Making Up Missed Services

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My child has reading, speech and OT in her IEP.  How many times a month are the therapist’s “allowed” to miss a session?

There is nothing in IDEA or the federal regulations about “missing services.”

Here is a statement from a Related Services Fact Sheet from Families and Advocates Partnership for Education (FAPE) funded by OSEP.

“Your school district must provide the related services according to your child’s IEP. This is true even during times of personnel shortages or extended absences. To do this, the school system can contract with qualified providers outside the school system through another public or private agency.”

From the Pacer Center: “The school district must provide the related services in the child’s IEP. The district may contract with providers outside the school district if there are personnel shortages in the school.”

When the school system contracts with providers outside the system, it must be at no cost to the parents.

Your state Department of Education may have a specific policy regarding procedures for missed related services – that addresses provider absence or when a provider is engaged in other activities.

An example. The BCPS plan for making up missed sessions when:

  • There is a provider vacancy or long term leave
  • The provider misses a session
  • The student misses a session due to school-based assessment and field trips

Another example. Ohio’s “Procedures for Missed Related Services”  when the related service provider is absent or engaging in some alternative activity.

Check your state Department of Education website for policies or to find a contact and number you can call to ask questions.

Denial of FAPE

Missed sessions or interrupted services could constitute a denial a FAPE.

Refer to the OSEP letter, March 8, 2007,  about scheduling make-up sessions for related services like speech therapy.

“Schools must consider the impact of a provider’s absence or a child’s absence on the child’s progress and performance and determine how to ensure the continued provision of FAPE in order for the child to continue to progress and meet the annual goals in his or her IEP. Whether an interruption in services constitutes a denial of FAPE is an individual determination that must he made on a case-by-case basis.”

Filing a State Complaint

If you have evidence that supports your claim that the school did not provide the O.T. and P.T. services in your child’s IEP, you can file a complaint with your state department of education (SEA). Your SEA is responsible for supervising special education programs operated by school districts, and for ensuring FAPE. Your state must have a system to provide parents with information about complaint procedures and to resolve complaints.

Your claim will need supporting documentation.  Have you kept a record of missed sessions and the reason? Did you notify the school when sessions were missed to request when and how sessions would be made up?

TIP –  from Wrightslaw: All About IEPs

Most school holidays fall on Monday or Friday.  To  avoid missing therapy days on these holidays, try to select T- W- TH for your child’s therapy.

If not, state in the IEP that the missed therapy sessions will be made up before end of school year or through ESY.

  1. Hello my son has duchenne muscular dystrophy and the dr gave me a letter saying that my son need physical therapy but the physical therapist says she can’t provide it, I also asked the EC person from my sons school to help me with some stuff that will benefit my son. He struggles a lot to go to school and I asked her if she can help me get him where he can go fewer hours or less days, she said she’ll call me to talk about it and it’s been a week and I’m still waiting. What can I do in this situation? I’m in North Carolina

  2. Hi. I have some questions about gifted and talented services provided under an IEP in the state of Louisiana. I have searched up and down different Bulletins and can’t find anything in regards.
    If the student is absent is the provider responsible for making up missed minutes? This would require them to be pulled from the regular ed classroom to make these minutes up. The IEP states the following “The student will receive enrichment services for 200 minutes 1x per week.” No matter the answer can you help me locate citations based on the bulletin? Is a difference for excused and unexcused absences.

  3. Hi,

    My kindergarten son receives social services twice on Fridays for 20 minutes each and OT on Fridays for 20 minutes. Our school has given students the day off on Friday, January 29 and Friday, February 19 to allow teachers to receive the vaccination. I absolutely support teachers receiving their vaccinations. Is the school required to make up these minutes to my son?

  4. My son is receiving compensatory PT And OT services for Esy. OT has started already but there has been no services for Pt yet. School district is stating agency has informed them I need to have a script for services. A script has been provided at the start of 19/20 school year. Do I need to lrovide another script for esy or compensatory?

  5. I recently had a choking incident which resulted in my husband successfully doing the Heimlich maneuver on me. I’m now waiting on a fractured rib to heal, which is much better than the alternative. I missed 8 days of school. Because of grade-level district wide meetings, there were very few and often no subs available for my students. Basically, my students missed 5 days of special education services. My schedule has about 10 minutes of time that is not assigned to students. I can’t make up the missed time for 11 students over 5 days in 10 minutes per day increments. Even if I skipped lunch and planning time, this falls during my students’ lunch, recess, and resource time. Who is responsible for this time? Should a sped administrator have stepped in to cover this time?

    • Ideally yes! A district could choose to pay teachers to work with the students after the school day or the summer. To me the progress monitoring data should be used to determine if a student needs additional support regardless of the reason.

  6. I have a question that is kind of related, but I have not come across this particular situation. Similarly to the comments below, we do not make up student absences, holidays, or inservice days. However, if we do have the time in our schedule or opportunity to make up missed sessions, we do so. We have a new administrator who recently told us that it is illegal if we go over our IEP minutes. For example, if I see a student on Tuesdays and there happens to be a 5th Tues. that month, we are not to see them because it will put us over our minutes. If we’ve met that student’s minutes, we may use that time to make up any sessions that other student’s have missed. However, if that is not necessary, we usually just see the student at their regularly scheduled time. Has anyone had this experience?

  7. My question is similar to Bob’s question. How will a closures due to the Corona Virus impact related services like Speech Therapy? Will we have to make up minutes? What about ETRs and IEP that are due over the closure? There may be sufficient data to complete annual reviews and re-evaluations, but what about initial evaluations that could not be completed before an extended closure and the 60 days passes?

  8. My question is similar to Bob’s. Are SLP’s responsible for making up lost therapy minutes if the district shuts down due to illness like the Corona virus? What are your thoughts about SLP’s being told to make “Blizzard” like bags in the event the school closes?

    • Schools should send home packets for when natural disasters or illness hit, sometimes this can be done digitally. I don’t see why speech wouldn’t also send home a packet. I wouldn’t think that therapy minutes would have to be made up unless, the school adds days to the calendar to make up for the missed days.

  9. How are Spec Ed teachers supposed to deliver IEP services when the whole school shuts down for a sickness?

    • Generally, a school does not have to make up a few days of being out sick. You can request a meeting to discuss making up days, if you feel it is impacting them achieving their goals. If the therapist is out, those days should be made up.

  10. If Specialized Academic Instruction services are held on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and SAI is not held due to a state or federal holiday that lands on a Monday (for example), are those SAI services required by law to be made up? Thank you!

    • It is best to ask what the district policy is. It also can depend on how the amount of time is listed in the IEP. Typically schools do not have to make up for services on non-school days.

  11. Do speech therapy sessions need to be made up if a child is attending a fieldtrip on their scheduled therapy day, or is this similar to an absence?

    • You are allowed to request anything but that does not mean that the school has to grant it. Also, if your child is pulled out of class everyday he or she will be missing a lot of instruction.

      • The school can made accomodations,too try to get Services outside,in Florida if your child has Medicaid or Kidcare can have both Services and the therapy outside is one to one ,therapist and Patient and many times the therapy at school is with many kids.
        My son was non verbal at age 4,only screaming and pointing and I was pulling him from school to take outside for private therapy,and thanks to God he began to speak.
        The outside therapist began the therapy in Spanish because we are a Hispanic family.
        My decision for outside therapy was based that school system was no helping enough.
        I asked for signal language and they say no,they didn’t provide speech therapy for 6 years,because said he doesn’t qualify and they were no telling the true.

  12. Special ed director will not provide compensatory services for an entire year of missed IEP services. What to do?

    • Was an agreement reached? If it was in writing, you can use the state education agency, or a court to try to reinforce it. If not you, you can try to work with that person’s bosses, or the state education agency to get agreement for these services. Your state parent training and information center can assist you with your efforts.

  13. If a child did not receive services for almost an entire year due to the teacher being out and the school agreed to compensatory services what part of the iep does this need to go in to ensure it happens? They are only putting it in the minutes and I feel like that’s not the enough. Should it be in the services section with and start and end date or at least amount of weeks to ensure it happens? The child should have received 30 min a week for the year and was only seen 9 times.

    • Wherever it is put, details of the commitment, and amount of services, & when and where needs to be clear. This could be in IEP paperwork or a letter from the special ed director. You can send a letter to the appropriate campus staff, and special ed office listing your understanding of the agreement. If they do not respond back correcting your letter, they are acknowledging what you have said. It is important that the staff who would be providing the service, & monitoring it, are aware of the specifics, & document the services. Your state parent training & information project can assist you on how compensatory services are handled, & documented in your state.

  14. Can an OT do a make up session on a holiday for example Martin Luther King Day, if therapist is doing treatments in there home. I am a therapist in NY

  15. If I know that our special education teacher is not picking up her kids for services, is there anywhere in the law that says she has to make up those services she has missed?

    • The IEP is a contract between the school & the parent. If all services are not provided then the contract has been broken or breached. If the school will not agree to making up services, then the parent can use the dispute resolution processes (complaint to the state, mediation, request for a due process hearing) to try to reach resolution on the issue.

  16. Any one know if my child is due for compensatory for her speech/language services if she was kept home due to illness on the day of her SLP services?

    • If the student was absent, then no, she is not owed compensatory services. She also doesn’t receive an extra day of school if she was absent. If she is going to be absent for an extended period of time, the district is supposed to come up with a plan to provide services, which should be discussed in an IEP.

  17. Can anyone share any link or sample letters requesting make services on missed ot sessions. My sons 504 plan was approved on 2/15. He just had his first OT session last week 4/24/2015. Does the district owe me Ot sessions?

  18. I am wondering if a Principal in Texas complains to a CASA Advocate only minutes before a Contested ARD Meeting that was needed because Teacher’s were not following a Child’s IEP. The same day CPS removes the Child with Asperger’s and severe Transition problems then places him in long term Foster Care where he loses the total benefits of his IEP. Now the grandmother has fought for a year with CPS accusations of deteriorating in her Care. Finally the grandmother has proven that CPS and the Judge who ordered this did not have the Venue to go County to County removal. When my Grandson gets home hopefully by Christmas – Should the Principal and the School be liable for a Year of losing his IEP that had been great until he entered 4th Grade and (1)Teacher did not follow IEP and he started shutting down in Class? This last year = Fape? NO!

  19. My sons school has changed OT agencies at least three time over the past year. The new OT person whom I met a week ago was set up in a classroom but has no equipment. Does the agency with whom the OT works for have equipment or should the school district provide it? I’m sure there is lost time in the OT person trying to find equipment to use or as she said to me borrow from colleagues. My son has fine motor issue, balance issue, weak core…etc. Last year I won a case in mediation for his fine motor but all that was provided was a keyboard and some weighted pencils. He was authorized OT outside of school which the school was paying for, but we ran into a situation with the agency and I never took him back. I contacted our Special Ed director about this but never til this day have I heard back.

  20. School closing due to Election Day can affect speech therapy that is given normally on Tuesdays. The school was closed. Also school and classroom made up of kids not a good fit for my son. What does the law say about switching schools in the county? I’m in GA.

  21. The school refuses to put any measurable goals in an IEP for my 14 year old grand daughter who has Dyslexia and Dyscalculia. The only OT they gave her was to pull out of a main stream class and tell her to try and type 35wpm even though .she told them she could already do this. This is the tip of the iceberg as to the lack of accommodations. They have pushed her into 9th grade and she can not do the math, spell, write to take notes, et. I know there is so much she is missing out on and will miss out on in life because she will not be equipped to move forward if we can not find answers. We are signed up for a class in Grand Rapids Mi. In October, 2014. Perhaps we will find answer so we can make the school remediate before she gives up. She has endured more than I could have as a kid. She is my HERO!

  22. As a speech clinician, it’s unrealistic to tell parents to choose T,W,TH for their child’s therapy day because many holidays occur on M & F. If the student is receiving his related services on a regular basis, the student should demonstrate progress.
    When a teacher is out of the classroom, a sub is assigned to the class. When a clinician is out, there’s no sub that has the appropriate licensure and certification to deliver the mandated services. If the clinician has openings in her schedule that allow for make up sessions, then there should be no issue. Missed sessions should be made up. Unfortunately, most schedules are filled. I would love to hear from anyone working in a district that has a solid district wide plan to address this problem.

    • As a PT in the school system I would agree totally with Trish. Parents can’t choose the day/ time service is given as it depends on when the therapist is at that school and about a hundred other factors. Also true about make ups. If you have kids scheduled M through Friday, when exactly are you going to make up. I agree… if there is an extended absence then a contract should be procured but for a day here and there…. just not realistic.

      • I agree with Trish and Cathy. Worrying about a couple of missed days due to a Monday or a Friday holiday off is a nonissue compared to everything else therapists are juggling around. Therapists often have conflicts – IEP meetings, evaluations, required training, etc., that come up throughout the year. Most conflicts I see that arise between meetings, training, and therapy fall on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, anyway.

    • Are speech therapists required to make up sessions missed due to holidays? Does this vary by state? For instance in Tennessee?

      • Do teachers make up missed days due to holidays? Then “no” – you can’t make up for time that is not there.

  23. My daughter’s school did not provide PT services from Oct-Dec and part of January. Services began the middle part of January 2014. Sped teacher did not submit PT script submitted during IEP meeting in October 2014. Once service began Pt/Ot services were being given together not seperately. Is this allowed and can the services be billed as individually or documented individually meeting IEP requirements

  24. Great idea. Then you all will be whining because your child has to receive services in a group of 10 other kids. Let’s see, we can’t pull Mondays or Fridays, we can only pull during PE. Hmm.

    • Yup. I guess we just don’t do anything Mondays and Fridays since there won’t be any students scheduled. In a given year, there are maybe 4 holidays that fall on a Monday.

  25. pls clarify if school must provide makeups or a substitute teacher for when special ed teacher support personnel is absent – we do so when a para is out sick – why not for a TEACHER? SETSS is not a related service only is it? Seems like it would be core to instruction delivery or the gen ed teacher has to step up to cover? can a school use SETSS providers as substitutes for absent teachers and not provide services ot eh student with the IEP? please clarify – several of us have questtons on this… what do the regs say?

  26. Hi Lisa, I know that this comment comes late given the date you wrote this…I would pursue more accommodations–resource will help, but maybe he needs help breaking things down into smaller pieces…I am a Resource Specialist in California and work with kids like your son everyday—working in small units of content help students focus, learn, and retain.

  27. My son failed every class for two semesters on a very inadequate 504 listing preferential seating as the only accomodation. OCR took over my complaint and in their agreement with the school for resolution the districtt has to provide my son 17 yr, old, an opportunity to make up all lost credits he failed to earn for the past year. At one point after my son failed math for the 2nd time I begged his counselor for help. he referred me to tutoring agency where my son earned a 98 percent in math using his schools textbook, He my son has ADD and the district finally qualified him for special ed. services. they want to give him recource room and thats it. OCR is requiring school to pay me back the 2400.00 for tutoring services but now that ocr isnt as involved the school wont allow him any services that will help him catch up. what should I do?

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