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It Isn’t OK Just to Teach the Easy Kids

by Sue Whitney

With no warning, the school changed my son from Spanish to Computers because the Spanish teacher decided he didn’t want to deal with Josh. He didn’t like his attitude. Josh has an IEP, E.D. He has ODD and anxiety.

I was never notified of a problem. Josh knew nothing about this change either. He was devastated.

The principal said that there would be a meeting the next day to change Josh’s schedule because he was “no longer allowed” in his Spanish class. At the meeting, the special ed staff said that this was legal, that “the teacher has a contract and he is not required to teach a student who exhibits behavior of not wanting to learn.”

What can I do to prevent this from happening again?

Your son is either misbehaving and the school should follow the rules for kids who misbehave, or he is behaving like a kid with anxiety and ODD, so the school staff need to deal with this as an educational issue.

It is okay for the school to:

  • provide a teacher who is able to teach your son.
  • expect all teachers to follow the steps in school policies for disciplining students.
  • get teachers more training in classroom management and discipline when they need it.

It is not okay:

  • just to teach the easy kids.
  • for a teacher to take his personal issues into the classroom.

You attended a meeting where the rest of the IEP team told you that unilaterally moving your child out of Spanish and into computers was “totally legal.” It doesn’t look like that to me and it doesn’t look like that to you, but we are not attorneys. If Josh plans to go to college, he probably needs that foreign language.

The longer Josh is out of Spanish, the harder it will be to get him in and up to speed.

Make sure your son sees his outside therapist as often as recommended.

Speak to an attorney early on to get the correct letters written or perhaps file a civil rights complaint, depending on the attorney’s advice. You want to get the correct process in place right from the start.

I don’t suggest going into a school meeting with a 500 pound shouting attorney. I do suggest that you get an attorney involved now, when you need legal advice. But if you plan to consult with an attorney, do this before you make decisions and take action, rather than after the fact.

What may be a solution is to take the transfer to computers now, and let the attorney work on getting compensatory education, or another teacher, in another year, for Spanish. The Spanish teacher does not seem emotionally stable. I would be careful about fighting for the right to spend a year with this Spanish teacher as the prize.

Today – Read the IEP, the handbook, and the articles about behavior problems.

Tomorrow – Call an attorney who has expertise in special education issues.

Read all of Josh’s story at Behavior Problems: It Isn’t OK Just to Teach the Easy Kids at

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15 Comments on "It Isn’t OK Just to Teach the Easy Kids"

Steve G.

As teachers, it is not okay to just teach the easy kids. That’s like being able to make your own class rosters. Schools just can’t be operated in that fashion. It is our job to teach all who are assigned to us. The good with the not so good. Challenging situations are what we are trained for. Sounds like a situation where someone should have requested help with the situation, not just transfer the student out of your class.


My thoughts are the Spanish teacher is not the appropriate person to deal with Josh. I would have Josh stay in the computer course and hopefully complete a very valuable class. I would hire the appropriate attorney and request a meeting with school officials and those involved in Josh’s IEP to make sure the school completely understands their legal obligation to Josh. I would get recommendations from school staff and/or counselors to who a better Spanish teacher would be for Josh in the future. If this is not an option I would provide the Spanish teacher with a copy of Josh’s IEP and information on ODD and anxiety so hopefully the teacher will be better informed of his conditions and can deal with it appropriately. I would stay in contact with the teacher regularly so issues could be discussed and dealt with in a timely manner.


Too many times teachers are overwhelmed and want to take the easy way out. The school district should have an instructional strategist to help this teacher under the child’s needs. Often times, general ed. teachers, are not trained on how to deal with special need students. Administration should have supported the teacher on how to handle a student with ODD, rather than let the teacher pass the student off to another class. There also should have been a meeting with the parents regarding any behavior issues. Who knows, had the teacher stuck with the student and showed he cared, he may have been surprised by the progress made.


I agree that the student should stay in the computer course as well and allowing the attorney and parent to work with the school. I say this as my child’s case manager and I have had to steer her away from those teachers who do not want to accommodate special Ed. students,. I am talking about the upper grades which is a whole different ball game. While 99% of the teachers are great…and I praise and respect them, one teacher can have enought power and resistance to not accommodate fully. There are strategic ways to work with such a teacher such as truly understanding his/her point of view and offering support. But, do not allow your child to stay in a classroom with a teacher who is not willing or equipped to teach our kids. Find some creative solutions with the staff. Our kids know when they are not wanted in a classroom.


I too feel it would be a good time to call an emergency IEP meeting. I like the idea of having the young person staying in the computer class to gain valuable computer skills and waiting to enroll him in a Spanish class at a later date.