Must Services in the IEP be Provided by a Special Ed Teacher?

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Can the school write in the IEP that the child will receive reading instruction/tutoring by a reading specialist who is not a special ed teacher?

Yes. The IDEA and federal special ed regs do not require that the services listed in the IEP must be provided by a special ed teacher. (Vote in the poll at the end of this article)

Here’s the background to the question:

My 10 year old with Downs Syndrome has made no reading progress over the last 4-5 years. A reading specialist recommended a new reading program, the school agreed. To help her catch up, we also asked for additional intensive services by this reading specialist, who would know how to implement and monitor the new program.

The school told us “she cannot have it written in the IEP for services of the reading specialist since the specialist is not a special ed teacher.”

Must the school exclude a service from the IEP, if the child will be taught/tutored by a reading specialist who is not a special ed teacher? Is that true?

No. This is not true. The IDEA and federal special ed regs do not require that the services listed in the IEP must be provided by a special ed teacher.

Most children with disabilities receive much or all of their education in regular ed classes, and are taught by regular ed teachers. The IDEA requires that the child’s IEP team include at least one regular ed teacher because . . .

The regular ed teacher knows the curriculum and what students are supposed to learn and do. With input from the regular ed teacher, the team can determine what accommodations, supplementary aids and services, and modifications the child needs to learn and make progress. (Wrightslaw: All about IEPs, page 11)

The IEP must include all special education services, related services, and supplementary aids and services the child needs, and the school will provide. (Wrightslaw: All About IEPs, page 37)

If team proposes a service but resists writing it into the IEP, you might assume they don’t really plan to provide it.

If the parent has to request mediation or a due process hearing because the promised service was not provided, the parent will not prevail because the IEP does not include it.

Politely ask for a clarification and copy of the written policy (either federal, state, or local school district) that indicates a special ed teacher is required to provide services in the IEP. If you do not get a response, write a follow-up letter with a request for the policy.

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64 Comments on "Must Services in the IEP be Provided by a Special Ed Teacher?"

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Can a reading specialist provide special education pull out minutes? Or does the IEP need to specifically state who will be providing the services?

Can a Paraprofessional provide the Initial minutes of SDI or only provide supplemental instruction?

My child was given a 504 plan today but we wanted her to have an IEP. School says she doesn’t qualify because until last year she has always made good grades. She was evaluated by psychologist we took her to and another one court ordered and was found to have severe anxiety disorder. This prevents my child from asking her teacher anything at all even if she needs help understanding the work. It also created a wall for her to such degree as she would physically be sick and hives at thought of going. I feel she should have some individualized instruction she was failed last year because she couldn’t catch up. That alone has been a back step in social and academic learning . Please help

Your state parent training & information center will be familiar with the federal and state rules, and can assist you.

Arizona is changing a law about who can provide Specialized Instruction. Now saying any “Certified ” person can.

In my school district, additional supportive services in the IEP can be provided by a paraprofessional. This is great for my child with executive functioning issues who just needs an adult to help with initiation, planning and organization. The paraprofessional also provides services such as reading the test to the children with reading disorders. So I would say,no, the services don’t always need to be provided by a SPED teacher.

Is there a law or regulation that defines what special ed “staff” is? Who can provide services to my child. If a person makes copies for the special ed department then they could technically be sped staff .

The state or school district would be the one who might define this term. In most districts the person you describe would be “special ed staff”, if paid for by special ed funds.

Thank you for the response. It says in IDEA and our state site (Georgia) that the IEP must be served by a “highly Qualified” teacher . It then goes on to describe this as one who has a special ed certificate among other things. It also defines that other providers may serve the student such as persons who provide therapies. I am asking because there was a situation with a long term substitute who was not sped certified.

Often states have rules about the use of staff who is not “highly qualified”. Sometimes parents have the right to ask that their child be changed to another teacher. If a child is making limited progress, a parent could ask that additional services be provided to their child. Find out what the district policy says, & write to the special ed director.

Can someone please post a link or the IDEA section that tells us that a gen ed teacher can provide a service that gets listed in the child’s iep. I will need this for a meeting as I was just told a gen ed teacher’s service cannot be written into my son iep.

I just sent a written request to the school asking them to please tell us who is who in our IEP. My son doesn’t seem to have a clue who he’s working with day to day. He keeps telling us he worked with a “para” today – odd thing is, the school nor state has any listed as being employed by/at the school – further mind boggling – there is no mention of our child working with a paraprofessional in our iep, but now i noticed it says “ADULT;” wonder if that would included the janitor or Fedex guy… Suddenly it all seems rather vague.

Ask the principal & special ed office in writing the position(s) of the staff working directly with your child. You can request an IEP meeting. Despite who is working with him, do you feel that the goals, & objectives are appropriate, & is he making progress?

I have an autistic 4 year old enrolled in a special ed classroom in public school. The special ed teacher is no longer in the classroom due to an injury. There has been a substitute teacher for the last two months- I haven’t received a completed IEP progress report card because neither the sub or the teacher assistant is qualified to add data to the report. There is a major shortage of special ed teachers in Early Childhood Education here. I am concerned about my child’s progress and the ability of the staff to meet his needs- my concerns deepened after a call from the assistant that my child had a temper tantrum.
What are my options?

can push in services into a regular ed classroom with a special ed aide and oversight by RSP teacher, be counted in SPED minutes?

I am just wondering. Can a Special Education teacher cancel their meetings of the students constantly throughout the school year? Ours does for several reasons… state testing, annual reviews, just because. Seems to me if the IEP calls for a certain amount of minutes weekly and you cancel classes, minutes are not being met. We in the regular educational positions have to teach our students everyday…from the first to the last. We never can just cancel classes. Just curious if anyone knew the answer or where I may look.

I’m an SLP. Most of my IEPs are written in terms of minutes per year (not per week). My IEPs also state that service may be interrupted for State testing, field trips, assemblies etc. I make sure that I meet my required yearly minutes and usually exceed the required amount of time.

That’s an obtuse view. We do not cancel classes just because we want to. These meetings are part of our job and a legal requirement. As it is, we rarely get a planning period, if we are told by admin to administer tests we can’t tell them no, if there is an emergency with one of our kids or even gen ed–we’re called.

you are required by law to implement the goals of the iep, which includes the minutes for service. if you are not ‘picking up your students,’ or ‘showing up in inclusive classrooms’ for the allotted time, you ARE out of compliance. a parent has every legal right to pursue due process in that case.

she didn’t present an obtuse view, but you presented an answer that dismisses the reason why you are employed as a special educator.

your admins. like many, especially in charter schools, are abusing your responsibilities at the expense of the child. and you ‘buy in’ to the abuse when you dismiss legitimate complaints from regular education teachers. moreover, the parent has every legal right to pursue due process if his/her child’s IEP isn’t being implemented properly.

I absolutely agree. The Special Education teacher’s role is not only to co-teach. There are many other duties and responsibilities as part of that role as a legal requirement.

I am a regular ed teacher at a public school. This year we had a student who was mainstreamed to my Science/Social Studies class. He didn’t last long, though. He had many absences, until finally in January it was decide that he would remain in the SPED room for all instruction. The SPED teacher wanted me to provide weekly lesson plans for the student. The SPED department did not hold a meeting for a change of placement on his IEP. I mentioned this to principal and was told he would check into it. Then, in February we had his annual IEP, which at this meeting it was decided to put him back in my class. His attendance continued to be an issue. Today I was told he is going back to SPED. I am to be responsible for his course work and grading all work. Is this legal?

My child is on his 4th year of IEP assistance at school. He is in 5th grade and should be in 7th. I am having several issues with the new IEP teacher.1st – He received the same assistance in his previous school years2nd-He is fresh out of college and first year of trying to assist our children3rd- His lack of knowledge leaves him sending our children back to class with incomplete test due to him not understanding the work himself
4th- He is degrading our children – has been all school year and us parents are just now being told by our kids5th- On my part -I am divorced – my ex-husband and I have shared physical custody and must make all decisions together – his new wife has interfered with my childs education going behind my back talking to the teachers and texting calling etc

Boy does this sound like exactly what I’ve been going through. Inexperienced resource teachers, resource not actually happenimg, an ex situation too with split custody. I feel for you and your son. I’m still dealing with the nightmare. Hang in there.


Is it legal for a teacher hire another teacher to write their ieps

Can teachers be directed to give Special Needs students what they give the Regular Ed students and not provide accommodations or modifications per the IEP until after they have been evaluated.

Can a teaching assistant meet minutes when he/she pushes into a general education classroom?

Can you tell me where I can find the IDEA and Federal Special Ed Regulations that confirm this? I am not understanding what the legal regulation says and can not find any help on the IDEA website.

try out the ATTitude site – generally covers everything 504/IEP

I´m a special education teacher. In the programs and services section of the IEP I would not add reading specialist or add goals specifically for the reading specialist. I would add the reading specialist time into the supplementary supports section of the IEP. It certainly can be written in though…….

Would you mind expounding on why supplementary supports section rather than programs and services section?

If a special education teacher does not know the curriculum than they should not be teaching.

I am a teacher and have a student whom is thought to be in need of special education services. The district does not have a psychologist who speaks the child’s native language and therefore the only types of assessments being used are behavioral scales. Is the district held accountable for finding someone who speaks the child’s native language to assess cognitive and achievement abilities and to determine if their is a discrepancy warranting a learning disabilities. The language is Turkish. If the district is not responsible can the parent request that the district pay for an outside evaluations? Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

After one year of a failed IEP,getting an official diagnosis and becoming trained in Dyslexia. I currently enrolled my Dyslexic 9 year old in the school districts home school program. We recently had an IEP meeting in which I thought were going to adjust the IEP to the homeschool setting, however it was overruled by the IEP team and the other parent that she be back in public school. Is it true that only one parent has to decide? Is it true that the IEP has to follow the student every where she goes? Any help would be appreciated in answering these questions.

As a regular education teacher, I certainly do not feel it is a burden to have an IEP student in my class. However, there are many things written in an IEP and intervention specialist are not providing these services. I have now worked with two in the past seven years and I have to almost beg them to work with the IEP students while I work with the other kids. This is especially needed when our class sizes are up to thirty kids. To parents, definitely advocate for your child. Ask the intervention specialist what they are particularly doing to meet the IEP needs. Often times they show up with data that appears to show growth. These are tests that have the same format and the same type of questions. It is very easy to show growth. Ask specifically how many times they are working with your child in the inclusion class.

My question is similar but opposite, can IEP goals be implemented by general Ed teachers?

Also, for Marilyn:

Follow-up for figuring out of the person is qualified: don’t just ask for the degrees and certifications. Ask what program is being used, and what kind of training does the person have in that program? Also, helpful to find out: what kind of experience does the person have and who is supervising them if they are not a special education teacher? How are results being assessed? Who will figure out if the program is effective? How will this be reported to you?

Good luck!

For Marilyn:

I think the key is figuring out two things: 1) is the aid trained and qualified to do what they are being tasked to do, and 2) are you seeing any measurable results?

In our experience, we had a situation in which the answers were 1) No, and 2) No.

You need to go find out the answers to these questions.

I am experiencing a “who is responsible for what” situation with my 15 year old with NLD and dyslexia. He is included for everything but math. He has special SDI regarding homework, study guides, testing accomodations, etc. These accomodations are not all being met because according to the LS teacher, my son needs to ask for them. They want him to advocate for himself. While I agree that self-advocacy is important, it seems wrong to expect the student to implement his own IEP. And when he does ask classroom teachers for accomodations, they don’t seem to understand. He has asked for word banks and concrete examples, he’s been told, the answers are in the book and be creative. How do I tactfully handle getting classroom teachers to actually modify and accomodate according to the SDI?

I’m kind of in a unique position with this. My 16 y.o. daughter w/ Tourette’s, OCD and NLD requires residential level of service. Our district has agreed to that, however they are insisting on 2 placements that are grossly inappropriate (and unsafe!) for her. It states right in the IEP that they will *not* fund any placement that is not “special ed certified.”

After searching far and wide, we finally found a placement to accommodate her VERY complex needs and profile. They are fully accredited, however they are not special ed certified. While I agree that in many cases it is advantageous to have special ed certified teachers, it’s not always possible in residential settings. So in our case, would this issue be in our favor?

It should also be mentioned that literacy, reading and writing, is within the scope of practice of ALL speech-language pathologists. Often, speech-language pathologists are excluded from providing supports in this area because those administering IEPs are unaware and uninformed.
I cannot tell you how many times a CSE or CPSE Administrator has asked me to rewrite my literacy goals because they are not the goals of a “talking therapist.”
For further information on the Roles and Responsibilities of the Speech Language Pathologists see the ASHA document found at

@Beth- If the teacher/tutor isn’t proficient in his primary mode of communication, then how is he to benefit from the instruction?!?!

He is entitled to someone that can communicate with him in his PMC, or at the least- they need to be providing a certified interpreter.

Don’t let them get away with that at your son’s expense. Someone who took 3 ASL courses is not proficient enough to provide clear communication and language.

Good luck!

I have learned that you have to look at the data to see if your child’s making progress. Data includes my child p’s commets which re important in those middle school years. Listen to then as some classes re more productive than others. If the school district does not fully have he staffing (and many do not)–you may have ti collaborate and focus on your child’s progress. As your child gets older, this is important as teacher become more overwhelmed. My chid is succeeding because I pushed for some things versus others. I do get tired but I am my child’s advocate. Every year, it is work but well worth it. The issue, for me, is not blame but collaboration. Each chid is unique and I focus on that.

Melissa – My son was on an OHI IEP for his ADHD & the school did write an IEP for him that included goals that pertained to his ADHD.The goals included behavioral goals, education goals, accommodations & modifications. We did have some difficulty getting the school to add educational goals at first. They stated that an OHI IEP is for modifications/accommodations only. We contacted the State of Ohio Department of Education Special Education Department. They told us the team can put any goals that are necessary, education goals and other goals. Whatever meets the child’s needs. I don’t understand why your school system is not writing an IEP . It is my understanding that they must do so. Perhaps a call to your state will help clarify.

My son’s school qualified him for special education (based on other health impairment of ADD and specific learning disability of dyslexia), but refuses to write an IEP because he isn’t receiving services directly from

He is in the regular education classroom receiving accommodation/modifications. He also has a reading specialist/interventionist. This reading specialist/interventionist is pulling him out of his regular education classroom for 60 minutes 5 days a week. Shouldn’t he have an IEP with the special education teacher as a consult to the regular ed teacher and reading interventionist?

Let us not discount the aids. Both sides made a good point. There is the law and the reality..for me as a parent I went the middle ground and my dyslexic child is making remarkable progress. Well trained parafrofessionals can do a lot under the supervision of a teacher. Paraprofessions with training can implement programs with fidelity and track data. The middle ground is important and will insure success as opposed to a frustrated teacher who truly cannot meet the needs of all students. Look at the and work with the staff. Your child will benefit more by your collaborative efforts and by any adverserial approach.

Hi to Marilyn 🙂
I know it seems counter-intuative to have your child pulled out by “just an aid” and not a specialist. Ask yourself if your child is doing better tho. I felt that way when my dyslexic kiddo started into a similar “reading intensives” program. HOWEVER, in my kiddos case he was being helped by an aid who had her own dyslexic kiddo who was currently in his last year at college. She had completed several orton gillingham based reading instruction courses in order to help her own kiddo and was actually MORE qualified to help my kiddo than the special ed teacher, even tho she did not have a teaching degree. A special Ed teacher has to learn a little bit about a lot of things, including basic curriculum stuff. This wonderful lady probably would not have been able to teach math but she helped my guy more than any one else.

What about a class in a school district that provides the majority of its academic instruction (special education) via instructional assistants (who are not licensed special ed. instructors). My son’s previous class had everyone of its children with autism diagnosis instructed by an instructional assistant. All of the kids in the class are steered toward a functional curriculum regardless of ability.

I believe that all children with IEPs should be taught by some one who can understand their situation. The regular ED teacher is not taught how to deal with these children. They do not have the training and a lot of times the understanding to deal well with special needs. Most regular ED teachers I know think it is a burden to have spec. needs kids. They did not go to school for special ed. They went for reg. ed, because that is what they want to teach.That is why they have different degrees. regular ed and special ed. The teachers are not up to the challenge of teaching the special needs children. I have seen it time and time again. Reg. ED getting special ED kids and not doing anything for them. They just sit in class and get ignored for the most part. Sad but true. They lie and say they are following it and fudge records. Good luck…

a special education teacher does not have enough time to deal with children with disabilities, because they work with the whole school in small counties. My son is 10 and cannot read and write. He does have disabilities but not that would stops him from learning to write. The help he has had comes from classroom aides. When I ask for help from a one on one, the answer is always well the aide can’t just work with one child. I am asking for a reading specalist for reading and math. if they refuse I am asking for medation

Special educators are always in workshops learning how to handle situations with special education. Why would someone want to put all the responsibility in the hands of the regular teacher. Let’s look clearly at the picture. If you’re a vegetarian are you forced to eat meat. Special educators are well trained, furthermore, they received extra stipend to take care of the students needs; why not just leave it alone. i work with special education children and sometimes I think I am forced to forced them to work.

I understand needing to re-direct comments back to the original questions.. However – I think it is important to acknowledge people’s frustrations and feelings. I agree that parents expect and demand WAY too much from the public school system. They are lucky to be getting a FREE education for their children and just expect more and more. The burden should not rest soley with the schools.
We, the teachers, did not give birth to these children. We are simply trying to do our jobs to the best of our ability with the limited resources we have and for meager pay!!!! I have survived this profession for 25 years but completely understand those who give up much sooner. This politically incorrect comment comes from my perspective as both a special ed teacher and mother of a gifted student. Those are the ones being sorely neglected!!

I have found many more parents forcing themselves to take sides than teachers. Many parents I have observed base generalizations of ALL teachers from the worse teachers they have experienced. All school districts are strapped for funds/personnel/etc. Blaming the teachers or even the school district for this problem is like blaming a mechanic who hasn’t fixed your car for it breaking. If you psychologically need someone to blame, then blame the way schools are funded or the politicians who decide to require miracles and fund it with pennies. Blame-hungry parents are the reason I quit teaching Special Education. 24/7/365 advocacy/teaching/IEP meetings/informal, unpaid overtime/etc. made the decision for me. The passion for helping those students who desperately needed it drowned under power-hungry parents who couldn’t control anything else.