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Does Your Child’s Teacher See the IEP?

01/13/11
by Pat Howey

You’ve just returned from your child’s IEP Meeting. You gave the team your Parent Report or Parent Agenda. You and the Team agreed on an IEP for your child. Whew! That was a lot of work and you are tired! You deserve a rest.

Your work is finished, right? Unfortunately, the answer to that question is, “No!”

Do you know that your child’s teacher may never see the IEP into which you and the other team members put so much time and effort?Sometimes, school administrators decide not everyone needs to see the full IEP, including your child’s teacher! Substitute teachers, paraprofessionals, and other school staff almost never get to see the full IEP. Your child’s special education teacher may reduce the IEP into a one-page summary. This is what your child’s teachers and other school staff get.

IEP Summaries

The summary may only include the modifications, adaptations, and accommodations for your child. It may include a health care plan. It may not include goals or benchmarks. It almost never gives information about your child’s present levels of academic and functional performance.

Your school administrator may think your child’s teacher will not read a longer document. This may be true. Sometimes, middle and high school level general education teachers think the teacher of record does all of the “special ed stuff.”

This means it is even more important for you to provide them with information about your child. If the staff at your child’s school does not understand why the IEP Team decided what it did about your child, they cannot possibly understand the value of the IEP.

IEP Confidentiality

Your school administrators may incorrectly believe the IEP is “confidential.” If so, the administrator thinks s/he cannot release it to teachers and other staff members. This is not true. If it were true, a nurse who takes your blood pressure would not be able to give that information to your doctor, because that information is confidential, too!

Schools can release confidential information about your child to anyone at school who has a genuine need for that information. Certainly teachers, substitute teachers, and many other school staff members need information about your child. It is the only way we can expect them to understand your child’s unique needs!

IEP Copies

You must make sure your child’s teacher has a full copy of the IEP. One way you can do this is to ask for a short meeting with each of your child’s teachers. When you go to the meeting, take a copy of the IEP and give it to your child’s teacher. Print your telephone number on the IEP and tell the teacher to call you anytime with questions.

Tip: If a teacher does not know your child, give a picture of your child to the teacher. This way, the teacher is able to put a face to the information you are providing.

If you took a Parent Report or a Parent Agenda to the IEP Meeting, give a copy of this to the teacher, too. If the teacher did not attend the meeting, he will have the same information, as did those who were there.

If you properly prepare for IEP Meetings by taking a Parent Report or Parent Agenda and you give your Report and a full copy of the IEP to each teacher, you may be surprised to find that:

  • Your child’s teachers understand your child much better.
  • Your child’s teacher is grateful for the extra information they have.

She may even tell you that that the information in your Parent Report or Parent Agenda makes more sense than the information they receive in the administrator’s one-page summary!

Yes, this is a lot of work. But, nobody ever said that having kids would be easy.

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14 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Kristine 05/11/14 at 9:10 pm

    This recently came up at a workshop I was at where someone said educators are not legally required to receive IEPs.
    Isn’t it breaking the law to NOT observe the IEP and therefore you’d need to receive and read it (even if condensed) to do be able to do so? This is what I have been told in my school system. If I am teaching a student and I do not provide the accommodations, we are vulnerable to being sued for violating an IEP. My school system requires us to read and sign a document saying we both received and read these documents (I’m a specialist, and I have 60+ to read through each year). Is this indeed how the law works? If so, aren’t all teachers that work directly with a student required to read the IEP, or does the law only require a special ed teacher to receive it? Thanks for the clarification.

  • 2 Sanghi 08/27/13 at 6:34 pm

    It is not that easy when the child goes to middle school where they have all different teachers per subjects and IEP goals were written to be implemented in regular education classes as well. Once I gave out side evaluations and IEP goals to my son’s English teacher to understand what our son’s needs are. Next thing I know I got a call from LEA, commended me to explain to him what my intention was to do so. I had to asked the principal to come to the meeting. Ever since I just can not make things move forward with this LEA and he blocks every each step and make me go marygoaround. Be involve special education to me seems a curse. I wish I can hire you, Mr. Peter Wright, but it will be only dream.

  • 3 Laura 08/07/13 at 11:12 pm

    JackieK- I have also attended training and professional development session when we have been presented with a child’s IEP to use as an example however, in our trainings they always blacked out the child’s name and other personal information to protect the identity of the child. I think it is wrong to view the IEP of a child whom you will not be working with or need information. If your district used the IEP as an example they should have blacked out the child’s name so you weren’t able to see who it was written for. I agree with you and feel like the parents and the child’s rights were violated by the school district

  • 4 Morning 04/29/12 at 7:31 am

    It is more important that the teachers follow my child’s program and collaborate with the case manager. I think that they should get a copy of the IEP–if they do not–that is fine. In larger school districts, I have seen a few, not all teachers, put the IEPs aside and put out fires with the students instead of following the IEP. Are my child program’s being implemented with fidelity and progressed monitored? That is my emphasis. Does the teacher or aide utilize the AT with my child learns the AT instead of it sitting around in a corner. Hopefully, the case manager is working closely with each teacher, including art, gym, etc. as I have seen these teachers excluded from the team and knowing the child’s information. I do educate each teacher, but I do not give them the IEPs. I meet with them and educate them.

  • 5 Cathy 04/25/12 at 4:09 pm

    You can make sure they have a copy but you cant make them read it and compliance with the plan is almosat impossible because they say they are but in my experience mostly they dont

  • 6 Kimberly 04/25/12 at 12:28 pm

    Helpful

  • 7 JackieK 01/28/11 at 1:28 am

    I agree that is important for a child’s teachers and/or service providers to see the actual folder, but what about other random teachers in the school system?

    I was recently at a training at school (X Elementary) in my district and one of the EC compliance officers gave me a student’s IEP record from that school (X Elementary), despite the fact that I work at Z High School). I was told it was okay and I could just look through it to use as an example for the training.

    As it turned out, I know the parents of that student (though I don’t teach at that school, have no contact with that child). I feel like FERPA was probably violated and feel like I should tell the parents (who are also acquaintances). Any suggestions? I feel like this is a district-wide problem.

  • 8 Sharon L. 01/24/11 at 11:22 am

    Mike B – We found out who our child’s teachers were and gave them all a copy of the latest IEP. They were all so grateful because they never automatically got a copy. Yes the school is supposed to do this but sometimes you have to pick your battles and this was one that we believed was not one we would fight over since everytime we would mention it it never got changed.

  • 9 Mike B 01/23/11 at 12:50 pm

    One way we alleviate this unfortunate reality is by ensuring that every staff member who will be a part of our autistic son’s education is present at the IEP (or in the multiple IEPs that we seem to be involved in most times, lol). We do our homework in the beginning to ensure that the school district invites key individuals such as the teacher, para’s, etc, and if the district doesn’t invite them, we do. Also, it is important to note procedurally, that in some cases the teacher HAS to be there if they are going to be a part of the child’s direct education or the parents can file a grievance or even go to due process on a procedural violation of IDEA. To advocate means you have to be “actively proactive” with your schools staff to educate and inform them on all matters realting to his education as defined in the IEP.

  • 10 HOPELights 01/21/11 at 4:08 pm

    I think it is important for everyone to always be on the same page when it comes to the IEP.

    Here is a great YouTube video on the subject:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYeMBtmA5oc

  • 11 Wrightslaw 01/17/11 at 4:45 pm

    Jackie: Info about Parent Agenda is here: http://www.wrightslaw.com/nltr/09/nl.0331.htm. More about parent input:
    http://www.wrightslaw.com/blog/?p=1110
    http://www.wrightslaw.com/blog/?p=1286

    Review the information in the law and regs about “Age of majority.” 20 U.S.C. 1415(m) and 300.320(c). Chapter 9: Transition – All About IEPs; Age of Majority – includes what the law requires the school to do about notifying the child and the parent when rights transfer. The law requires notification a year prior to the transfer of rights so you can plan accordingly. You may want to consult with an attorney, licensed in your state, about the best way to proceed.

  • 12 Sharon L. 01/17/11 at 3:45 pm

    Jackie, When my son turned 18 he signed over a power of attorney stating that we as parents can participate in his IEP on his behalf. The law allows for that now. We put it together and got it notorized. This helped a lot when our son could not attend the entire IEP meeting because our meetings often went over 1 hour. You are right not to sign the IEP until you are satisified and the school should not make you wait one month to get together to go over it again. The law also allows for IEP meetings to be done over the phone or other conference device. Perhaps this will help as well.

  • 13 Jackie 01/14/11 at 5:23 pm

    Could you please direct me where to find the formula for the Parent Report or Parent Agenda. When I have prepared one, the school will not use any of the stuff I prepare indicating that they can put my concerns in the discussion page and that’s it. Is there any legal authority that will require the school to include my Parent report or agenda? I’m also dealing with my son’s high school, as my son has turned 18, they say that everything has to come from him, even if I am his advocate. At the last IEP everything was pre-written and prepared. My son does not seat still for more than 45 minutes. I asked them not to close the IEP as we would take it home to review it. They closed the IEP. Upon review there were many things that needed correction. They want us to sign the IEP as it stand and ask for another one which will take another 30 days.

  • 14 SusanB 01/13/11 at 7:17 pm

    Teachers always seem to appreciate a parent doing this! I always do it on “back to school” night! Then I send a polite thank you note to the teacher saying that I am looking forward to working with her and that I hoped the copy of the IEP I gave her will help her and take one thing off her plate because I know how difficult her job is! It goes a long way in creating that collaborative relationship!