The Wrightslaw Way

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


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.


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 I went through the whole process of school and to be known as a non graduate is very painful!!!!


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 grade class and when she got to her new school, started in reg class w resource and so on and finally Iep team decided ‘ hey this child needs to be in a self contained class, which she is now and I’m pleased with her progress, I’m just still upset that she lost a year of her precious life.


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.


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


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 and accurately compute without a calculator (even when they can).

This is my first year in this county, but I have always had student scores that exceeded expectations in years past. For reasons stated above, I was told that teachers can be dismissed for non-passing state scores. I am at a loss; I am being told to break the law and teach to the test.


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 the lack of academic progress he has made. Any advice on my next course of action will be great. I’m contacting the district, state, an attorney and anyone else I need to have this situation brought to the light and to ensure it doesn’t continue to happen to kids.