“My 10-year-old made little to no progress in reading over the last 3-4 years. A reading specialist evaluated him and recommended a different reading program. To help our child catch up, we asked for intensive tutoring from the reading specialist.
“The school told us, “we can’t write services by the reading specialist in the IEP because the specialist is not a special ed teacher.”
“Is this right? Can’t a child receive instruction or tutoring by a reading specialist who is not a special ed teacher?”
Short Answer: Yes, your child can receive intensive reading instruction from a person who is not a special ed teacher. The IDEA and federal special ed regs DO NOT require that special ed teachers provide special education and related services in IEPs.
I’m sorry but not surprised that your child hasn’t progressed with the services provided by a special ed teacher. At most colleges, teacher prep programs don’t require special educators to know how to teach kids to read, even though the American Federation of Teachers says:
“Teaching students to read by the end of third grade is the single most important task assigned to elementary schools.”
At the end of third grade, education shifts from teaching children to read to children reading to learn other subjects. If a child isn’t a proficient reader when he enters 4th grade, he will not be able to keep up.
Your child’s IEP is supposed to include all special education services, related services, and supplementary aids and services your child needs and that the school will provide. (Wrightslaw: All About IEPs, page 37)
If the team agrees that your child needs an instructional service – like intensive reading instruction – but refuses to include it in the child’s IEP – you have to assume they don’t plan to provide it.
What can you do?
First, write a short note or email describing your child’s situation, what you requested, and what you were told. Ask if your understanding of the school’s position is correct.
Second, request a copy of the school district policy about how special education services are provided. Does the policy say special educators are the only staff who can provide special ed services? (I will be surprised if they have a policy on this issue).
Third, if you do not receive a response to your email or note, write a follow-up note to request the policy – and send copies to the principal and the special ed director. At the top of this email or letter, type “SECOND REQUEST” (attach a copy of your first request).
Please keep us posted.