child but feel I keep running into walls.

what do you want?
11/05/2015 3:33 pm

my wife was a special ed teacher for 13 years she switched schools to be closer to where our kids would go to school . She and the school psychologist caught the other special ed teacher forging signatures on iep’s and iep,s that were word for word every year because goals were not being met and nobody cared. my wife raised a fit because kids were being denied a good education. Since my wife was not tenured she got fired and the bad special ed teacher remains.

Michelle D
11/04/2015 10:04 am

For 12 years, I have struggled with the school systems to provide an appropriate education, and an appropriate IEP. My son is 17 years old in 11th grade, and he will most likely drop out in about a month. Years of compulsory attendance, years of 10-12 IEP meetings each school year. Years of disagreement of the IEP, multiple test and evaluations that say the same thing time and time again – Only to get offered the same thing. Access does not always equal benefit.

11/03/2015 12:00 pm

I want to continue on my previous post. Given evaluation results that often do not describe students’ present levels of performance, the subsequent IEP goals do not address the student’s true educational needs. As well, goals are typically written to fit a student into an ongoing or pre-existing instructional group which further separates the IEP from the educational needs of the student. My suggestion would be to direct your initial effort on building the IEP because implementing a faulty IEP may do more harm than good.

11/03/2015 11:26 am

I am a school psychologist. I know that in most cases the interpretation of evaluation results are incomplete and do not reflect the present level of performance of most students. The biggest culprits are incomplete observations (performed in only one setting and are not relevant to the presenting concerns), identification of auditory processing disorders (administration of an assessment instruments not designed for auditory processing coupled with incomplete knowledge of auditory processing and corresponding modifications) and over-reliance on composite test scores (surface level interpretations without including item analysis and testing observations).

10/13/2015 5:36 pm

my daughter has trouble learning understanding and thinking, her school wont give her an iep evaluation. we have tried for 2 years. she cant remember anything she learns at all. its a huge struggle for her. she’s in high school and is still struggling. the teachers just say come to class more and read you lessons. (shes home schooled 12th grade). she still hasn’t passed her ogts because of learning difficulties. her teachers say they cant give her an IEP because shes not doing her homework all the time. me and her both explain its because she has very… Read more »

11/03/2015 12:22 pm

From your description, it sounds like they evaluated your daughter because not “giving” her an IEP would be a decision based upon a determination that she did not meet eligibility criteria. However, it is unclear whether you are speaking of their decision not to perform an initial evaluation or she did not qualify for services.

02/22/2015 11:31 am

The school did not make an IEP for my son. They also were found guilty by the board of education for 5 of his constitutional rights being broken. He has many disabilities. I need an attorney to handle his case. What they did was not fair to my child. All i want is an education for my son like every other child receives. This has to stop, and we need to start speaking up. It took me over a year fighting for him, but it was worth it.

04/20/2015 8:33 pm

I graduated with a IEP Certificate. I wanted to become a police officer. I cannot find a good job because I am labeled of not graduating high school. But I did.
Walked right off the stage in a cap and gown.
My pin of my year I graduated and to this day from 2011 I have been fighting to get my GED!!! When I was in school I had a 1-on-1 to help me with my homework and class work. I can’t even find a tutor out here that’s how much of a lack this education system is.
It’s a struggle to know… Read more »

01/14/2015 1:07 am

I’m writing because now that I know more about ieps for my two children, I wish I had filed a law suit against my children’s school, to get to the point, my daughter has HFA and when she was in first grade I knew that she was not getting an appropriate education, she only had 30 min a day she was pulled out for resource, the next year I was able to change schools but I had to hold her back in first grade because the school had done such a poor job, btw she was in a regular first… Read more »

08/29/2015 12:18 am

Brenda, I went through the same as you, struggled with holding him back and learned I had many more options than I was aware of. It has affected my son, being held back, however; I keep it on the positive with him. The schools, they tell you as little as possible. If it were not for friends in the district, I would have been at a total loss still. You are the best advocate for you child and be proud she is where she is at.

01/08/2015 5:35 pm

My daughter is on an IEP and her teacher left for her with No lesson plans for 3 weeks and left it up to her Aid and Substatute teacher to figure out. What should I do ????? My child lost 3 weeks of time to further her education.

04/23/2015 1:15 am

Did you find out what to do? We have a similar situation.

09/21/2014 6:51 pm

I am a special education teacher and was recently told not to address goals in 16 students’ IEPs. I was told that ‘we’ do not have time for that and that we may not even have time to meet the resource goal of 30 min/day. I was handed an old standardized test and told to use that as a my teaching tool. I was told to no longer help the students understand their daily work. I was told that my goal should not be to improve their reading level or their ability to understand math concepts… Read more »

03/25/2014 9:31 pm

I’m a parent that recently had my kid 6 years old kicked out of school. The IEP team has decided my kid should attend another school, and has registered him without my consent. I have not had a medical professional to diagnosis my kid with anything. The principal packed his things and put them in a plastic bag and sent them with him when he left school. This is an awful impression for any kid to have. In addition its one quarter left in school and he would have not attended that school next year any way due to… Read more »

03/06/2014 5:21 pm

I am a teacher and I just found out that one of my students is being transferred to another classroom through an e-mail. I went to his case manager and asked why and here they hadn’t even told her yet. She received the e-mail this morning that there had been a meeting on it 2 days ago. This meeting was between the speech pathologist and education managers, shouldn’t have the case manager been involved with this?

02/09/2014 4:31 pm

During a recent annual case conference review, the committee expanded an ‘independence goal’ for a student with one-on-one paraprofessional assistance. This expansion includes the concept of ‘fading’ (gradually increasing physical space/distance between the student and para, while still monitoring student behavior & preserving student safety). I have noticed that the para is not ‘fading’ proximity, but is instead, removing herself from the proximity. Is this not considered a violation of the IEP? The PARA is not happy with this goal and fears for her job security.Suggestions to deal with this para?

11/05/2015 11:39 am

Are you the classroom teacher? If so, then you should be providing that para with direction. Is the child is successful at the task without the para? Even if he or she has to struggle a bit? If so, then the fading is at an appropriate level.

02/08/2014 8:40 pm

My son has a mild Traumatic Brain Injury and the EC Director refuse to let any one come in to train the staff about how it affects his behavior and learning. He told me there were not enough students like him to train the staff. My heart almost stopped. The staff teach him like he does not have a disability. This is very stressful for him because he can’t keep up with other students and the staff get very up set with him. He comes home sad because the teachers call him names in front of… Read more »

12/23/2013 11:26 am

Is a district required to follow a student’s behavior plan after school hours? If the event initiated during the day and extended into after-school hours, does the school/staff have to follow the IEP/Behavior Plan?

Thank you,


Ms. T
10/04/2013 3:20 pm

This is a very helpful page! I have been working in a daycare center as the integrated teacher less than a year in the 3’s and 4’s. Last year my students went without an OT for MONTHS before I got here. This is a common problem with this company. Currently I have a student with Speech 2x/30min a week on his IEP and he has not received services since the summer! The company didn’t renew their contract w the ST after July 2013. It’s deplorable and I do not know what to do!! They are well… Read more »

11/05/2015 11:41 am

is this through the public school? A private agency does not have the legal requirement to follow an iep like the schools do.

06/21/2013 10:34 am

As a parent – if you got the IEP straight and yet teachers seem unaware or not following it – what should be the next step?

06/20/2013 10:01 pm

Thanks for your work. It’s helped me a lot. This article is wonderful for teachers who do try to do the right thing and also for parents and advocates to understand there is legal accountability for teachers who do not. Thank you.

06/20/2013 11:49 am

Susan: Just wondering if you have contacted your schools administration with your concerns about your son’s absentee sped teacher? Seems like a good first step.

06/20/2013 11:46 am

Sharon and Angelica,

Just a note that if you do decide to go with an independent speech eval for your son, the school district is not required to accept/follow that recommendation. Districts retain their own professionals for completing evals who can and most likely will dispute the results of the eval you submit, which means you’re headed to due process.

05/31/2013 11:35 am

My son has an IEP via a on-line school. He has been attending this school for two years. Each year around PSSA’s my sons’ emotional support teach disappear. They work the PSSA testing. However, last year the teacher disappeared in March and reappeared the end of April. This year the teacher (different teacher) disappeared in March and reappeared near the end of May. She called me and asked questions about changing his Math goal to focus on division and his writing goal to focus on writing. Later she called back to change his… Read more »

04/21/2013 11:04 pm

Can a principal place resource student in a regular classroom with his or her accommodations .

02/26/2013 3:57 pm

Tamie, The first thing you need to do is write a letter to the principal and the school psychologist (hand delivered) that requests testing for your daughter. It should be testing that includes cognitive, academic, processing, as well as rating scales for ADHD.

02/26/2013 9:41 am

Our school/district has been found non-compliant by the state. The “corrective action” the State required was that the District provide a memorandum to appropriate personnel informing them of the laws and directing them to comply with the law. Nothing happens to the district when they are non-compliant. They have no incentive to actually follow laws. And now, within a month of the State’s directive for corrective action, I get to file 2 more non-compliance complaints.

12/12/2012 3:50 pm

I am the resource teacher at an elementary school. It has recently come to my attention that a student I teach will not be allowed to go on a school wide field trip with her class. The regular education teacher has told the principal either she(the teacher) will take her class and the student does not go, or the student goes and a substitute takes the entire class because she (the teacher) does not want to and will not deal with her. The IEP plainly states the student will be involved in all extracurricular activities as well… Read more »

Tina Al-Sayyed
11/03/2015 10:24 am

The school should be providing an aid to go with this child on the field trip, this teacher should not be dictating the situation…504 law states that schools are responsible to provide accommodations for the child to attend field trips and school sponsored outings (like concerts or choir events that are off school property)- they can not deny this child the opportunity to attend such events! So to me they need to secure a resource or special ed aid to go with the girl on the field trip and this teacher needs to learn that her attitude could get her… Read more »

Sharon L.
12/01/2012 11:40 am

Johnson, It sounds like the teachers do not want your son in their class. Did you ask if there were any positives things he had done? I wanted my son in all regular ed classes also. He did not fit in the resource room and the old LD classrooms are now gone that worked so well in the past. We came up with a compromise of having him work with a tutor for English and writing. This way he could be in all regular ed classes for the other courses with modifications and accommodations. The… Read more »

Sharon L.
12/01/2012 11:32 am

Angelica, Have your son re-evaluated. Sign the school’s request form and they will need to reconvene in 60 days. Request a DRAFT copy of the evaluation before you meet so you can discuss with your physician, psychologist or neurologist or advocate before you go. See if you can get a professional to go with you. This will go far as to getting what you need for your child. Be prepared to pay for the professional and I guarantee it is less money than an attorney and due process.

11/30/2012 2:52 am

I have a son who had an iep a year ago and the team decided to dismiss him because he qualified under the umbrella of speech therapy services. The reason I believe he got dismissed was because he met all of his goals. The background on this was that I as a parent to my son was also assistant to Speech Language Therapist which resulted in bad terms and she got her aide taken away. A few months later my son got dismissed and speech therapist stated that he had fully graduated from speech and it was time to… Read more »

11/29/2012 12:38 am

I have a child who has been diagonsed with an auditory processing disorder. He has an IEP. He is in the seventh grade. I wanted my child to be placed in all general education classes because I was not satisfied with the special education program. Case manager informed his general education teachers’ only about my son’s weaknesses leaving out his strengths. So, when my son and I attended a parent conference, the only comments I heard from most of his teachers’ were very negative. I was so upset about the negative comments from my son’s teachers’. Just recently I scheduled… Read more »

Melissa R
09/13/2012 11:01 pm

I am a mom of 2 autys. What I was told was that the “squeaky wheel gets the grease.” The more you talk to your school and advocate, the more they will do. If they know you check on them, they are more apt to work with you. Also, I have seen the opposite and the school BANNED the parents for expressing concerns. My sons IEPs are not exactly perfect, but this is a learning process for all of us. We have a mtg every month and discuss the pros and cons of ALL… Read more »

09/10/2012 11:07 pm

I am a special education teacher that has been assigned to teach 1 general education class and I requested my caseload of 28 reduced to reflect my 80% special education position. The district told me that they did not have to reduce my caseload. Is this correct? 80% special education resource teacher/20% general eduction?

09/10/2012 1:50 pm

The Withers case involved a State Senator which made it all the more embarrassing.

09/09/2012 12:21 am

My son (who has an IEP) has not been serviced since the beginning of school. The school doesn’t have any resource teachers to provide the services. I know this because I am a teacher at the school and none of the students on our campus has services. We are half way through the first 9 weeks. The rumor is that the minutes will be made up one way or the other even if it by summer school. How can a school district do this? There are several schools in the district that are in… Read more »

Special Ed Teacher
09/05/2012 1:42 am

@concerned parent: I’m not an expert, but you have a right to request an IEP meeting ( I always have a 30 day review in my child’s IEP). A gen ed and spec ed must be present. Make certain baseline data is taken to assess present levels in reading writing, & math. Have SMART goals that are measurable. Teacher must see IEP for students. Get amount of time with aide/teacher established at IEP meeting and added to IEP. If it isn’t written down, you have no record. Extablish a written communication system with teacher that documents amount of… Read more »

concerned parent
09/02/2012 2:31 am

How do I handle this situation? I received a phone call from a teacher who claims she was not allowed to see my child’s IEP, and also feels that my child was not given what was promised in her IEP. I believe she called me so as not to draw attention to herself, however, my child showed signs of regression last year. This coincides with the lack of education in the classroom.

The teacher was supposed to have more time with her in a partial inclusive atmosphere, however, she does not feel my child was given that. She told me… Read more »

08/31/2012 6:21 pm

Speaking up has cost me more jobs than I can count. There is no protection for teachers who stand up for kids..