When Teachers Won’t Provide Accommodations in the IEP

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My child has language-based learning disabilities and fine motor problems that make it impossible for him to produce legible written work. His IEP includes accommodations to help with these problems. Some of his regular education teachers won’t provide these accommodations. What can I do?

If regular education teachers are not implementing the accommodations in your child’s IEP, you need to document this. A good strategy is to write short polite letters to people in authority. Begin by writing a polite letter to the principal. Describe the problem and ask for his help.

Your letter should be factual, not emotional. Do not blame or portray your child as a victim.

Your First Letter

Dear Mr. Principal:

As you know, my son Rob has severe language based learning disabilities and fine motor problems. He is unable to produce legible written work. As a result of these disabilities, his IEP states that he will receive accommodations, including X and Y and Z.

Some of Rob’s regular education teachers are not providing the accommodations in his IEP. I have talked to them but nothing changed. I need help.

I’d like to schedule an appointment to talk with you. My work phone number is 888-123-4567. My home number is 888-765-4321 after 6 p.m.


Marie Parent

Moving Up the Ladder

Assume nothing changes.

Move up the bureaucratic ladder to the next person in authority. Write a letter that describes the problem and your attempts to resolve it. Attach copies of the other letters you wrote to school personnel.

Dear Ms. Special Education Director:

Two weeks ago, I wrote a letter to Mr. Principal. I advised him that my son’s regular education teachers are not providing the accommodations in his IEP. I asked for his help in getting the teachers to implement the accommodations.

When I met with him, I had the sense that his hands are tied. I’m turning to you for help.


Marie Parent

Your Next Step – Taking Action

Continue up the ladder to decision-makers with more power – the Superintendent and school board members.

If the problem continues and you need to take action –- to request a due process hearing or a file a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights – your polite factual letters will be excellent evidence. You advised several school authorities about the problem in writing. You asked for help. No one stepped up to the plate.

Under those circumstances, even Ms. Manners would take them to court.

  1. Can a child that has been served under autism for years start school without an IEP? We took our District to court. In settlement, it states child gets a new IEP. School started and we do NOT have an IEP. Can a special needs child legally start school without the IEP? She is in a new school – per settlement with district but we do not have an IEP. Can she legally start school without an IEP?
    Thank you

    • If the school (or you) don’t have or approve a new IEP, isn’t the old IEP still in effect? I believe that is the case in California. It’s called a “Stay Put.” So, if the old IEP is better for the school or district, they most likely won’t want a new IEP or will put a meeting off as long as possible. If there ever was an IEP, there isn’t not an IEP. (Hope this makes sense.)

    • It’s in you and your child’s best interest to ALWAYS have a iep in place and for it to be followed. There is no way to hold them legally accountable otherwise.!

  2. My school laid off staff which resulted in accommodations as listed on his IEP are not being provided. When I asked how they could get around their accountability to the State, I was told that they would need to “re-word or change their reports”. I have been documenting my requests that they follow the IEP and provide ALL accommodations as listed. They refuse. I understand they can request changes to his IEP, but have not done so. I understand they can request a “waiver” from the State but part of that process requires letters to be sent to each and every parent of a child affected. None of us parents have received any letters. What is our next step? Already, day #5, I was asked to pick up my son from school due to “sickness”. He suffers from a long list of ailments associated with anxiety, of which, his IEP does address.

  3. RE: High School Student Refuses to Use Accommodations

    This subject has come up a few times in conversations and some PPT meetings. School personnel should not force a high school student to use accommodations. That puts the student and the staff in a difficult position. The issues is that the student agree to the accommodation and/or is the accommodation working for the student in the class setting. Even if a provision was in place to require a student to comply–what message does that send to a high school student who is daily facing the issues with a disability. The goal is more or less, not compliance, but helping the student look at how accommodations are useful. Some students may want to look at alternate accommodations–Developmental, students change and so should the accommodations.

    • Help! My son’s private school wants to take an accommodation off his IEP because my son refuses to use. Can they force a meeting and just have it removed from the IEP?

      Thanks in advance.

      • Lori,
        If the school wants to meet with you to go over your sons IEP accommodations than they must contact you to arrange for the meeting. They also cannot just change the IEP with out your input and permission. What you should do is ask your son why does not want to use his accommodation? just talk to him so that you gat a feel for what he is feeling. He may be embarrassed that he needs the extra help. Remind him that the accommodations are there to help him succeed.

        • Yes, work with your son..empower your child to make some decisions. I involved my child in decision making early –especially when it came to AT and accommodations. My child was very embarrassed to use a computer(AT) in the classroom. No other students were using computers in the classroom. He made other decisions but also attended AT conferences and centers to gain knowledge on AT for his disaiblity. Teachers also accommodated and had some great ideas to accommodate and it all worked out well. I listened to my child–may not have always agreed–but compromises came and he was very successful using AT and accommodations as he “owned” the choices.” High school teachers helped to track my child into college using AT and followed college models for disaiblity services.

  4. The reason for him being able to use his notes and etc, was because he was home bound for over 60 days for the first semester.He came back 4 days before semester exams. He had to have surgery, and plus healing process etc. Usually his IEP is not this flexible. The only thing he had before his surgery is an extra day to turn work in, and to go to smaller group for testing. Although since he was not in school and had no instructional time for these classes, we as an ARD committee felt, that it was in the best interest for my son to allow notes to be used. Usually he takes test without any help what soever. Guess I should have put that in there. So yes you are correct that mommy will not always be there. Although in this situation mommy is here, and will be his advocate on this certain situation.

  5. This particular discussion feed is interesting as I was thinking the other day as my child is in middle school. I backed off a few things and allowed less modifications as my dyslexic child plans to go to college. It worked for her. She, with fewer accommodations, has become more independent and a strong advocate for herself. Yes, she has dealt with some difficult teachers, but they respect her perseverance. My role is to support her in her efforts but I do not call teachers everything I sense an issue with the IEP. Instead, I am letting her take the reigns. With older struggling readers, I think we have to teach them to become advocates. I am just thinking ahead to the future as mommy will not be around forever..she is plowing through the educational system better with less modifications and doing well.

  6. Son came to me after school, he stated to me that he asked Coach if he could take his review with him to take semester test. Coach stated no I want to see what you can do on your own. This is unacceptable and against his ARD from 10/19/11. I am furious at this time, not only did he not get to use his notes for Biology, he now was denied use of his notes, review, book for World Geography. How can you deny him of this when it is in his ARD? It really does not matter what Coach feels or wants.This is why we have ARDs in place. What was done today is against the rules….

    The ARD meeting on 10/19/11 states he will be allowed to take all test and quizzes in CM classroom, also utilize notes, study guides/ reviews and or textbook during these assessments until the end of the first semester.

  7. If your school fails to comply, you can contact the Office of Civil Rights at ed.gov and they will get on it. The problem is they will fail to keep up with it. I just started a law suite. This is the only way to make them listen. They receive over 9,000.00 per year to do their joy. Most teachers don’t know the first thing about an iep.

  8. I am a teacher currently being told by my principal to teach in a tiering system. However, my students are inclusion, two teacher in class resource, meaning one sped teacher and one general ed teacher for all academics during the day. However with this new tiering system, the classified students are now either going to be mainstreamed into reading classes for 120 minutes a day, or held with me as self contained. Either way this seems to me to be a violation of their IEP’s. Please advise how to proceed, as this has been deemed that I am trying to cause waves rather than being an advocate for my students.

  9. Amy – The school cannot make a unilateral decision on an IEP without the team and when they make comments like that they must put it in a prior written notice. Either they will or they will back down. It sounds a little like bullying to me. If you disagree with a placement of a child you can reconvene the team and discuss it. If you absolutely cannot agree than you can say so right on the IEP and they must respond with a prior written notice. At that point you can discuss alternatives with an advocate, family physician/psychologist or as a last resort an attorney. Hopefully it does not come to this. Usually there is always a compromise.

  10. My child’s school is telling me if I don’t send her to this behavior school that my child’s IEP Plan will be taken because I will be going against what they feel is best for the child. Legally can an IEP plan be taken away cause you disagree with placement of your child?

  11. Tasha – You will need to request the test you want in writing and get it to the school. AFter that you need to sign the school’s paperwork for the testing and then they have to get it done in 60 days. You can get together with the administrators in the summer to sign the paperwork and sign the paper to exempt the regular ed teacher since by their contract they do no have to come to a meeting in the summer. Once you get the school’s paperwork signed since they have 60 days school will be in session anyway. Once you get the results of the test and if you do not agree you can request an outside evaluation at the school’s expense. You only have to tell them you do not agree. The school must consider the results of the outside evaluation but do not have to incorporate them.

  12. I called the school board and told them that her Dr is requesting a CAP testing be done and her 3 year reivluation. She is on an IEP and has ADHD and they think she has a Auto processing problem. She told me that her ADHD will effect the testing and they cant do it till school starts and she meets with the team and see if they agree she needs it done. She also said they dont do a whole lot more for CAP then they do for ADHD. I was wondering how true this is and if they are just trying to get out of it. She also said it is a long test and she doubts she will sit through it all. Thanks!

    • I had to get NYS Disability Rights lawyer to get my son CAP testing and accomidations. IT is not a long test, approximately half an hour. AS the results and reccommendations must be considered by the CSE. The tests are expensive along with any equipment needed for the child. They dont want to foot the cost but it is their obligation

  13. My son is 10 years old with Diabetes and a 504! His numbers were too high to test for the ELA’s and the school is telling me there’s only one day for makeups! They give the test at 830 and 1200. Both times aren’t good number-wise for my son ever so shouldn’t they be giving him the test at a time where he’ll be ok to take them or makeup when his numbers are correct. My school is saying “one day makeup and it’s at 12pm today so if he can’t take it then “OH well!” What the hell do I do?

  14. We live in a challenging district. June 2010 my daughter was dx with Aspergers (6 yrs old, by 3 doctors, one at Children’s Mercy developmental and behavioral dept, experts on Aspergers. Our school denied an IEP request in couple days & compared against her Pre-K class (she did well (only area she’s done well, 6 weeks half day, structured and spec ed teachers(also honeymoon period) )3 teachers/7 students, unlike a “normal” class. Parts of the IEP eval made no sense, & some paragraphs conflicted with others. At the end summary, they said she would benefit from a plan, however, once again, they denied it, despite those words saying she would benefit from it. I’ve been patiently waiting this year and her teacher just said she has problems with social skills and has asked the counselor about the possibility of a social group,What now?

  15. IEP are to be followed starting day one of school. I stop by the second week of school and spend 5-10 minuets in each class. I get a feel for the teacher and see if the accommodations are in place. If not I write a letter to the Special Ed Office and make them aware of the problem. I ask my child everyday if they received a new accommodation. If the answer is no- make more more complaint. Then if you contact the ed.gov ask for the office of Civil Rights, tell them your child is being denied a FAPE, they are on it in days. I had to do this and the school got a letter in three days. They are bending over to assist in making sure all is correct. They dropped the ball. Do not mess around with the districts games, They allow them self to much time frame, but the time you have appealed each step, school is over with.

  16. Today, I was told via email by the teacher that my child was punished because my daughter didn’t turn her assignment in ON TIME.
    Her IEP clearly states: Extended Time for Completing Assignments.
    We responded, “We talked about this at her recent IEP meetings, a lot. We also talked about this at her IEP meeting in October, a lot. It is listed on her IEP as an accommodation to be given.”
    The teacher’s emailed response back, “I am aware of her IEP, and it clearly states that she has “Exteded Time for Completing Assignments”.”

    We already have in a request for an IEE, because her test scores were all over the place (even the cognitive) and way different than last year’s assessments. They say she has “Auditory Processing Disorder” but said an evaluation by a certified audiologist isn’t needed as” we get the general idea.”

  17. I have a problem with the School System my child attends, the teachers constantly refuse to follow the IEP. I have climbed the latter numerous time and have even had to go to the school board numerous times reguarding this. each time Im promised it wont happen again. Then the next year I run into a teacher who states my child could do the work if he could and calls him just lazy. My child compensates well and on casual appearance appears to have no problems. And we are always very successful when the IEP is followed. He has Dyslexia, and multiple other learning disabilities. Im so tired of going through this numerous times a year. Now he failed math and the teacher didnt contact me, the secial ed department etc and it was found out didnt even follow his IEP. When I found he was failing I called and Ard but she went ahead and inputed his grad.

  18. Teresa, If the school does not clearly follow the IEP they must put in writing in a “prior written notice” as to why. Also many times IEP’s are written so vaguely that it does not specifically state who will provide services and when. If this is the case you need to get that changed and again if they say no they need to put it in writing as to why. Keep at it. This is important to your child. One thing I do is tape record the meetings with a digital tape recorder so that I don’t forget anything. I always tell the team I am going to bring the tape recorder so they know. Usually the meetings go better with this. If you have an advocate that will help also. You may hire an attorney as a last resort.

  19. My son has not been receiving individualized special education social skills training as defined in his IEP. I called a special meeting and the special ed teacher told me that she did not have time to do independent sessions with him and that she would get someone else to do it. It has been several months since that meeting. My son says he has not had anyone talk to him or teach him how to deal with the kids bullying him at school, i.e. the reason for the additional accommodation. However, the school guidance counselor tells me that he has had three sessions. I believe my son to be truthful, but the school is saying he is receiving help in this area. My son swears he is not. He says that he has been pulled out of PE and spent the hour in the office one time, but was not told how to handle dealing with the bullying.

  20. Should an IEP mtg. be void if an extra school psychologist attends that was not on the list of attendees?Autism teacher called and had a 5 minute conversation with me on 8-23-10.On 9-10-10 I received a copy of son’s IEP hidden in his backpack by his teacher.The effective date had changed from 4-1-10 to 8-23-10.It also stated that a team meeting took place on 8-23-10 & that I was part of the phone conference. At no time did anyone invite me to a meeting. Nor was I told I was part of a phone conference. The school did a similar thing to another parent of an autistic child.Only on her copy of the IEP it stated that they contacted her and she refused to attend. What is the best way to respond.There have been too many issues with this county and someone needs to kow about it.

    • Dawn – you’re obviously concerned about “the issues” – does sound like odd things going on. But don’t get off track. Bring your focus back to your child and getting the program that your child needs to progress in the curriculum and prepare him to move to the next grade. Is the IEP you have appropriate to his needs? If not, you may need to request another meeting to review and revise as needed. (I wouldn’t worry about “voiding” a previous meeting.)

      IDEA has specific provisions about team makeup, ensuring parent participation, inviting “others” to the meeting, notifying parents who will attend, annual IEP review, changes/amendments without a meeting, etc. 20 U.S.C. 1414 (d) and regulations beginning at 300.320. Your response? Go through these sections carefully so you know exactly what the law says. Write a polite letter to the school, detailing all of your concerns as you began in your comment. You’ll find IDEA backs up your concerns, but you’ll be a lot better off if you don’t take the “I’m going to getcha” approach. Use the “help me understand – I thought this is what IDEA says” approach to work with the team to keep the focus on your child.

  21. I am on the other end of this problem. I am a teacher in the second week of school and still don’t know what children receive accommodations or what those accommodations are. I have asked (and kept those emails), but still have nothing. How soon are we supposed to be supplied with this information. Shouldn’t it be before school starts?

  22. Jill – Is this IB class a special temporary class or something that the state requires? Check your IEP to see if there is a statement regarding …”regular state required, normal school year program,etc”. I doubt this is in there so any class that your child participates in would require the school to provide the writtng accommodations as written by law. Reconvene an IEP meeting to discuss and get this taken care of. That would be the place to start.

  23. What happens when a teacher will not make accomodations in an International Baccalaureate (IB) class? My daughter needs extended time due to ADHD, yet the teacher says that those accommodations do not apply in IB classes.

    • Jill,

      If your daughter has an Iep which I assume she does then the teacher needs to make those accommodations. If not she is not in compliance and she could be in a world of trouble. I would contact the school and get to the bottom of the issue.

  24. Jessica -The IDEA/IDEIA law holds everyone on the IEP accountable for a child’s progress. If anyone on the team does not follow the IEP they are in default. The issue is that many parents need help in knowing how to determine and get evidence to prove that team members are not following the IEP. We have learned that many times IEP’s are written vaguely to allow for fudge factor on the part of the school. Wright’s Laws books can help you with that. There are support groups out there with advocates that can help. (LDA, CHADD, IDA, etc). We belong to the LDA (Learning Disablitie’s Assocation) which has many resources to help parents advocate for their child.

  25. I know of a case in my community in which a child with autism was supposed to be able to leave the room if he got upset, and go to see the special ed teacher he liked. When another teacher wouldn’t let him leave, he started yelling, and possibly pushing a little. A criminal charge was filed, and his mother pleaded guilty on his behalf to spare him the process. That was probably a big error, I know. Can anything be done to hold the teacher accountable? Does the advice on this page fit?

  26. Does accommodation for student to receive copy of notes mean that if there is computer access that he can get it himself? I thought if the iep STATES COPY OF NOTES that means all classes should hand copy of notes to student? Where can I read more about this?

  27. My 8th grade son is in the resource room for math and now english. He has accommodations and modifications in his regular ed classes. Not all of the accommodations written in the IEP are being used. The teachers are choosing what they want. Not what is written. Also the resource teacher has refused to use some of the accommodations/modifications because she said the resource classes are already modified from the regular Ed classes. Where do we stand ? What do we do?

  28. My 14 year old daughter is in 9th grade. She has congenital cerebellar hypoplasia which affects her gross and fine motor skills. She is in regular education classes with a co-teacher. Her handwriting is very slow and tedious making it impossible for her to take her own notes. Her IEP states that she is to be provided a copy of notes which her teachers have not provided. I have just left a meeting with her teacher and was told that even though her IEP says she is to receive notes, if they do not provide notes for all the students, it would give her an undue advantage to provide them for her, so they are not required to provide them. Is this true? I need advice on how to proceed. Thank you.

  29. What if you didn’t do it quite this way and it’s gone past this point. I did not send formal letters. I’ve sent emails. I tried to have an IEP meeting about my daughter’s situation, but it ended up being more of a “joke”. I ended up in tears. My daughter’s diagnosis is: MR, on the Autism Spectrum, with other pervasive disorders and she is type II diabetic. The Stress of main stream classes that they demanded she take drove her blood sugars up very high. I could not keep the emotion out of some of my emails… I do have several. She has had to be treated for bladder infections 3x in 60 days now. (lack of water drinking at school). I feel I need to take this to the next level (due process). She is not attending school at this time and does not want to return.

  30. At the HS level what can/should be done about a child who declines or flat out refuses to utilize an accomodation that is offered by the teachers? Is there some provision in place that can require a student to comply if the student is not yet 18yrs? over 18yrs?

  31. I understand your grandson has CP but specifically
    WHY does he need 1:1 assistance? Is it for physical safety? To help with mobility? Help with daily living skills? Help in the bathroom? To stay focus. My son has multiple disabilities ( spastic quad CP included) 1:1 all day aid has never been questioned as a need. I try to try to minimize the 1:1 as much as possible. They do his work and he gets marked off for their spelling errors) and he loses the ability to be as independent as possible.
    1:1 assistance is a double edge sword. The kids no longer talk to him but to the aid( his hearing is acute),He is in 7th grade.

  32. My grandson has CP and is in kindergarden and is 7 years old. His special ed. teacher thinks he would benefit from a personal aide or parapro and his regular ed teacher agrees, but the director or special services for his school district does not agree and said no to this discussion is in his IEP. Then his special ed teacher said she thought he would benefit in a smaller classroom and suggested that he go to another new school that is opening this fall. This class would have only 4 students the class he will be in this fall will have 10. We had to ask the principle of the new school for permission and was denied. My grandson is capable of learning, but his educational needs are not being met at this time, so being in a bigger class in the fall is not going to be any better. What is the next thing we can do?

  33. What about accommodations on High School exit exams? I have heard through several parents that even though accommodations are documented in IEP’s and medical reports that because tests like ACT are private firms that don’t take government money, they don’t have to provide ADA/IEP accommodations.
    What can a parent do to assure that their student receives the accommodations they need?

  34. Are public schools obligated to pay for a private school for dyslexic students if the school cannot provide the an effective education? Thanks

  35. Unfortunately, this situation arises often. Often I hear that a parent believes accommodations are not being followed, but the teacher says they are using them. Sometimes they will not share samples of the accommodations or their examples & explanations do not follow the intent of the accommodations.

    Sometimes the issue goes back to the IEP team not clearly defining how an accommodation is to be done &/or the school not adequately training teachers. “Give more time for tests & school work” is not real clear.

  36. Thanks for your comment Wrightlaw, we are currently working together. I plan to ask for a Independant Unbais test to be conducted by a outside source at his transition meeting. The problem is I don’t have a lot of money and not sure what to do if this isn’t provided by the school.

    • Rusty:

      I see you live in Australia. The special ed laws are similar in the US, UK, Australia, Canada but not identical. In the US, if a parent disagrees with the school’s evaluation, or if the school refuses to evaluate, the parent can request an “Independent Educational Evaluation” (IEE) at school district expense. This is one of several “procedural safeguards” designed to protect the rights of children with disabilities and their parents.

      If the school does not want to grant the IEE, they must request a due process hearing and the judge or hearing officer must decide whether to permit the IEE. Schools rarely take this step because the cost of a hearing is much greater than the cost of an evaluation. You need to find out if parents in Australia have a right to an independent educational evaluation (although it may be called something else).

  37. Labels are not useful in developing educational plans for a child. You, his mother, and the school need to know his strengths, weaknesses and educational needs. You will get this information in a comprehensive psycho-educational evaluation from a psychologist or educational diagnostician in the private sector.

    Can you and his mother work together to get this done?

  38. My son was labeled cognitive disorder in the first grade and now he is finishing 4th grade. They relize now he doesn’t have cognitive disorder and want to call it a learning disorder now. I’m not convinced he has any disorder at all and now his mother wants to hold him back even though he has passing grades. He is moving to another school after this year and his transition meeting is coming up soon. What can I do?

  39. Dont’ forget about the WV case where a teacher, who was also in the State legislature, was held financially responsible for failing and refusing to provide a student with testing accommodations. I think the title is Doe v. Withers at https://www.wrightslaw.com/info/damag.doe.withers.htm

    When I first read that ruling, it bolstered my determination to push back when teachers became uncooperative or recalcitrant. The case is a Section 1983 ruling, which I understand may be difficult to prove. However, this one was proved and, SHAZAM, Mr. Withers was hit hard and heavy, and rightfully so. Okay, off my soap box now…

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