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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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71 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.


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.


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.


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?


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?


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 the other students. He was evaluated and he has Cognitive ( memory problems). He has an IEP that most of his teachers donot attend. Nor do they want to follow it. They retaliate against him for coming home telling me what they say or do to him. I went all the way to the last superintendent and nothing has been done. What can we do?


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

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 aware because they did not renew her contract nor hire anyone else. I have written this In my observation notes and I do not know what to do. His IEP meeting is coming up, I will NOT lie for them. What can I do to resolve this issue. I feel powerless. I want what’s fair and LEGAL to be upheld.


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


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.


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.


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.


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 writing goal to focus on his written expression. After that I didn’t hear from her until I requested a copy of his IEP and 4th quarter update. Until this point I haven’t received a quarterly update from his 5th grade teacher. Who in the state of PA can I call to file a complaint.


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


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.


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.


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 as field trips with her non disabled peers. What, if anything, can be done to help this student? I had no idea teachers could decide who they would or would not teach!

Sharon L.

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 team agreed and the teachers were obligated to follow. There was an aide in the classroom and the intervention specialist/case manager kept up with what he was doing.

Sharon L.

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.


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 dismiss him. As a parent and part of the IEP team I did not agree to the IEP. The next school year my son did not get seen anymore for speech services or resources for special education. I believe the school was out of compliance . Now I am not sure what would be the next step to do. I am very upset and disappointed in school district


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 an appointment with my son’s school counselor and she was not helpful. Now, the school’s principal wants to meet with me. I am also an employee at this school my son attends. I am very upset in the way the school is handing this case.
I asked for my son’s IEP case manager to be changed. What do you think i should do?

Melissa R

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 aspects of their daily care. I understand IEPs are yearly, but most schools will work well with you. If you can’t find a happy medium, then go up the chain of command. Start with a calm attitude and work diligent. You know your kids better than they do and if they are not doing what they need to, call them out on it!! GOOD LUCK 😀


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?


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


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 the same position. Is there anything.


Frustrated mother/teacher

Special Ed Teacher

@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 time with aide. Sounds like teacher is on your side & willing to help. Get data taken during year to assess progress made from the beginning of the year scores in rdg, math, & writing. (Ex: I get IRI in reading; rubrics for writing) Our school still does not follow IEP- but this is what should be done.

concerned parent

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 she brought this to the attention of the principal, however was told my child required 1 on 1 supervision with her aide. On one hand, I feel I need to address this. On the other hand, if I do, this will cause more problems than before.


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


The CA teachers union has some advice for teachers who know that IEPs are being violated.

Anyone who advocates for people with disabilities is protected from retaliation under Sec. 504 of the Rehab. Act of 1973 and under Sec. II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. See also Susan Lee Barker v. Riverside County Office of Education at

I shared this with our local teachers’ union, the superintendent of schools, the school board, and the supervisor of special ed., noting that it is more cost-effective to follow the law than break it. Courage is contagious, so please share this with your local teachers, too.


My autistic son was bullied in school. I reported it, nothing was done, then a second time I was given lip service. The third time I threatened a lawsuit based on non compliance with his IEP by the School Principal. The bully was suspended and the Principal lost her job. There was no anti bullying law in Michigan at that time.


Our school district tells the teachers what they can and can’t do. Doesn’t matter about the IEP. Teachers are let go for being advocates for our children. My son had a different teacher each year even though he was in the same Life Skills classroom. Had to go through Due Process which was not only costly but emotionally draining while I kept my son home for 6 months. We won our due process and he is in a new school but that was only for two years. This year the district will re-evaluate him and then we will be in the same boat telling me that they have an appropriate placement for my son. I don’t understand why we as parents have to work so hard at having our child’s IEP carried out in the way it is written, without the district changing it and not telling you.


my daughter is a special ed student who cannot read or understand her math. one of her teachers is always picking on her what can i do about this


I have a Question about the Legal Requirements related to staffing shortages. In my district we have numerous IEPs that are not being followed because we “can’t” find OT’s, Ts, SLPs to provide the services. I think they just don’t want to pay what it would require to fill these open positions (in fact several local people have applied for the jobs, but are not willing to accept once aware of compensation offered-they’ve offered to work on contract but the district refuses). SO, my question – what is the district’s obligation when it comes to staffing these open positions? What do I need to do to CYA since I know these IEPs aren’t being met?


I am special ed. teacher and two teachers would not follow the IEP. Parents filed numerous complaints. I advocated for the parents and students, and I am now suspended; I would not lie for one of the teachers. One of the students tried to kill himself and a lot had to do with this situation. The parents brought in advocates filed complaints with the state dept. I will eventually lose my job over this. Please be careful.


Our VI granddaughter is in Second grade in a regular classroom with a 1 on 1 personal aide. Her iep states she will have a TVI teach her Braille 4 times a week for 1 hour each day. The problem is the TVI teacher takes so many days off and shows up late that my Granddaughter is only receiving maybe Two hours a week. I have asked for a substitute from the N J CoB but they say no. My granddaughter is falling behind in Braille. I think they are out of compliance . Any suggestions?


I was hired as a self-contained teacher by a public school in August, 2011, for a education program that doesn’t yet exist. My student’s IEPs contain outdated information, are missing key transition components, and, I’ve just learned, have been created with a non-compliant program. My students are not receiving fine-arts (not due to any physical or behavioral limitations) and many are not receiving an education in the “least-restrictive environment,” denying them the opportunity for crucial social skills, as mandated in their IEPs. The case manager is now unwilling to consult with me, let alone modify their IEPs, for fear of her department being outsourced. I am concerned not only for my credentials, but for my students’ experiences, as well.


In 6th grade my son got into a few fights and got suspended from kids bullying him. We had mediation and it was found the fighting was due to his disability. In my frustration with the school I had IEP meeting and demanded they let me move my child to alternative school for help with emotional issues. they did not agree with the decision but let me do it. Big mistake! So this year when I asked for him to come back, the vice principal said he didn’t want him back because he was too violent. Can he legally do that if my son has a disability and the fighting was found to be caused by that disability? Plus I had been to the school numerous times before complaining about the bullying and plenty of times since then too.


Music Teacher with not aides for students with IEPs-post dated 3/3/10

This is a common occurrence in some schools, especially larger districts. As a former para-educator, I have been caught between a music teacher and a case manager with the expectations that I modify the work–that is how crazy it can get because both teachers were overwhelmed. I went to the case manager and said, I need work for this studets. Guess what–it was nothing but worksheets and busy work because the case manager felt it was the teacher’s responsibility. I am sorry to say that they felt that your was the one class that they could just put the students in and give the aide a lunch break or use in another class. You can be creative and make this happen. It can won’t be perfect but it can work. Research and make it happen to protect yourself.