Can a Child with an IEP Fail?

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Does having an IEP guarantee my son will not fail?

The answer to this particular question is No. An IEP does not guarantee that a child will not fail.

If a child has a disability and needs special education services, the school and parents meet to develop an IEP.

The IEP is an educational plan that should be tailored to meet your child’s unique needs. The program, or plan, describes what a child needs to enable him to be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum.

The IEP does not guarantee that your child won’t fail, although it is unusual for a child with an IEP to fail.

On the flipside of this, a different question.

The school is denying my child services under Section 504 because he is not failing.  Does a student have to be failing to get a 504 plan or an IEP?

The answer to this question is No.  A child does not have to be failing to qualify for services under Section 504 or IDEA. The law does not mention “failing” as a criteria for services under Section 504 or IDEA.

If a child has a disability that limits a major life activity (such as reading and learning), he or she should be eligible for 504 protections.

Recently, the ADA was amended and renamed ADAAA. Section 504 was amended so that it incorporates the ADAAA and applies to public school students under Section 504. See

Take a look at the articles and resources on this page:

Your Challenge

If you have a child that is not failing but needs services, the law is on your side.  But that is not enough. You need to be a salesman and portray your child and his situation so school people want to help. This is your challenge.

Read our “Letter to the Stranger” article to see how a parent changed
their message, and in doing so, got her son the help he needed:

  1. My daughter is a senior in high school in Illinois and her IEP was never modified to fit her needs after returning to school from Covid. She also went through some traumatic events that caused her to shut down to people and avoid school. Her teachers never reached out to me so they failed her. The principal said if teacher never reached out they can not fail her, however they did. Is there anything that can be done

  2. If a school fails a HS student in a core class, WITHOUT a meeting to adapt the IEP or let the parent know the student is in jeopardy of failing, what recourse does the parent have?? Is the student required to make up that missed credit during summer school? This is in Arkansas.

  3. My son is 16 sophomore in high school. He has a great IEP with great accommodations. My son has ADHD/Bipolar and takes meds. My son dress going to school and doing the work and he does the bare minimum. The teachers give him a lot of time to turn in his work and also offer tutor.If my son doesn’t pass his classes …what other options do i have for him? Should I retain him to buy some time? I don’t know what to do.I know my son is responsible for his actions but i feel like a failure .

  4. My grandson has an iep. Unfortunately, he was evaluated late (already in H.S.), after being held over in 7th grade. He showed signs of struggle, especially in math. Although my daughter showed concern, he was not evaluated than. The problem now is that he was supposed to graduate in June 2022, did not happen. We were than told he needed to complete summer school and that would than be a graduate…Did not happen.
    We were told he could graduate 2023. We were recently told that there is an error relating to his iep according to a staff member of the school. So now what??? My grandson is feeling so unaccomplished with this whole thing, He is 20 in high school, full of future plans, he has a trade waiting for him…so now what???

  5. What if the child never comes to school? Or what if the student with an IEP is 18 and refuses to attend school? Is the school still liable?

    • Doubtful the school would be held liable.

      The IEP would have to otherwise state a requirement on the school to provide reasonable ways to get to and stay at school, possibly provide reasonable encouragement in a case such as ODD; i.e., make it the school’s responsibility instead of the student and family’s.

      Truancy is easy to prove and if the student and family choose not to drink as the proverbial horse, well, that tends to be that.

  6. Got question my sister js on an iep and when In 2nd grade she should have failed reading we was then told by law she cannot fail a class that she has an iep in, and that if she recived an f on a grade card and had to repeat the class it was illigal and we could take it to court

    Fast forward some years she is now jr in a senior in HS i have a freind who is on an iep as well he failed his english class last year and i told him what we have been told by the iep teacher and evaluator and when we brought it up to the school they said that is not that case but if he never heard if such law or was never broght uo how coukd he know. Above says he can fail

    Id like to help hin bc if he cant fsil this needs fixed

    Anything would help
    Ohio is state

    • Terry, there is no law that says a child with an IEP can’t fail a subject or a class. If a child fails, this is evidence that the school needs to do more to help the child.

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