Must Services in the IEP be Provided by a Special Ed Teacher?

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Can the school write in the IEP that the child will receive reading instruction/tutoring by a reading specialist who is not a special ed teacher?

Yes. The IDEA and federal special ed regs do not require that the services listed in the IEP must be provided by a special ed teacher. (Vote in the poll at the end of this article)

Here’s the background to the question:

My 10 year old with Downs Syndrome has made no reading progress over the last 4-5 years. A reading specialist recommended a new reading program, the school agreed. To help her catch up, we also asked for additional intensive services by this reading specialist, who would know how to implement and monitor the new program.

The school told us “she cannot have it written in the IEP for services of the reading specialist since the specialist is not a special ed teacher.”

Must the school exclude a service from the IEP, if the child will be taught/tutored by a reading specialist who is not a special ed teacher? Is that true?

No. This is not true. The IDEA and federal special ed regs do not require that the services listed in the IEP must be provided by a special ed teacher.

Most children with disabilities receive much or all of their education in regular ed classes, and are taught by regular ed teachers. The IDEA requires that the child’s IEP team include at least one regular ed teacher because . . .

The regular ed teacher knows the curriculum and what students are supposed to learn and do. With input from the regular ed teacher, the team can determine what accommodations, supplementary aids and services, and modifications the child needs to learn and make progress. (Wrightslaw: All about IEPs, page 11)

The IEP must include all special education services, related services, and supplementary aids and services the child needs, and the school will provide. (Wrightslaw: All About IEPs, page 37)

If team proposes a service but resists writing it into the IEP, you might assume they don’t really plan to provide it.

If the parent has to request mediation or a due process hearing because the promised service was not provided, the parent will not prevail because the IEP does not include it.

Politely ask for a clarification and copy of the written policy (either federal, state, or local school district) that indicates a special ed teacher is required to provide services in the IEP. If you do not get a response, write a follow-up letter with a request for the policy.

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I’m a teacher, not a parent. I’m looking for some legal information. SPED teachers miss service hours for meetings, ARDS, trainings, etc. Even though the students have a legal right to that time, it still happens. My school, however, has been pulling resource teachers to sub for the self-contained LIFE unit for students with severe disabilities. This seems like a legal concern. My student has lost two days of her service hours because of this practice. Are there any legal exceptions for a SPED teacher not meeting a student’s service hours when the student is present at school?


Legally, the fact is the IEP is not being followed since the student is receiving the service even though they are at school. The problem for parents, & educators is, how much is too much missed service? That is left up to the state education agency, hearing officer or judge to decide. Parents can request compensatory services.


I just met with my son’s IEP team and asked for some SDIs and supports to be written into goals because the goals were too vague. His case manager said he doesn’t write SDIs into goals (or anywhere on the IEP) because it limits what he can provide since then he’s legally obligated to provide what’s written.
Example goal (we have this issue with almost all of them, though): “when given an opportunity to turn in assignments, student will use an organizational system, improving assignments turn in rate from X% to X%.” I want examples of what the school is doing to instruct/guide my son in using an organizational system written into the IEP, so the school can be held accountable for providing SDI. Is this an unreasonable request? Thanks for your advice!



This is not unreasonable. The specifics of the organizational system can easily be spelling out in the summary at the beginning of the IEP (as states have different IEP platforms, I am not sure what yours is called…In Virginia we call it the “Present level of performance”) Any and all parts of the IEP are legally binding so it doesn’t need to be in the goal. Also, ask to see the data every 4 weeks that backs up the goal. This will also give you an idea of what the school is doing to help him with organization. Ask how they will track the assignment turn in rate? Ask for a copy of the “organizational” system so you can review with your son at home. This also helps you hold them accountable.

Hope this helps.



Good evening, my son has pull out resource math and in class resource science and I can not find a definition of in class resource. Can anyone help with this? This is his first year with this new science class and one of his aids from this special ed class walked him to the room and just left him. I’m really not sure this is best for him or if that’s normal. Any help is greatly appreciated, Thanks


Typically “in class support or resource” means a special ed teacher goes into the classroom at times to assist the student & teacher, &/or works with the teacher outside of the class times. You can request (in writing) how they define this term in general and in your son’s case.


My nieces’ IEP states that she should have daily ESL inclusion support but she is only receiving that support every other day. Is that ok?



That is not okay at all. If this is happening than you niece’s IEP is not being followed and her FAPE is being denied. You or her parents can request at any time for an IEP meeting to discuss any concerns you all may have and this is the time to bring up about her receiving services everyday. If you get no where you can write letters up the chain of command and even request mediation or due process hearing.


Does ESL stand for English to Speakers of other Languages? If so, that is not covered in IDEA and is not related to her IEP. You would need to speak with the ESL department. English language learning is not a disability.

Apologies in advance if ESL stands for something else.


ESL stands for English as a Second Language. Her Gen Ed. teacher should be ESL trained and certified. If the SPED personnel is also ESL certified, that’s a bonus, but not required. I’m assuming that the language “ESL inclusion support” would mean that it must be provided in an ESL classroom.


My son has a specific learning disability in reading and has had an IEP since he was in Kindergarten. He has always been in a Collaborative classroom with the regular ed teacher as well as a Special Education Teacher in all of his core classes. This year none of his classes have a Special Education Teacher in them and he is failing. When I asked his case manager about this she told me that they do not have to provide a Special Education Teacher in any of his classes because he isn’t in any classes that require an SOL. Is that true?


What does his IEP say in placement? Does it say that he is receiving collaborative services which in my school district (I realize this may be different in other areas) means that the child does not need specialized instruction for the entire segment and might even just need a paraprofessional to help keep the child on task or read assignments to the child. Where I am, co-taught means that the child requires specialized instruction from bell to bell and would be in a class with both a special education and general education teacher.


Can iep minutes designated to special education be counted if co-teaching in the general education classroom?


I guess in some ways, I can understand the response to this question – services do not have to be provided by a special education teacher. But I guess my question is this: Is the reading intervention considered a general education intervention? If so, then I don’t think it would be appropriate to include it in the IEP as it is not a special education or related service. It is a service that is provided to all students. I’m not sure about how services are set up in the original poster’s district, but in my district, any student can receive reading instruction from our reading specialist. Thus, it’s considered a general ed support and it wouldn’t be written into an IEP for a student. It’s possible that this is the case in the district for the original poster.


Hello, I am a special education teacher, but now I am general education teacher. I have two students that I never see AT ALL, yet the students are on my roster and I am listed as the teacher of record. Is this legal? I have seen their IEPs, but I do not see them or services them…they are in the special education room. Again is this legal that I am the teacher of record? When I get papers back from the special education teacher who is servicing them, for me to grade, there are not accommodations listed and I know for sure these students do not get 100 on every paper. I thought that the teacher of record is the one who actually service the students and the general education teacher is the one who helps with input on what is being taught in the classroom. What do I do?


My principal is saying that the gen Ed teacher can fill the minutes required by the iep and that special education teacher only need to give gen Ed teachers work with accommodations. Is this true?


The IEP should state who is to provide a service. If this is not clearly stated, the special ed director needs to get involved. Staff involved with a student should have access to their IEP.


Can a reading specialist provide special education pull out minutes? Or does the IEP need to specifically state who will be providing the services?


Can a Paraprofessional provide the Initial minutes of SDI or only provide supplemental instruction?


My child was given a 504 plan today but we wanted her to have an IEP. School says she doesn’t qualify because until last year she has always made good grades. She was evaluated by psychologist we took her to and another one court ordered and was found to have severe anxiety disorder. This prevents my child from asking her teacher anything at all even if she needs help understanding the work. It also created a wall for her to such degree as she would physically be sick and hives at thought of going. I feel she should have some individualized instruction she was failed last year because she couldn’t catch up. That alone has been a back step in social and academic learning . Please help


Your state parent training & information center will be familiar with the federal and state rules, and can assist you.


Arizona is changing a law about who can provide Specialized Instruction. Now saying any “Certified ” person can.


In my school district, additional supportive services in the IEP can be provided by a paraprofessional. This is great for my child with executive functioning issues who just needs an adult to help with initiation, planning and organization. The paraprofessional also provides services such as reading the test to the children with reading disorders. So I would say,no, the services don’t always need to be provided by a SPED teacher.


Is there a law or regulation that defines what special ed “staff” is? Who can provide services to my child. If a person makes copies for the special ed department then they could technically be sped staff .


The state or school district would be the one who might define this term. In most districts the person you describe would be “special ed staff”, if paid for by special ed funds.


Thank you for the response. It says in IDEA and our state site (Georgia) that the IEP must be served by a “highly Qualified” teacher . It then goes on to describe this as one who has a special ed certificate among other things. It also defines that other providers may serve the student such as persons who provide therapies. I am asking because there was a situation with a long term substitute who was not sped certified.


Often states have rules about the use of staff who is not “highly qualified”. Sometimes parents have the right to ask that their child be changed to another teacher. If a child is making limited progress, a parent could ask that additional services be provided to their child. Find out what the district policy says, & write to the special ed director.


Can someone please post a link or the IDEA section that tells us that a gen ed teacher can provide a service that gets listed in the child’s iep. I will need this for a meeting as I was just told a gen ed teacher’s service cannot be written into my son iep.


I just sent a written request to the school asking them to please tell us who is who in our IEP. My son doesn’t seem to have a clue who he’s working with day to day. He keeps telling us he worked with a “para” today – odd thing is, the school nor state has any listed as being employed by/at the school – further mind boggling – there is no mention of our child working with a paraprofessional in our iep, but now i noticed it says “ADULT;” wonder if that would included the janitor or Fedex guy… Suddenly it all seems rather vague.


Ask the principal & special ed office in writing the position(s) of the staff working directly with your child. You can request an IEP meeting. Despite who is working with him, do you feel that the goals, & objectives are appropriate, & is he making progress?