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Does the District Need to Make-Up Therapy Sessions?

05/16/11
by Sharon Lutz

Since we signed my daughter’s IEP, she has missed 6 sessions of weekly OT. The therapist was absent for two of the sessions.  She missed four sessions on ‘Delayed Start Days.’ Our district starts school 2 hours late on one day each month. Does the district need to make up these days?

The school needs to make up any missed time on items required in your daughter’s IEP and/or provide a qualified substitute.

A regular ed student gets a substitute when the regular teacher is out for some reason. This absence could be for just a day or two or for an extended period of time. Why would the special ed student any different?  They deserve the same requirement as the regular ed student.

Specific therapy services (like OT, PT, or speech-language) often present a problem.  It is sometimes difficult to find a qualified substitute or replacement staff.

Caution! Interrupting or failing to make-up missed services could constitute a denial of FAPE.

Compensatory Time for Missed Services

I understand your situation. Our son, who is dyslexic and on an IEP, had (3) 40-minute sessions per week for speech therapy. When the school speech therapist was out for months due to health reasons, the school tried to hire another speech therapist. None were available. After three long months, the school hired an excellent speech therapist. My son started progressing again.

The school owed my son (and all other students who required speech therapy) compensatory time.

They agreed to compensate us for the time, even if it meant using the summer months.

Compensatory Services Must Meet Your Child’s Needs

In our case, when the original speech therapist returned to school, she attempted to make up missed time by adding minutes to the end of each weekly session. This did not meet my son’s needs.

1.    There was no value to the compensation of time. My son’s attention span was only so long.  Extra minutes in each session were not doing any good. My son needed the time made up in “ extra sessions” not in “minutes added to sessions.”

2.    Added minutes of make-up time did not equal actual time lost.

Parents should also be concerned about therapy time being used for testing. During the course of a school year, therapists test students to provide information for the IEP meeting. I consulted with our state Legal Services. This practice is not acceptable unless a parent agrees to use therapy time for testing.

Tip: While progress monitoring is important, have a discussion with your therapist about when and how often your child is tested to ensure she is not losing valuable time for therapy time as “testing time.”

I also consulted with an independent professional speech therapist and paid for her time to attend our IEP meeting. She explained to the IEP team why “testing time” and “adding extra minutes” were not compensatory time.

The school agreed to complete any required sessions in the summer as part of Extended School Year (ESY). We thought this was a good solution.

Services Designated in the IEP

In Ohio, my son’s school also had a delayed start. None of the regular education students lost any of their normal school class time. Your daughter should not lose her time either.

The school needs to follow the IEP. The school should follow the designated time stated in the IEP or make it up.

Check to see if anyone else is losing class time due to “delayed start” scheduling. This sounds more like a civil rights issue of discrimination towards special ed students versus a regular ed student.  Point that out to your school administrators and see what happens.

My guess is that they will want to work with you rather than to take a chance on a civil rights issue.

You may be interested in reading these articles.

A question from Virginia: Is It Legal to Send Kids with Disabilities Home Early?

OCR and Discrimination: Dismissal Times for Special Ed Students

______________________________________________

Sharon Lutz (Sharon L.) of Ohio is a parent of 3 sons with learning disabilities (ADHD and Dyslexia). Sharon is an advocate for her sons and has 25 years of experience working with school districts and the IEP process.  She is a member of the Learning Disability Association.

Sharon is happy to share her information with parents so that others can benefit from her experiences in advocating for her children.

She started a parent advocate group that was successful in sharing ideas and strategies as well and providing information to parents and the community.

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18 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Karen 10/29/14 at 6:21 pm

    Sharon: My daughter attends Catholic school in Illinois. She needs speech help, but may not be getting it because the school district is telling me they only have a certain amount of funds for private school kids. I live and pay taxes in the public school district where she would get services. How can they not give her help when I pay taxes in the district?

  • 2 Diana J 12/05/13 at 3:02 am

    We finally have a signed off IEP after a two month battle. One of the services on the IEP is 30 minutes of speech therapy per week . My daughter still has not received this service to date. The special ed person went on vacation and no one replaced her. The school only has one special ed staff member. Last year I filed a OCR complaint for lack of services and we had a hearing and wrote a agreement. I thought the school would not make the same mistake , but here we are again. I had a meeting with both the school and district stating my concerns and informing them I will not hesitate to file another complaint. How do I get both parties to start taking my daughter’s services seriously? Do I need to file another complaint and seek out lawyer? And where do I find a lawyer in Colorado Springs ?
    Thank you for any help.

  • 3 Sharon L. 05/24/13 at 10:45 am

    Jenn, It is difficult for me to comment due to not knowing exactly how the speech service is writtin. My son had speech & it was written very specifically as to how many minutes per day & how many days per week. THis way if the school was to make a change they would have to discuss it in an IEP meeting otherwise they would not be doing what the IEP states & it is a legal document. The school cannot legally say they are changign services due to administrative issues. You will probably need to get an IEP meeting together to discuss this as it will affect your son’s progress.

  • 4 Jenn 05/23/13 at 12:35 pm

    Hi,
    My son’s twice a week individual speech therapy was reduced to once a week for 15 minutes due to staffing issues without notification to the parents. Due to the range of minutes of therapy on his IEP they were within legal parameters. My first question is, does there have to be a low and high end of therapy minutes on an IEP? Also, going forward can I ammend the IEP to add that therapy will not be reduced due to administrative issues?
    Thanks

  • 5 Sharon L. 04/14/13 at 3:52 pm

    Heather,I was told by an attorney that when the speech teacher is not available the time must be made up. AFter all the regular ed students get substitutes when a teacher is out, don’t they? I was also told that testing time is not therapy time.

  • 6 Heather 04/11/13 at 3:28 pm

    Hi Sharon.

    My son missed his speech lesson last week because the speech teacher was pulled to help kids with state mandated standardized testing (my son was not tested that day). The school says they don’t need to make it up. Is this true? Thank you!

  • 7 Jim 04/12/12 at 4:48 pm

    Sherrie:

    “Question C-2: Are there any particular kinds of services or specified amounts of services that must be provided to parentally placed private school children with disabilities under Part B of the Act?”

    Answer: No. Children with disabilities enrolled in private schools by their parents have no individual entitlement to receive some or all of the special education and related services they would receive if enrolled in a public school other than child find, including evaluations. Under the Act, LEAs have the obligation to provide the group of parentally placed private school children with disabilities with equitable participation in the services funded with federal IDEA funds.

    http://www.wrightslaw.com/idea/osep/faqs.parent.placemts.pdf

    Sorry.

  • 8 Morning 03/27/12 at 8:59 pm

    Deb,

    Depending on the age of your child, I would focus on the remediation. It is great that he is getting the 1-1 remediation. Is he participating in his class specials such as art, gym, music, etc.? My child was pulled out of some of the specials for remediation. For some kids, it is not a good model as the specials give them the time to socialize and show their strengths in other areas. As my child became older, the pull outs became problematic as he wanted to be more included in such activities. We moved out of town, and the new school district’s model incorporates best practices which allow for the child to be included and not pulled from such activities. Children need to have a balance of activities in school as school can become too intense for the dyslexic child.

  • 9 Sherrie 03/27/12 at 3:47 pm

    My nine year old daughter became profoundly deaf in both ears at the age of four, and recieved a cochlear implant on her right ear. Because she developed her speech and language prior to her hearing loss, she had an advantage than most hearing impaired children working with a hearing device. The implant was successful, with continued speech therapy following her surgery.

    She attends a catholic private school, placed by her parents. After three years of receiving special ed services from our local school district, the district decided to cease all services she was receiving. This decision was not made by her IEP team nor the experts involved in her case. Speech services were recommended to continue. A decision was made from the special ed director alone. Can this happen? What happens to the services she missed?

  • 10 Deb 03/22/12 at 1:29 pm

    My son is dyslexic and gets 1:1 reading instruction 5x per week. It has come to my attention that at times, he does not get to partake in his class activities (school play, party, etc). We value his reading instruction yet want him to participate – just like his peers. Any ideas, comments or thoughts on this? I will be meeting with the school next week but would like to get some input. Thank you.

  • 11 Sharon L. 03/21/12 at 10:32 pm

    Stephanie – The same thing happened to my son. The speech teacher was pregnant & had to remain in bed. The school was trying to get a new teacher but took over 6 months. By law all of that time must be made up. Be careful not to let them make it up by adding a few minutes every day. The time needs to be made up as it was intended (ie 30 minutes per day/ etc) because that is the best way your child learns. The school ended up making it up over the summer. Remember testing time is NOT therapy time. An attorney told me that. IEP meetings for others during your child’s time must be made up no exceptions. As far a year going by if you can prove the child did not meet the goals try to get the services made up. The longer you wait the harder it will be to get.

  • 12 Sharon L. 03/21/12 at 10:28 pm

    Patrice – When my son received a suspension he could not make up anything. I think this is up to the discretion of the school. If the suspension lasts longer than 10 days & your child is on an IEP than services can be made up. I am not sure if it is a law or not but I was told that for up to 10 day suspension the school can do what they want.

  • 13 Stephanie 03/20/12 at 9:39 pm

    My son missed about 6 weeks of speech therapy when his teacher quit and the school was trying to replace her. The school kept blowing me off, saying they were providing him with speech in his inclusive setting, which I don’t think happened. The missed speech therapy was over a year ago, and it still bugs me today. We are in the same school district. Can I fight for that lost time, although it happened more than a year ago? Since that time, he has missed sessions because the speech teacher had to attend IEP meetings. He is in preschool. Do the same rules apply?

  • 14 Patrice 03/20/12 at 8:07 am

    My son was on a three day suspension. He requires services to learn coping skills and a behavioral plan. Can he make up these services?

  • 15 Sharon L. 05/27/11 at 5:49 pm

    PaisleyPark, yes they do. If you do not want your daughter to make up the sessions, but you are concerned that she didn’t get them, I don’t know what an alternative would be. The school should not extend her therapy time by minutes but should make up full sessions in the regular alloted amount of time. They can agree to provide the time over the summer as well.
    Our son ended up in that situation and it worked out ok. He needed the therapy time and was not “maxed out” as you say. They made up sessions instead of adding a few minutes to the end of a session – that was a better solution.

  • 16 Jeff 05/27/11 at 3:30 am

    We had a similar experience when our school therapist transferred away and there was a vacancy for several weeks. When the new therapist arrived it took her several weeks to ramp up and by the time we got back on track we missed 30 sessions. The district tried to cram them in before the end of the school year. We had to make the remainder up the next school year. They wanted us to sign off on not completing the makeup sessions but we really needed the time. Hold firm on the sessions.

  • 17 PaisleyPark 05/20/11 at 2:58 pm

    My child’s sped teacher is being pulled to administer standardized testing, and my child is missing a great deal of service delivery time. I estimate approximately 18 hours over a 3 week period. There has been no mention of making up the time, and actually I don’t feel that make-up is appropriate since she is already almost maxed out as it is. What can I do?

  • 18 Blondie 05/18/11 at 1:14 pm

    I wanted to give you an update. We found out that the district is not providing weekly (4X a month) OT. They are providing three 30 min sessions (3X a month), so the delayed start day was already anticipated by the district. They agreed to make up the two sessions the OT missed due to absence.
    Now we are working on trying to get them to give compensatory services for OT that was not provided under the old IEP. We found out in February that our daughter got no therapy for 3 months at the start of this school year. We asked for compensatory services, and we got Prior Written Noice that stated she received therapy because they were doing testing. They never discussed that the testing would be in lieu of OT therapy.
    I will check with OLRS about this. Thanks for your advice!