New Policy or Regulation for IEPs? Ask for a Written Copy!

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Is your school district or the IEP team quoting policy or regulation that you’ve never heard of before or don’t understand? Actually, here are several that I’d like to see myself.

1. I just came from an IEP meeting for my nephew who is also dyslexic. To my great surprise I was just informed that they are prohibited from putting Orton Gillingham on the IEP. My nephew currently is receiving Orton Gillingham one on one for decoding and it is not written on his IEP. When I questioned why they were not writing it down as a service for him for next year that is the response I received.

They said not to worry that he will get the service for now but they are not allowed to write it down on his IEP.

Did you ever hear of such a thing and is this a law? When did this come into effect and again how as parents are we not informed that changes as such are being made? I can imagine on how this would effect a parents right to sue the district if the service is not allowed on an IEP then it doesn’t exist as far as the law goes when you go to fight the district in question.

A law? Illegal to put into the IEP?

I doubt it.

Ask for a copy of the statute or regulation or other written document / authority that prohibits putting it into the IEP.

2. I am a professional in special education. My school district tells me that there is some kind of rule/law/regulation that 90% of each school’s students in special education must be in regular education classes 80% of the time. Is this accurate?

Nope. If you want to pursue it, you might want to ask to see a copy of that rule/law/policy.

I bet you will never see it. If you do, please email it. I’d like to see it myself.

IDEA 2004 and the federal implementing regulations are the authority for what the school is required to do for IEPs. 

You will want to have a copy of your own, learn the requirements, then ask the school to show you where they found the authority in IDEA.

Legal Requirements for IEPs

Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition,
20 U.S.C. Section 1414(d), page 99.

Print Book & PDF Combo Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition

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  1. Can Reading Specialist only certified in Elementary education with a master’s degree in Reading k-12 teach Reading to a self-contained class of 13 students with only an aide and no special education teacher present? I have no special education background other than remediating reading.

  2. I have a question regarding parental counseling.

    A few months ago, I attended a conference with a parent whose child was labeled Emotionally Disabled, and the services of a 1:1 crisis intervention para awarded. At that time, I requested parental counseling for the mother who is struggling with three emotionally disturbed children and has difficulty carrying through on the various behavioral techniques that each child requires. The request was denied at the district level, so I advised mom to request mediation.

    At mediation, parental counseling was once again denied, although I showed where it is listed in IDEA. In New York State, where I live, the Part 200 regulations are the state’s interpretation of IDEA. The district representative at the mediation hearing showed us where the Part 200 regulations state that parental counseling can only be awarded in cases where the child is in a self-contained class. The child in question is in mainstream education with a good deal of support (occupational therapy, speech/language therapy, counseling, 1:1 crisis intervention para, resource room services).

    From Section 300.34:

    (i) Parent counseling and training means assisting parents in understanding the special needs of their child;
    (ii) Providing parents with information about child development; and
    (iii) Helping parents to acquire the necessary skills that will allow them to support the implementation of their child’s IEP or IFSP.

    If the state is limiting who can receive parental counseling by using program placement as a guide, are they not in violation of IDEA if the school psychologist, psychiatrist, and other personnel who deal with the child on a regular basis all support the need for such intervention?

    I am ready to go for an impartial hearing to get this service, but I would like to know if I am barking up the wrong tree. My feeling is that the Part 200 regulations are out of step with what IDEA states. Please advise me.



  3. Pam,

    You asked me to report to you after I wrote the district regarding their attorney’s statement she would “be outside the door.” We wrote the business-like letter you recommended to the district regarding their policy on this and we received a response from the attorney rather that the district saying that she will defer to us in regard to being in the room, but she insists it is gray area per mediation process when the a parent is an attorney and has an advocate per OAH. (We were never discussing mediation with her but she draws a parallell to this). She also insists that since the district is represented by her, we may no longer correspond with the district anymore… Is this possible??? She also states she intends to be at the district offices during the resolution session (although not in the room at this time.) Help!

  4. Pam,
    I just read my previous response and see I did not answer your question. We filed for due process Hearing.

  5. Pam,

    Thank you for responding. We have filed a due process claim and have not had a response and we are on the 11th day. We are not represented by an ed lawyer, but my husband is a business lawyer. Our Area Board advocate is assisting us too. What to do??? It appears that many district’s attorneys are not responding on time and no one is doing anything…I have a resolution meeting on Monday and believe it would be helpful to see the district’s response in order to resolve. (Also we have the right to see it…) This is the same lawyer who demands to be in resolution session or out the door. She says since my husband is an atty and we have an advocate, why wouldn’t the district get the same thing???

  6. Lyn: You say you filed a complaint. Did you request a due process hearing or did you file a complaint with the state? Are you represented by an attorney?

    Do nothing for now.

  7. Lyndi: I assume the resolution session is scheduled because you requested a due process hearing. Write a polite business-like letter that describes what the school attorney told you, your understanding of what the law requires, the chilling effect of the attorney’s statement that, regardless of what the law says, she “will be outside the door.”

    The purpose of the resolution session is to provide parents and schools with an opportunity to resolve complaints before a due process hearing. The resolution sessions gives parents an opportunity to discuss their complaints with “relevant members of the IEP team,” including “a representative of the LEA who has decision-making authority.”

    Because attorneys tend to have a negative impact on communication and problem solving, the law specifically states that the resolution session “may not include an attorney of the local education agency unless the parent is accompanied by an attorney.” If you have a copy of Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, you can copy the text of the statute into your letter (page 113). Also read the comments about the resolution session.

    Ask the decision-maker to clarify the school’s position and the school board attorneys’ role at the resolution session so you know what to expect.

    Please let us know how this turns out. ~ Pam

  8. We have filed against our district on behalf of our son and have not received a response to our complaint and it has been 11 days… What do we do? Can we file for default or compel them to respond?

  9. I was told in an IEP this week by the district’s lawyer that she would see us next week in our resolution meeting. We said per IDEA we would not be seeing her since lawyers could not be present in a resolution meeting. She said that since my husband was a lawyer she could attend and that I had an advocate with us so the district deserved to be represented…We said that we were not represented by an attorney and therefore she could not come. She said then she will be outside the door…WOW! Has anyone seen such abrasive behavior.

  10. K.P: You say the school has a policy to note who will be responsible for specific services in the IEP. You ask, “How can a parent, family or child be expected to implement goals at school?”

    I don’t know your situation. You didn’t say what the school wants to put in the IEP that you object to so I don’t know if this is reasonable. But we all know that education happens in places other than the school – especially in the community and at home.

    In some cases, parents agree to work on the child’s IEP goals at home. We often see this in cases of young children with autism when the child needs 40+ hours of therapy a week. ~ Pam

  11. I have a related question. My district says it is their policy to add language in the goals, under the category of persons responsible for implementing the goals, the language:

    “teachers, district personnel, student, parents, family”

    How can a parent, family or child be expected to implement goals at school? I have refused to aggree to such language. They are refusing to take it out of the goals based on the language being “policy.” What are my options?

  12. The problem with requests for IEP meetings is that federal regulations do not require schools to hold meetings. They must give the parent a notice of refusal to take specific actions. The key is to know what your state rules, court decisions, etc. say. In Texas, state rules say that the school must either hold an IEP meeting when the parent requests, or request a due process hearing to show why a meeting is not needed. Different states have different rules.
    In regards to comment #1, my guess is that a school attorney has told the school not to list specific methodologies, since federal regulations do not require this. If a specific methodology is listed, then the school is locked into that.
    In regards to comment #2, my guess is that the district is trying to deal with LRE. The DOE (Dept. of Education) is putting pressure on states to decrease the number of students in more restrictive special ed settings. Some states are then putting varying amounts of pressure on schools to increase the amount of time that students with disabilities are in regular classes. The %’s mentioned may be coming from the state or the school, but the pressure is probably coming from the state. In some states a school’s rating by the state can be affected by an inclusion standard that the state has set (this is the case in TX).

  13. Ron: There are several reasons why school staff believe they have to limit parental contact. Sometimes, they think parents are over-protective, so the child won’t learn to do things for herself. Some parents *are* over-involved – “helicopter parents” are always hovering. Some teachers complain that parents are a distraction in the classroom. It sounds like your situation is different. Your child is only three years old. She has been diagnosed with ASD so you probably worry even more than most parents – and parents are famous for worrying. .
    Try to help the teacher understand your concerns about your daughter – that since she is diagnosed with ASD, you want to make sure she’s okay. This is normal protective parent behavior. If you don’t get a positive response from this teacher, maybe your child will have a different teacher next year. Try to get off on the right foot with the new teacher at the beginning of the year by writing a description of your daughter, her needs, strengths, weaknesses, your concerns – and offer to help.

  14. I have a 3 year old daughter diagnosed with ASD. The principal requested that I meet with her and my daughter’s special needs teacher. At the meeting, she discussed protocols to be observed at the school. I get along with everyone, volunteer at a local abuse shelter, and child rape advocacy organization, etc. I am in the process of using an advocate to get what my daughter deseves from the school district. I am concerned the principal wants to limit my contact with my daughter (retaliation, which is commonplace in this county) since I drop off my daughter, assist her with putting her things away and pick her up each day. Do you have any suggestions as to how i can protect myself?

  15. Sheryl: School districts believe they have to protect themselves from litigation. This belief is stronger in some districts than others. This belief and fear of litigation is not limited to school districts – you will find the same mindset in many organizations and companies.

    You need to focus your energy on your second question – how to get the school to provide the help your child needs. Quality special education services are expensive, especially for a child with complex needs. Pete and I have written dozens, probably hundreds of articles on this subject. We finally wrote a book, From Emotions to Advocacy (does the title make sense now?), to help parents learn the skills they need to be effective advocates for their children. Read some of the parent advocacy articles on Wrightslaw – you need to develop a game plan.

    Alicia: Your son is in 2nd grade and he still hasn’t learned to read. Although the teachers give him passing grades, he can’t pass the test he needs to move on. It does not sound like anyone has a plan to teach him to read. He doesn’t have any more time to waste.

    Read the posts and comments on this post – “Fifth grader is reading at 2.7 grade level.”

    Several teachers who are trained to teach reading offer good advice. Also read the articles about reading in “Doing Your Homework” by Sue Whitney Heath.
    Sue helps parents decide what to do when they are in your shoes.

    Lisa: Yes, this is a good time to politely but firmly ask to see where the law says an IEP cannot include supplemental services, and where the law requires “underlying skills” in IEPs.
    In addition to asking questions, it’s *very important* for you to put your questions in writing – in a letter to the school. You can also ask for the “policy.” But policy does not trump the law. ~ Take care, Pam

  16. We were also told by our School District that supplementary programs cannot be named in the IEP. The reason stated was that the IEP had to target “underlying skills”. The District did say that supplementary programs could be mentioned in the Present Level of Performance (PLOP) section or the Functional Performance section (aren’t these part of the IEP?). I can see where pressing for written policy is a good idea.

  17. My son was tested this year for dyslexia. He is 504 now. He is in 2nd grade and his DRA is 18 which you have to have a 24 to pass. His grades are all above passing and I have a problem with the assessments test being the determining factor if he gets to go to 3rd grade. I want to know if this is mandatory or if there is something I can do about it. He is already an October baby which puts him top of his class age wise already. He has been visiting a reading specialist for 2yrs now and tutoring outside of school. He has improved but I need some advise please.

  18. Why is school district only willing to protect itself from due process? Why or how can we make the issue about giving a special needs child the right to the education they deserve? My child is 9 yrs. old, she is non verbal with limited hand use. She is not given an opportunity to have a pencil so to speak or an augmentive communication system that allows her to communicate. They insist she is not ready for one. Sheryl

  19. This practice worked for me when I was told that parents couldn’t call for an IEP meeting. I pulled out my nifty Wrightslaw copy of the federal special education laws and asked where it appeared.

    The response was “well, I don’t know the exact one but…” Months later, the same person confirmed to me that I could call for an IEP meeting anytime I wanted one — and I have.

    Asking to see a copy of the rule/law/policy is one of my favorite practices for problem-solving.

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