Who Can Override an IEP?

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The IEP team, including the parents, agreed that a student would receive homebased instruction for  part of the day for instruction in academic  subjects.  He would attend vocational courses at the school the rest of the day.  The school division superintendent decided to override the IEP team placement. Can he do that?

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act states that all decisions about a child’s special education program and placement are  made by the IEP team. Period.

The law does not provide for another individual, including a supervisor or superintendent, to overrule decisions made by the IEP team. Despite this, it is not unusual for a principal or superintendent to try to overrule decisions made by the IEP team.

Legal Requirements for IEPs

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

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What are the superintendent’s objections? Why did he “override” the IEP team?

If you know the basis of his objection (fear or concern), you may be able to reassure him.

Meeting the Child’s Needs

The IEP should be based on the student’s unique needs. If the IEP team decides that the IEP you describe meets this child’s unique needs, the child can receive homebound instruction for academics, and attend vocational courses for part of the day.

It sounds like the placement decision by the IEP team was an effort to re-engage the student to return to school to complete his education and receive his IEP diploma.

  • Are there specific, measurable goals included in the IEP?
  • Is there a plan for the student to return school at a later date?

If the superintendent is successful in overturning the team’s plan, I doubt this boy will ever receive a diploma. Perhaps this is why the law does not allow decisions to be made for “administrative  convenience.”

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Carol

According to the USDOE they tell me that nothing trumps the IEP, including the College Board,, ACT and the ib (International baccalaureate program). The FLDOE says that they can. My son has received his accommodations from both the College Board and ACT with few questions asked. However, the ib has been a different story. I don’t think it’s being presented correctly by the school. Looking forward to some insight on this issue.

Kenny

The special educator director in our district overruled the IEP team’s decision for my student to be placed in the district’s behavior-focused school. The entire team wanted this placement. Can the special ed director unilaterally do this without consulting with the parents or the rest of the team?

Chuck

No, but obviously they think they can. You can try asking for the basis for their actions.

John

My principal took my sped students from my sped classroom and put them in another sped classroom without an iep meeting to change their placement. Can she do this? She did this to move them from a self contained classroom for deaf students to a sped classroom for hearing students to mix them up more.

Chuck

Technically this may be legal, since it is from one self-contained class to another. But it may or may not be set up to meet the students needs, so discussing this with the parents ahead of the change and allowing them to request an IEP meeting would be appropriate would be good, even if it is legal.

Camilla

We just had and IEP meeting for my daughter. She has dyslexia and has trouble with inferences and word retrieval. Another deficit she has is social integration and building peer relationships. At the meeting I asked what is being done to help her connect with other students. School said they are doing nothing because they cannot force other kids to connect with my daughter. I did not sign the IEP because the goals were vague and nothing about her social skills was added. School went behind my back and implemented the IEP! I asked for another meeting and my request was denied. Superintendent and special education director are also not helping. What should be my next step?

Morning

I am asking the grade as I have observed it is easier for schools to provide social integration when the kids are young when they are not in cliques and not as much on social media, etc. When they reach middle school and high school, some schools have peer mentors and peer mentoring clubs. Teachers, over the years, always coupled my daughter with special ed kids to be a peer mentor since she was very young (not with my permission) and burned her out at times and disrupted her learning in the classroom or enhanced it at times. My daughter is patient and has strong boundaries which helped many students and herself.She learned lifelong skills. She needed more support from the teachers as some of the students were complex and teachers should have a plan when they pair up students.

Camilla

Hi Morning,
My daughter is in Middle School 7th grade. The teacher does plan but most of her class are already friends so she just pairs them off together. Nobody wants to interact with my daughter. My heart breaks for her. She and I will be starting to look at some clubs and organizations outside of school so that she can interact with non-disabled peers in a positive manner. Hopefully that will help her. Mean time what do you think should be my next step with regards to the school and her social skills?

Peter

Camilla – Social skills as a functional goal should be easy enough for your school. I’m sure they could be creative if they REALLY tried. Sometimes a new or different activity is easier to pair kids up when they haven’t found partners. Or randomly picking names out of a hat rather than letting kids pick their own partners – the teacher’s in charge, right? Set the goals and let the school figure out how they get accomplished.

I find that local clubs like the YMCA (in my area) are getting better at working with our kids. After school programs and summer camps are a great place for social interactions. Typical kids get to meet our kids without the pressures of school peer relationships. They learn how awesome our kids are and they become better advocates than many adults…hang in there!

Morning

I learned, in my kids’ early years, to put them in extracurriculars outside of school to build confidence. I did not want to depend on a school district or over burdened special ed teachers to fully implement the IEP. I know the reality from working in school districts. Work with one of the school club advisors and help the advisor to guide your daughter in those clubs and activities The school should try harder and make it work, but don’t wait for the school. Create opportunities for her outside of school for her confidence. What is her passion and follow that lead to activities. There are year-round programs. There are summer programs and camps for students with dyslexia to build reading skills and confidence. Also, research assistive technology –amazing resources!!!

Anonymous

Can you please point out to me where in IDEA it states this is an IEP decision. My case manager and entire team agree my preschool twins require curb to curb transport. Less than 24 hours in advance of meeting, asst superintendent for special services had attorney email me letter allowing curb to curb only for remainder of this year, stating I had to file for due process after that and during that time no curb to curb would be given. Superintendent also forbid IEP team from amending IEP to include curb to curb,

Chuck

Transportation is a related service that the IEP determines the need for. A determination of need would negate a state rule like a child must live X miles from the campus. (The school might not get reimbursed by the state, but that is a different issue.) You can ask for the legal basis for this decision, or file a request for a due process hearing or state complaint now. Each state has a federally funded disability rights agency that can assist parents with legal issues like this.

Veronica

As far as I know, all decisions about your kid’s IEP are made by the team – not an individual at the school. If the entire IEP team says your kids need this service, it should be written in the IEP and the school should provide it.

I know it says to look on page 99 in the Law book about the IEP and the team. The regulations help me understand the law – read on page 245. Section 300.320 says that IEPs have to be developed in a team meeting and meet all the requirements of the sections 300.320 – 300.324. Those sections describe who is on the team and and who makes the decisions based on your child’s needs. I don’t see anywhere in these sections that says the supt or asst supt alone can make the decision for the team. It’s based on your kids needs. If the school says your twins need it now (for the rest of the year) – what’s going to change after that? Why does the school say they will NOT “need” it after this year? It’s based on what the team determines your child needs, and like the article says, not what’s convenient for the school.

On page 245 in the book, the regulations say the team reviews and revises the IEP, so the team (including you) revises/amends the IEP. Doesn’t say one person from the school can “forbid” amending the IEP. Did he really say that?

I hope you are getting all of this down in writing so you can remember correctly everything he told you – and put all of your questions, concerns, to the school in writing. Did you get a copy of the written policy from the asst supt that authorizes him (or the attorney) to make this decision? Make sure you keep a copy of that email from the attorney.

I would send/take a hand written letter thanking the asst supt for the information and restating EVERY thing he said (or told the attorney to say). If what you said is correct – the team says your child needs the transportation service, but the asst supt/attorney said you can only have it this year – and you would have to go to due process to get it after that – put that in the letter. Ask him to confirm that you correctly understood what he said. If not, ask him to clarify. Ask him to explain why he made this decision. And ask for any written school policy about this.

Veronica

One last thing. Sounds like your meeting is coming up quickly, you may not have time to get your letters written before. I hate all the meetings, but if you can’t get this settled, you may have to ask for another meeting so you can get this worked out. I remember a form from wrightslaw – so look at this article. https://www.wrightslaw.com/advoc/tips/bonnell.iep.attach.htm

If you ask for something (curb to curb) and the schools says no – they have to explain why. Print this form for the meeting and don’t hesitate to pause to write down what the team says your child needs and what / why / who is rejecting your request.

Peter

Where in IDEA? 34 CFR §300.34(c)(16)

Guidance from OSERS: https://sites.ed.gov/idea/files/OMB_08-0101_Transportation-11-4-09_FINAL-1.pdf

Diane

I live in NC, who can help me get my 10 year old non verbal autistic son into a special needs school the IEP team is refusing to help?

Chuck

Check with your state parent training and information center. http://www.parentcenterhub.org/find-your-center

Peter
Dee

I have full custody of my nephew i have had him for 4 years i started his iep and never have had to have his mother sign anything he is in a new school and said they have to have her sign papers because she still has her parent rights is this true?

Sheri

What happens when the special education teacher disagrees with the rest of the team?

Chuck

The paperwork should reflect that the teacher disagrees. It is best that it gives some detail on the reasons for this. The IEP team can proceed to implement what was decided. The dispute resolution processes IDEA, and state rules allow are generally designed for parents, but you may be able to make a state complaint.

Anonymous

Can the state board override IEP requirements in regards to state testing? I am a student at a high school in Illinois who is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. According to my teachers, I cannot have my accomodations (my phone and notebook to listen to music and draw, respectively) while taking these tests. They said, quote, “We can send the accomdations to the state board, and they can either say ‘yes’ or ‘no.'” I’m afraid to say that I don’t have the best relationship of trust with my staff, so I find it unlikely that they would have pushed very hard to clarify what I legally deserve. I’m planning on talking about this with my parents. Is this a violation of the IEP laws? If so, who is at fault? The state board, or my teachers? What can I do to file a complaint?

Chuck

It is not uncommon for the state education agency to allow schools to decide to allow certain accommodations for statewide tests, but for some others that agency must approve them. Contact your state parent training & information center. They will know your state rules & options. http://www.parentcenterhub.org/find-your-center

Celeste

When a related service is discontinued without the presence at the IEP or any input from the service provider, can the service provider let the parent know that the service provider was intentionally not invited to the IEP and that no written progress report or any other communication has been requested of the service provider!