COVID-19   Law    Advocacy    Topics A-Z     Training    Wrights' Blog   Wrightslaw Store    Yellow Pages for Kids 

 Home > Doing Your Homework > Teacher says, "I Don't Care if He Has an IEP"

The Special Ed Advocate newsletter
It's Unique ... and Free!

Enter your email address below:

Training Programs

Aug. 22 - TRT-CLE

Sept. 24 - MD via ZOOM

Full Schedule


Topics from A-Z
Free Newsletter
Seminars & Training
Yellow Pages for Kids
Press Room

Books & Training

Wrightslaw Storesecure store lock
  Advocate's Store
  Student Bookstore
  Exam Copies
Training Center
Mail & Fax Orders

Advocacy Library

Cool Tools
Doing Your Homework
Ask the Advocate
Newsletter Archives
Short Course Series
Success Stories

Law Library

Fed Court Complaints
IDEA 2004
McKinney-Vento Homeless
Section 504


American Indian
Assistive Technology
Autism Spectrum
Behavior & Discipline
College/Continuing Ed
Due Process
Early Intervention
  (Part C)

Episodic, such as
   Allergies, Asthma,
   Diabetes, Epilepsy, etc

Future Planning
High-Stakes Tests
Homeless Children
IDEA 2004
Identification & Child Find
Juvenile Justice
Law School & Clinics
Letters & Paper Trails
LRE / Inclusion
Military / DOD
Parental Protections
PE and Adapted PE
Privacy & Records
Procedural Safeguards
Progress Monitoring
Related Services
Research Based

Response to Intervention

Restraints / Seclusion
   and Abuse

School Report Cards
Section 504
Teachers & Principals
Twice Exceptional (2e)
VA Special Education

Resources & Directories

Advocate's Bookstore
Advocacy Resources
  Disability Groups
  State DOEs
  State PTIs
Free Flyers
Free Pubs
Free Newsletters
Legal & Advocacy
   Legal Terms
   Assessment Terms
Best School Websites


Print this page

Teacher Says, "I Don't Care If He Has an IEP"
by Suzanne Whitney, Research Editor, Wrightslaw

Schoolboy frustratedI am feeling in desperate need of help. I just learned about Wrightslaw.

My son is 7 years old, his ADHD has been characterized as "very severe" - by one evaluator, "most severe I've seen in 25 years of practice." I've taken him to three private evaluations and he is now under the care of one of the most respected child neurologists in the county.

He is also gifted. He was in a private school that really couldn't meet his needs, so I placed him in public school. He has an IEP.

The Background

He gets good grades in second grade, nothing below a C, and he reads on average at the 3rd grade level.  I have a tutor who works with him one, sometimes two, hours a day.  I spend at least an hour or more a day with him also.  I think it’s the support he’s getting at home, not in school, that is keeping him afloat. 

Late last school year we started a very low dose of Dexedrine, which helps a bit. If we do much more, it interferes with sleep and appetite.

Fortunately, the teachers over the years have all agreed that he is the sweetest dear in the class; kind, respectful, well behaved – model child in that department.  But every last one of them has said he needs too much guidance.  

His PreK teacher said he was the brightest in the class, but simply could not stay on task for more than a couple of moments.  It was she who suggested I test for gifted and she was correct.

He is in a full time gifted program with 33 students and two full time teachers.  Both of these teachers are enormously frustrated by his need for guidance “95 percent of the time.”

They told me on the 7th day of school “this has to end!” They say things like “I don’t care if he has an IEP, he needs to be more independent.”

He comes home with a chart filled mostly with sad faces because he didn’t complete various tasks (like writing down homework) correctly.  They are bothered by the fact that they have to write it down. I don’t like the idea of him being penalized if he doesn’t, since its written into his IEP that they must help.

One is a brand new teacher.  I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t know much about the condition.  I’m still learning and never would have believed it could be this maddening if I hadn’t been living with it for so long.

Anyway, the school has called an IEP team meeting – I did not request this – where the county special ed director will be present.  I’m concerned they are going to lower some kind of boom.

Two questions 

1. Can I ask for a paraprofessional? I’ve heard there are other ADHD kids in the class too.  And even though two teachers for 30 plus kids should be fine, I think there are other children who could use the help.   

2. Can they ask my child to leave the school?

Sue's Advice

I’ll answer your questions first - but I think there is more.

Q: Can I ask for a paraprofessional?

A: Read this before you ask for a paraprofessional.

Then even if you want a paraprofessional, don’t ask for one.

Instead, focus on the IEP goals and accommodations.

If more staff is needed, do you want to request someone other than a teacher teach your son? Let the non-certified staff supervise recess, collect data, move chairs around for reading groups, help with the buses, etc.

Let teachers do the teaching. They have the training, we hope.

Q: Can they ask my child to leave the school?

A: No, they cannot ask your son to leave. They are required to teach him. They are even required to teach him with out making him feel like he doesn’t belong there.

More Excellent Advice

About the IEP meeting

Go ahead and attend the meeting, but as soon as you get there tell them that you were unable to prepare because you do not know why they have asked for the meeting.
IEP meeting

If the meeting gets out of hand, repeat that you were unable to prepare for the meeting because you did not know what would be discussed, and ask them to “reconvene at a later date when you will be able to participate as an informed member of the team.”

If the meeting is going fairly well, still respond to whatever is presented with, “Well, I didn’t know we were going to discuss this. Let me get back to you in a few days.”

That will give you time to figure out your plan and respond in writing once you have had time to think about what happened in the meeting.

Don’t agree or to anything at the meeting. If the school members of the team wanted you to be prepared and be a full participant, they would have told you what the meeting was about ahead of time.

You control whether or not they catch you off guard. Just go in there, find out what they wan,t and then respond in writing. Read “Letter to a Stranger" once you have had time to think.

About the Teachers

The teachers who are having trouble with your son are basically saying that they would be happy to teach him if he would just stop having his disability. Tough.

They get the whole kid. If you can live through it, so can they. They are a public school. He is the public.

When they say, “He . . .  

  • doesn’t pay attention,
  • forgets,
  • interrupts,
  • daydreams,
  • wanders off task,
  • drives the teacher to drink,
  • doesn’t show his work on math problems,
  • is disorganized,
  • etc.”

You say, “That is part of his disability. Let’s take a look at...

  • his program (IEP) and see if we need to change the goals (increase services)
  • accommodations (an accommodation is something the teacher does to level the playing field for the student, not something the child changes to make life easier for the teacher)
  • placement (like a nice private school for gifted students [not likely], not a “resource” room for a gifted kid)
  • or maybe add some staff training (like have an expert come into the school and train the teachers how to teach a bright busy child).”

About his Chart

What needs to end is this chart full of sad face stickers.
sad face sticker

How do they think that makes him feel? Do they think the sad face stickers are going to change his disability? Does the kid in the wheelchair get sad faces on her chart for not walking well? If they gave the kid in the wheelchair sad face stickers do they think it would change the way she walks?

You son has a hefty dose of a neurological deficit that affects his global behavior. He is also a child who attends a public school.

He is a child who they will educate and will not damage by inappropriate behavior on their part. That is a sentence you may want to state at the meeting depending on how the meeting goes. My bet is you will find an opportunity to make that statement - politely, no yelling, even if it kills you.

Read this before the meeting Behavior Problems and Discipline and read it in detail later after the meeting when you have time.

About his IEP

Most IEPs are not great.

Resources that will help.

Wrightslaw: All About IEPs Wrightslaw: All About IEPs
Print book $12.95   Add to Cart
Kindle $7.95   Add to Cart
e Pub $7.95   Add to Cart

Writing Measurable IEP Goals and Objectives by Barbara D. Bateman and Cynthia M. Herr.

Older, but classic, publications by Roger Mager.

Preparing Instructional Objectives by Roger Mager.

Measuring Instructional Results, by Roger Mager.

Then make sure you participate in writing future IEPs.

If you really look at what the IEP says about your son’s present level of performance, what it expects him to accomplish and provides for accommodations, you may see that it could use some additional information and tweaking.

If the IEP team and all your son’s teachers were abducted by aliens tonight, would the people who stepped in to take their place be able to do it seamlessly based on what is in the IEP?

If you close up the holes it may be easier for everyone to follow it and to understand your son’s disability and degree of disability.

For now

Order the books and organize and calm yourself in preparation for the meeting. All you need to do there is take notes and respond with common sense as appropriate.

If you get over your head, remind them that you did not know about the subject of the meeting until you arrived and you would like to "reconvene the meeting at a later date when you can participate as a fully informed member of the IEP team”.

How to Find an Advocate

In my area, who would be a good advocate, or how do I research and find one on my own?

Use the Yellow Pages for Kids state directory to find advocates, resources, and disability information for your state.

Good luck,


Research Editor, Wrightslaw

Meet Sue Whitney

Sue Whitney of Manchester, New Hampshire, works with families as a special education advocate and is the research editor for Wrightslaw.

Doing Your Homework, Suzanne Whitney gives savvy advice about reading, research based instruction, and creative strategies for using education standards to advocate for children and to improve public schools.

Her articles have been reprinted by,,, The Beacon: Journal of Special Education Law and Practice, the Schafer Autism Report, and have been used in CLE presentations to attorneys.

Sue is the co-author of Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind (ISBN: 978-1-892320-12-4) that was published by Harbor House Law Press, Inc.

She also served on New Hampshire's Special Education State Advisory Committee on the Education of Students/Children with Disabilities (SAC).

Sue Whitney's bio.

Copyright © 2002-2022 by Suzanne Whitney.

Read more articles by Sue:

Getting Help for Children with Reading Problems

Research-Based Reading Instruction

Exit Exams Can Be Optional If You Plan Ahead

A Parent's Guide to No Child Left Behind

What Teachers, Principals & School Administrators Need to Know About NCLB


More ADHD articles and information.

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon The Special Ed Advocate: It's Free!

Special Ed Books,
Immediate Downloads
and Supplies!

Order Wrightslaw Product
s Today!

Check Out
The Advocate's Store!

Wrightslaw on FacebookWrightslaw on TwitterWrightslaw YouTube Channel 

Wrightslaw Books
Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 3rd Edition, by Pam and Pete Wright
About the Book

Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy, 2nd Edition
About the Book

Wrightslaw: All About IEPs
About the Book

Wrightslaw: All About Tests and Assessments
About the Book

Wrightslaw: Special Education Legal Developments and Cases 2019
About the Book

Surviving Due Process: Stephen Jeffers v. School Board
About the DVD Video

The Advocate's Store

Understanding Your Child's
Test Scores (1.5 hrs)

Wrightslaw Special: $14.95