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Survey by Dee Alpert, Esq.

Special Education Survey: Document Alteration, Falsification and Forgery

About the Survey   Instructions   Preliminary Findings   About Dee Alpert 

(Wrightslaw Note: This survey has been posted and republished on many internet websites and listservs.
Deadline to respond: Friday, February 22, 2002 11:00 p.m. EST)

About the Survey: A Message from Dee Alpert

On October 3, 2001, President Bush appointed the Commission on Excellence in Special Education. Later this year, this Commission will make recommendations to Congress and the White House about the reauthorization of the IDEA.

Based on reports from parents, advocates, attorneys, and past or present special education staff around the country, it appears that falsification of documents and forgery of signatures may be common and widespead. If so, this must be brought to the attention of the Commission on Excellence in Special Education and the Congress so that appropriate amendments to the IDEA can be proposed.

Forgery is a crime. Forgery is no less important when it is done by school personnel who are responsible for educating or evaluating disabled children. Forgery includes forging parents signatures on IEPs, consent to evaluate forms, etc.

Similarly, falsifying required special education documents is a crime. Falsification of documents should not be overlooked because the actions were taken by school personnel. Falsification includes:

  • Having school staff sign IEPs or IEP Meeting notes as though they attended a meeting, when they did not attend the meeting;
  • Creating evaluation reports when evaluations were not done;
  • Creating false records to indicate timely evaluations, timely IEP meetings, or timely commencement of services;
  • Creating false records to indicate that related services were provided in accordance with a child's IEP, when the related services were provided less often than mandated in the IEP, or not at all.

If you have experienced any of these actions, you should complete this survey. After you answer the questions, please provide a short description of the specifics of your incident(s) (i.e., forged my signature on IEP," or "three teachers' signatures on IEP but teachers were not at the meeting.").

Instructions

This survey consists of five questions. Question 2 and Question 3 have several parts.

Copy and paste the survey questions into a word processing document or Notepad. Answer the questions. When you are finished, copy and paste your questions and answers into an email.

Send your email to sappell@nyc.rr.com?subject=IDEA SURVEY and it will go to Dee.

Deadline: Friday, February 22, 2002 at 11:00 pm

The Survey

1. Are you answering this survey as (check all that apply):

Parent___ Advocate___ Attorney___

Current or former special education staffer or administrator ___

2. Please check each item (below) that has happened to you, or if you have seen this happen to another individual's disabled child or children:

A. Official IEP Meeting Attendance documentation was created to show that an IEP team meeting took place, when no such meeting was actually held ____

B. Official IEP Meeting Attendance documentation was altered to show the attendance of persons who were not at the IEP Meeting _____

C. Official IEP Team Meeting Attendance Sheet shows the signature of a person or persons who attended for 1-2 minutes only, but were not present for most of the meeting _____

D. Official IEP Meeting Attendance Sheet or IEP Agreement or IEP Consent Sheet with the parent's signature was attached at a later time to a different IEP than that which the parent agreed to at the IEP Team Meeting _____

E. Official IEP Meeting notes were falsified to reflect discussions about issues that were not discussed or to reflect agreements that were not arrived at during that meeting _____

F. The district created two or more IEPs for the student that covered the same time period, but the parent only received a copy of one of these IEPs_____

G. A parent's signature was forged on an official IEP Attendance or Consent Form _____

H. A parent's signature was forged on an official Consent to Evaluate Form _____

I. The signature of a parent's outside evaluator was forged on an evaluation, recommendations, diagnosis, or prescription form _____

J. The district's official evaluation report was falsified _____

K. The district created one or more official evaluation reports although no evaluation(s) had actually been done _____

L. Official documentation was created to show that related services had been provided as mandated by the child's IEP, although the services were actually provided less often, or not at all _____

M. Official falsified progress report(s) or documentation was created and used by the district. _____

3. If any of the incidents listed above happened to you, did you complain about it to (Check all that apply) -

N. Your State Education Department _____

O. The U. S. Department of Education's Office for Special Education Services _____

P. The U. S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights _____

Q. A State or Local Prosecutor _____

R. A United States (Federal) Prosecutor _____

4. If you complained to any of the offices listed in Paragraph 3 above, was a full investigation made regarding your complaint?

YES_____ NO_____ DON'T KNOW_____

5. If you checked any item in Paragraph 3 (above), was any school district staff or administrator disciplined as a result of their actions?

YES_____ NO_____ DON'T KNOW

Note to Survey Respondents: If an individual who is a district administrator, supervisor, employee, or outside contractor took any of the actions listed in paragraphs A through M, please respond as though the district did this.

If you have experienced an incident listed above more than once, or you have seen this done more than once, insert the number of times you believe this happened in the blank line after that item.

Preliminary Findings & Observations

Dee provided us with her preliminary findings and observations. We converted her findings into a pdf document that you can download from -

http://www.wrightslaw.com/news/2002/prelim.survey.pdf

To learn about the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2002), the President's Commission on Excellence in Special Education, and what you can do, please visit the IDEA 2002 page.

Message from Wrightslaw

If you are tempted to complain about this survey, please realize that we see many altered IEPs, forged signatures, and falsified documents. When educators engage in these practices or look the other way, they damage vulnerable children -- and themselves.

Parents and children are not alone. Our 2001 Creative Solutions Contest featured a teacher who discovered that her students' IEPs were changed while she was away from school over the summer. She wrote to ask what she should do.

We realized that we had hundreds of experts among our newsletter subscribers. We sent her question to you in a Creative Solutions Contest. Hundreds of subscribers sent creative solutions to this teacher's dilemma. Many educators shared their own similar stories with us. We published these solutions and you voted for the solution you favored. Learn how people voted in the 2001 Creative Solutions Contest.

Pete represents Stefan Jaynes and his parents. In Stefan's case, the Hearing Officer found that the school district altered Stefan's IEPs and reduced or eliminated services without his parents' knowledge or consent. Stefan's case was upheld on appeal to the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Learn more about Stefan's case

We will forward your survey responses to Dee. We will keep you posted about her findings.

Thanks for your help!


About Dee Alpert, Esq.

Dee Estelle Alpert, Esq., is a retired New York City-based attorney who handled cases throughout New York State for over a decade, and acted as consulting counsel in special education cases nationally. She is on the Professional Advisory Board of the Long Island Chapter of the Tourette Syndrome Association.

Dee began looking at special education law when her son was five and was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome. Fortunately, his disability was mild. Nevertheless, she had to threaten to go to federal court and cut off all its federal funds before the New York City Board of Education would give her son a 504 Plan at his High School. Dee tells us that the head of the school told the teachers to ignore the 504 plan.

Dee's first special education due process hearing on behalf of a child lasted twelve days. She quickly realized that these cases require special attorneys with litigation skills. Litigation was sometimes necessary to protect parents and children from a system that seemed designed to deprive them of their most basic rights and dignity.

Currently, Dee is focusing on systemic special education and education issues and tactics, including various inquiries into special education and public school district financial and related corruption. She collaborates with a retired Professor of Education Finance, and has provided consultation to various New York prosecutors and politicians.

The results of her survey will be used in conjunction with her forthcoming testimony before the Commission on Excellence in Special Education.

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