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.