Can a Child with an IEP Fail?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

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:

Leave a Reply

72 Comment threads
63 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
95 Comment authors
Notify of

I work with a child who had an IEP. She had missed over 60 days of school because she did not feel like coming. She is getting A’s, B’s, and C’s even though she turns in almost no assignments. I think we and her parent are not helping her in any way by allowing this.


I’m in the same situation. How do we grade students (with IEPs) who have been absent a majority of the time?


This depends on your state rules, & or your district policy.


both my boys are in this classes. one has really hard time reading and he slow and other he can’t do good unless on one on one. school is talking about holding them back 8th grade and 6th grade. they been in this classes since 1st grade. what can I do school? does not give homework, just makes them stay after school to work or come in early in morning. no breakfast. I disabled my self. plz, what can I do? they never failed always do there best turns in work.


I suggest that you contact your state parent training and information center.


Why would you want them to be passed from grade to grade, if they aren’t successful? It will catch up to them sooner, or later.


My son is on an IEP and has been since the 4th grade. He is know in the 6th grade and I recently found out the school wants him to repeat the 6th grade, but I have also found out in the past 5 months no one at the school has been working with him at all, it’s like the school forgot about him. What can i do about this. The principal is no help and doesn’t believe me about what his IEP says


Your state parent training & information center can help you learn your rights, & options in this situation.


My son has a 504 plan and has been held back five times. he does his school work as best as he can even online with help and still fails and gets held back. is this legal? This has been going on since he was in sixth grade, he’s now 17 and should be a senior in high school but he’s not. he’s about to give up on school all together. I don’t know where to turn. He has a heart condition and also suffers from migraines.


Your state parent training & information center is a good source of information to assist you.


I feel for you our school failed us and my son is 17 without a proper education! The public school system failed us passed him out of 8th grade with all f’s!!! How is that even legal??? Cheers to the public school system that picks out the children that they want to teach!


I have question. school changed laws this year. if you’re in special education classes or any kind of help, they do random drug test on you & if you refuse the test, they kick you out of school. My son is in 12 grade last year. He’s also on IEP and has been since he’s been in school. He is unable to pass without IEP. Can anything be done about the new drug law?


It amazes me how after reading your comments I’m going through the same thing. my son was hit by a car. he had home schooling and he did summer school. after all that he was retained and no one at the school have answers to why. After a year, I’m meeting with the special education department, still no answer.


Wow, I’m sorry that happened, should’t stuff like that be illegal. Idk because i’m just 16…


In our last 504 meeting, i discussed my son’s grades and told them that he was not ready for 6th grade. School vice principle said that my son cannot be held back a grade, because he was on a plan. And it was against the policy to held him back.


My son has had an IEP for several years now. He is now 15 and his report card says he was retained. I am trying to determine what course of action to take. IEP has not been followed until at least 3/4 way through last year.
Last year he was also retained…. in 6th grade. He is seriously behind. One year he repeated one grade…. THREE TIMES. When questioned they said he simply did not adequately demonstrate proficiency.
He was “adjusted” mid-year last year to be in 7th grade (but majority of classes were 6th). Last year at a meeting for IEP the teachers ADMITTED to not following the IEP because “not enough time to focus on him with a whole class to teach”.
What can I do to “make” them promote him since hes not failing EVERYTHING and they were not following IEP that THEY made?


Hi, I’m going through the same thing with my 7yr old now. The school sent a report card home saying “promoted to the 2nd grade” but I didn’t find out she was retained until Open House 2 days ago. I’m furious Bc they never followed the IEP plan


Hi I’m going through the same thing with my 8 yr…she was held back because was running the halls not being in class that much..I got her evaluated she has ADHD..can they hold back…even tho I got her evaluated.


Can a student get summer school with an IEP


Yes because my daughter went


I adopted my nephew when he was 15 but was in the system since he was 7. the iep teacher who does not like me said she had to pry info out of my son. then I was called in and told my son was suicidal, but I had never seen any signs, so I committed him to the hospital after the meeting was done. they just wanted him out of there. he went to a state hospital and they are thinking the same thing as me a school cop his school counselor & his IEP teacher. I may be stuck with this bill which I includes a 50 minute ambulance ride. I don’t know what to do?


My son is in 8th grade and 504 with Erlin scotopic syndrome . He has been A/B honor roll all year , if he fails his STARR test , can he be held back and not promoted to 9th grade ?


Can a school hold back your child from being promoted to Junior High if child has IEP and it is document that child and parents did everything to support child, but school failed to provide FAPE? I am finding out from a mass e-mail sent to all the parents that my daughter may not be being promoted out of 5th grade into 6th grade. I am concerned as I feel that the parents should have been informed prior to now as well as the means in which this information was communicated, in addition to the fact that this teacher has a tendency to discriminate against students with LD. My daughter should not be penalized for having an LD and for school failing to provide FAPE. HELP PLEASE! What can I do?

Thank you.


17 year old son received his IEP recently. All seemed well until son’s father, with whom son has very acrimonious court case, claimed rights to be involved. Has not seen him since 2014. He and his father cannot be in the same place until reconciliation counseling is complete. That is on hold. School honored father’s rights to be at the IEP meeting which meant son could not attend his OWN IEP meeting, I could not. IEP is not being followed, son is failing. Neuro-psych report, basis for IEP clear, was followed in IEP, nothing being done anyway. Father cc’d in all emails, is all over this school. What is school’s responsibility to student? Student’s rights, please? Does he have any?

Melissa A.

If transition was discussed, the school has a legal obligation to invite the student. Since he is a minor, it is ultimately the decision of his legal guardian(s) as to whether or not he attends. Father, if he has legal custody, also has a right to attend and participate in the meeting. If father and son are allowed to communicate but not be physically in the same place, one could attend and participate via teleconference.

If the IEP is not being followed, the guardian(s) need to follow up on that, moving up the food chain. Start with documentation, talk to the teacher(s) responsible, then building administration, then district administration, then up to the state level with mediation, complaints, or even lawsuits as deemed necessary.


I have a son who is in 8th grade. He is 2E in math however he on the verge of failing. He has IEP. Does he have any IEP rights if he is in advanced math or do you need to be behind or on grade-level and failing for an intervention to happen?


I have a student 8th grade with an IEP that I cannot get motivated in class. She is failing 3 required classes, is a half a semester behind in 6th grade L/A and a full year behind in 7th grade Science. I have tried everything. I know the reason behind this is because she doesn’t think she is capable of passing but she is. When she does work, it is quality work. However when she is given a test she shuts down and guesses on every answer. I remind her that her accommodations allow for her to have more time but she doesn’t take advantage and read each question. Can you help me help her??


Maybe you could try another form of assessment like project based or oral exams. One of the students I recently worked with also shut down when ever she was required to read for an assessment. She would read in class but would freak out at the long passages. I spoon feed her the test, I covered the long passage and did it one step at a time. Also I have a student that is not able to write or spell, so he is allowed to create a portfolio for his assessments in reading, he is given a rubric for the presentation and a due date and instead of doing a written assessment, he creates an online portfolio or website or blog.


If u have a iep do u have to pass the OTG


If you have an IEP does it matter if u pass the OGT????



I just recently got my son IEP to revoke, he has a IEP since fourth grade. I don’t think it was helping him I did not see any improvement until I stated get tutorial lessons for him. I will continue to let him get tutoring help I think his IEP was holding him back then helping him.


My daughter is seven years old who walked early, talk early and even moved up in her daycare grades early. This year she’s in grade two falling behind in her spelling and the school is ready to place her in an IEP program. She does not need special IEP, she needs help and tutoring. Parents should be careful because some school get extra funding for these programs and they need to fill them so they will place children who don’t need the program in them which, in tern will held them back. I started a new job so I wasn’t available to help my child but she does not have special need, she simply needs tutoring. these teachers are lazy and will hold your child back with these programs. I know some children need these programs but make sure to have your own testing and observation done.


I salute parents like you. I am a Teacher and I believe in the wisdom behind IEPs. But there are parents who abuse this. They just want their child to pass. Despite the interventions, strategies that we do, the child refuses to work because he claims “I HAVE IEP” and hence he should not fail. The Father said “I think instead of pushing my child, this accommodations are making him lazy.” But the Mother just wants her child to pass and uses the IEP. Other children just needs organization, a little tutoring; not necessarily IEP that will require them to attend resource classes resulting to being held back (instead of taking a required class, they will be in resource)


My child failed and she has iep and she is doing her best to get her grade up but cant. she is in 7th grade. she came home crying because she failed. It is making me upset too and now she is getting made fun of. Now that she is failing she is threatening to kill herself.


my son is failing all his classes but one that is his special education class. he has a IEP also


Ask for a re-evaluation. She made need to have her IEP adjusted if she isn’t meeting her goals. I am having an issue with one of my students not working in class and is failing. I am a Support Facilitator and we are limited in what we can try. Parents have more power in getting the answers. Ask for advocate to get involved!


I’m so sorry to hear that about your child.. Your post stood out to me a lot Bc I felt the same way as a child.. Now my 7 year old, have an IEP in place and going through the same things I went through as a child.. Be an advocate for your daughter, my mother wasn’t an advocate for me, she never got me checked to see what was wrong with me.. So, I make sure I’m my daughter cheerleader.. If she has a IEP in place, her school should give her work on her own level.. Over the summer, I’m getting my daughter a tutor Bc she learns better if you show her how to do it, better then you telling her.. Anything I show her, I only have to show her once.. If I ask her to go do something, 9/10 she want get it correct.. Please try to get a IEP or 504 plan in place for her, if u already haven’t done so.


My son has been on an IEP since 1st grade. When he attended school on the low side of town, same district he received massive help. However, when we moved to an upper scale school same district, he was held back in the 4th. He attended summer school and did not pass. They said there was no appeal. In the second 4th grade year he barely passed..struggling the entire year! It did not matter if he passed or fail, because you cannot be held back in the same grade twice. My son is on a IEP for learning, medical, and mental disabilities. When I took my son out of school during the last semester of 5th grade the CPS was called saying there was no medical evidence behind his behavior at school…no violence, just other things. I had a folder of all interaction from doctors to schools etc…so the case was dropped. My son attends online school. He is doing awesome now. He still is behind a bit, be but the grades, improvement, and his love for school has increases.


hi, what online school does he attend?


can a IEP student get held back in the 12th grade ?


yes he could


Son (7th grade-Texas public) just moved to new ISD. Sons has been classified 504 since 5th; ADHD. Very little help in 6th grade at old ISD. When we moved we brought 504 paperwork to get him into a program here. He has had very little accommodations here and is very discouraged because of low grades. Not sure how to handle the new ISD and the program (lack of) that this school is providing.


I need an attorney. Both my boys are on IEP and modifications and school is not helping them, refuses to modify work. Was on 504 but this school doesn’t do 504 I guess. Help.


My child is not performing as he expected at school. He is frustrated because he is studying and as parent we help him. But when is getting the results he get disappointed.i’m worried now he is getting stressed. He is taking consecta for concentration. In maths and english is struggling is getting level 2 and 3. Is Educational video can help my son because the psychologist said the IQ is fine the problem is concentration confidence self esteem now when is writing exam is having that feeling of not doing a right thing. Please help me this thing is killing us. Thank you Cynthia.


I was that way growing up…all because I missed Honors Night. “Hannah is cognitively capable of getting A’s and B’s and C’s. Her performance is based on her anxiety and stress.”


Because my son is under 504 and have IEP he has been eluded from certain academic programs like A honor roll or scholarships. According to his teachers he has straight A’s and a perfect score on his Starr tests. Yet my son cannot read easy reader books design for 1st grade;he is in the third grade(life skills) .I found that puzzling.My question is can a child with a disability not learn or be handicapped because it’s easily to give them the answers rather than teach them as the general education children? Im outrage


I have had the same issue since 3rd grade. My dtr would have her tests read to her because she cannot read well. They would give her the answers by saying the correct answer louder or with more emphasis. She never had homework, tests, studying and made straight A’s! Although still can barely read and write in 8th grade. My daughter does not think she has to do anything at school because they have always accepted little to no effort from her and she has always done fine. Last year, her science grade finally reflected her failing test scores and somehow the teachers found 11 points to pass her for the year. This time I went to the school and begged them to “let her fly” to see what she is really capable of. She is failing every class. INSIST that the child does the work. Take away accommodations that are crippling his learning. Do not listen to the parents that are “softies” and think that kids’ hands need to be held all the time. The kids have to learn… I am outraged too.


So if my son has a iep he can’t fail right ?

Sharon L.

Try not to let them keep your daughter back anymore. Technically a child should not fail on an IEP. THe IEP sounds like it is not written for her success & you should immediately get a meeting together with the school to correct this problem. IEP meetings can be requested any time there is need & I believe this qualifies. Do you have anyone you could go over the IEP with (friends, physician, teacher, psychologist) so you can see what some of the issues may be. Check on-line or at the library for “How to write an IEP”. Check with local support groups. Read books from places like “Wrightslaw”, LDA, etc. Knowledge is power & can help you in this case. Many children who get held back end up quitting school when they become legal age & the school must tell them their rights at 18.


My 9 year old child has a IEP, and she has already failed once, she was held back in the kindergarden and now she is in the third grade threaten that she may be held back again. Is this even legal? My child is already the biggest one in her class. Does the No child left behind help this situation at all. I do not think this will be healthy for her, if this happens she will be 13 in the 5th grade this is crazy Please help


My son has an IEP. dx Lukemia and in remission going on 4 years. He missed first grade year and repeated it due to the lack of fundamentals. 2nd grade was average passed with satisfaction. At that time only a 504 was in place. 3rd grade dealing with my sons health in which was his last year of treatment . Horrible year teacher said he’s fine doing well. Until the last month. Your son is noT Making the bench marks.. 4th grade now, IEP in place, nice teacher, don’t worry give it time. OK.. he’s going be fine. 41/2 months later…. Sorry but he’s failing.. Mom is not happy. So IEP meeting coming up this week. And I’m fuming


i have an 8th grade student with an IQ of 60 whose mother refuses to put him in the correct placement to recieve services. He is currently in an 8th grade math class and is unable to pass the class since he is functioning at a second grade math skill. His mother is under the impression that he cannot fail the class because of his IEP. Modifications and accomodations have been made for the student in the class to help, but the information is way above his head. Help!


If My Child had An IEP would she be able to receive help on her o.g.t or would she have to score an certain score ?


Michelle, As a parent, I know that grades are only one measure of progress. I also look the hard data–such as assessments, DRP, DRA, etc. I look at what my child is bringing home for homework, etc. I ask my child a lot of questions. The principal may think that such ok. But, it sends a message to the studetns and their parents that they are making progress–when they are not. One large school district recently did a training about about “progress monitoring.” A clear point was made that “grades” are not a good measure but hard data is the measure. Guess what, the district has over 11,000 students and only 7 parents attended the workshop. The ones who attended left with a strong knowledge base. Parents must have the knowledge to “walk the talk and talk the walk.”


My son has an IEP in Language. He has needed help in math for several weeks now. They want me to take him to a Doctor and have him to sign a paper to say he has ADD/ADHD to get help. He has a learning disability. Does he Have to have ADD/ADHd to get math help?


I am a teacher and have recently been instructed by the principal to give passing marks to all students receiving special education services.

Our students generally benefit from the modifications we implement, and generally receive passing grades. However, we are at the high school level, and sometimes students with IEPs or 504 plans do receive failing grades on their own merit. I feel it would be discrimination to pass these particular students (and sends them a poor message). Can you direct me to the specific law that outlines why it is not illegal to fail students receiving special services? Thanks!


My 12 year old son has an IEP. He has been struggling with grades. He has been trying to make up work. He went to math class and was finishing up a final paper on language arts. Math teacher said it was time for math – he was sent to office. Then was asked to sign a contract stating that he be on time for call, carry a 70% or above and refrain from disrupting the class. If not, he will be removed from that school, or referred to juvenile courts. He is not a problem child.. no fighting or bad language teachers say he is sweet. Please advise?


I don’t need an IEP. Is It anyone out there that can help me to get out of this. This IEP made me not get accepted to High School I would like to go to. I should have been of this years ago. I don’t won’t to go to a public school for my life and not even a year.I know whats best for me.


Help! We just had an IEP facilitated meeting with a goal to redo an FBA with a new IEP/BIP because we could not agree on the current one. Meeting went wonderfully on Feb 8 but I received a letter from Principal of Early College High School (who was at the meeting) on Feb 9 stating child is on probation and will return to base HS if she gets one more disciplinary warning or action. Was not brought up at meeting complete surprise. I believe this is retaliation for the facilitated meeting. She has targeted the child that I am almost afraid to send her to school. Was recourse do I have?


Myson is in the 8thgrade. I pulled him out of the school that the IEP team decided would be the best place for him. He has been passed with Fs in 6,7, along with AIMS scores falling in subject areas, Math the worst. The teacher of the class refused to recognize and accommodate his Bipolar ODD medicine effects , and used negative reinforcement over and over again. I called for a meeting ; she would lie and say she would make schedule adjustments and not follow through, and did not ever follow the 17 steps made in his behavior mod plan. Within 9min first hour my son was Kicked of the soccer team and had a out of class referral and was physical pulled into ISS by two teachers, while waiting for me to come and get him. No documentation of the incident was done. I homeschool him at 6th grade level, will he be able to start 9th grade next year?

As an Advocate for 28 years I have helped parents develop a “Draft” IEP and BMP for the IEP team. We go through the whole IEP they have from the IEP team and then “Draft” the new IEP the child or teen should have, with the parents, so they know exactly what they are filling out and the reasons why. We send it in ahead of time with all documentation attached. I would encourage all advocates to do the same for it gives the parents the power and knowledge of what is going on and why.


My child was under the 504 a few years back but is not under it now. He is ADHD and has a very hard time with organization and remembering to turn in his assignments. In the past he was reminded to turn them in or finish them. When he moved up to 7th grade last school year we had him take all of his books and papers to every class. This year alone he has over 40 0’s for not turning in work on time and 23 F’s for turning them in late. I have asked for help and asked for help to solve this matter. They keep saying that he is not entitled to services under 504. That he does not have enough of a problem to put him under 504. What else do I do? I have been to the special needs teacher the principle and even to the superintendent trying to get help. His brain does not work like ours does so he forgets to turn in assignments.