Here at DRA, as you can imagine, we work with a lot of parents who are having trouble accessing the appropriate services for their children in an educational setting. Parents have shared some truly ridiculous statements they’ve heard in the course of trying to advocate for their kids. Here are a few of our personal favorites, along with the necessary facts to refute each one. (Get ready: a few of these are real doozies.) 

Your child’s disruptive behavior is interfering with his academic performance in the classroom.  He doesn’t need a behavior plan added to his IEP, he needs more discipline at home.

Fact:  Behavior is a critical component of a child’s ability to effectively learn in the classroom. The IEP Team determines whether a child needs positive behavioral interventions and supports. This is done through observation and functional behavioral assessments (FBA).  If it is determined your child will benefit from positive behavioral interventions, assessments, and/or other strategies, the IEP must be revised and include the appropriate interventions in the IEP as a Behavioral Intervention Plan (BIP).

This is a charter school; we don’t do IEP’s here.

Fact: Children with disabilities who attend public charter schools and their parents retain all rights under IDEA.

Maybe your daughter’s behavior issues are being caused by you asking her about her day and what happens in school. You should just concentrate on being a mom and let us take care of what happens in school.

Fact: Communication between home and school is very important.  The law requires regular progress reports to help parents and schools monitor the child’s progress toward his or her annual goals. Parents can share information about what is happening at home and build upon what the child is learning at school. If the child is having difficulty at school, parents may be able to offer insight or help the school explore possible reasons as well as possible solutions.

Your child will be graduating this year whether you like it or not.

Fact: Federal law states that your child’s eligibility for special education ends when he/she graduates from high school with a regular diploma or until the child reaches the age of eligibility for a FAPE. In Arkansas that age is 21. Graduation with a diploma is considered a change of placement under an IEP.  Any change of placement triggers extensive due process rights.  If you disagree, work with your IEP team to develop the right plan of action.

You can’t add comments to the parental concerns section of the IEP form because the IEP is a school document.

Fact: The law allows for parents to include comments and written input into the IEP document.  The parent is a required member of the IEP Team.  To only ask the parent to ‘just sign here’ is wrong and against the law.

I spoke to my supervisor at the district office and she has authorized me to offer you one hour of speech therapy a week.

Fact: IDEA specifically says that all decisions regarding an IEP need to be decided in an IEP Team meeting and must be individualized to meet the needs of the specific child. The amount of needed speech therapy is determined by the appropriate personnel based on a clinical evaluation of the student. In addition, if a faceless supervisor is making the decision regarding the IEP outside of the team meeting then he/she would need to join the IEP Team and discuss her recommendations with the Team before any decisions could be made.

The district rarely provides one-on-one aides.

Fact:  If providing an aide is the most appropriate accommodation that will allow the student to be educated with his non-disabled peers within the school system, the district must provide the aide.  If the district claims it does not have the staff available to meet the student’s needs it must examine its personnel development plans. This is not an excuse it may legally use to avoid providing the staff required by the student’s IEP.

Your child is too smart to have an IEP.

Fact:  Intelligence has no bearing on disability or need.  Even individuals with genius level IQs can have a disability that affects their ability to learn. The first step is to make a referral for special education so the district can conduct a full and individual initial evaluation. It must be comprehensive enough to identify all of the child’s special education and related services needs.

This is what we do for every student.

Fact: State and federal laws require the IEP to be “individualized.”  There is no ‘bank’ of annual goals from which to draw. The school system is mandated to consider the student’s individual and unique abilities in drafting an IEP and failure to do so may result in the denial of a free, appropriate public education.

We can’t afford that piece of equipment.

Fact: Schools are prohibited from considering cost as a factor in determining whether a piece of equipment needs to be provided to a child with disabilities. Be clear about the specific purpose of the equipment and how it furthers the goals as outlined in the IEP.

Let’s see how he/she does in CBI before we place him/her in a more inclusive setting.

Fact: Placement is not presumed on the front end. Placement is determined after the IEP goals and objectives have been discussed and agreed upon. Discussion of placement must begin with consideration of a general education setting before moving to a discussion of a more restrictive environment. Predetermined placement is against IDEA.

We don’t believe your child has Autism, so we are not acknowledging it or taking it into consideration when writing accommodations for him.

Fact – The determination of whether a child suspected of having a specific disability as defined by law must be made by the child’s parents and a team of qualified professionals. Each team member must certify in writing whether the eligibility determination document reflects the member’s conclusion. If not, that member must submit a separate statement presenting the member’s conclusions

We can’t change the presentation of the testing document. All students take the same test.

Fact – Each IEP must include a statement of program modifications or accommodation supports that school personnel will provide to enable the child to advance appropriately toward attaining identified annual goals.

The teacher says my child can’t eat lunch in the cafeteria with the other students. She has to eat in the CBI classroom.

Fact – Children with disabilities are entitled to be educated with non-disabled children to the maximum extent possible. Supplementary aids and services determined appropriate by the IEP team must be available to provide non-academic and extra-curricular services and activities, i.e. lunch and recess, in the manner necessary to afford children with disabilities an equal opportunity for participation in those services and activities.

If you want your daughter in a typical school classroom, she’ll have to act like a typical kid.

Fact – What is the definition of ‘typical’, anyway? Every child is different.  The two fundamental principles of IDEA are that a child receives a free appropriate public education and does so in the least restrictive environment. To the maximum extent appropriate, students with disabilities must be educated with children who are non-disabled.

Here’s the bottom line: No matter what, your child has the right to a quality education. We can help make sure they get it. If you hear any of these or some equally ridiculous statement when working to ensure that your child’s rights are respected in an educational setting, give us a call at 800-482-1174.