Top 10 Most Ridiculous Comments Heard at an IEP Meeting

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by Dennise Goldberg
Cross-posted from The Friendship Circle Blog, courtesy of Special Education Advisor

In my job as a special education advocate, and my other job as a parent of a child with special needs, I have been involved in too many Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings to count. During these numerous IEP meetings I have met some wonderful, caring, knowledgeable, well-meaning teachers and school personnel.

I have also, at times, heard some of the most outrageous statements!!! These ridiculous comments fly in the face of everything the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) stands for. What you will find below are 10 of most ridiculous statements I have heard and why they are so ridiculous.

Ridiculous Statement #1: Your child’s emotional disturbance is interfering with her academic performance so she doesn’t qualify for an IEP.

Fact: There are 13 disability categories under IDEA. In order to qualify for an IEP you must meet the definition of one of the 13 categories and by reason thereof NEED special education and related services. One of the 13 disability categories is emotional disturbance, and if that disability is interfering with the child’s ability to access the curriculum, then by definition she has a need for an IEP.

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Ridiculous Statement #2: This is a magnet school. We don’t do IEPs here.

Fact: All public schools are required, by law, to provide children with a disability a free appropriate public education (FAPE). Since magnet schools are public schools, they are required to execute IEPs for those children that require special education. This would also go for advanced study schools and charter schools.

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Ridiculous Statement #3: We don’t perform Functional Behavior Assessments (FBA) or write Behavior Support Plans (BSP) for children exhibiting off-task behavior. FBAs are only for kids that are not nice.

Fact: IDEA requires the IEP Team to consider five special factors when writing an IEP. One of those five special factors is behavior. IDEA states: (i) In the case of a child whose behavior impedes the child’s learning or that of others, consider the use of positive behavioral interventions and supports, and other strategies, to address that behavior. Behavior that impedes learning comes in many forms and does not always manifest itself in violent outbursts. Off-task behavior can and does impede learning.

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Ridiculous Statement #4: Maybe your daughter’s behavior issues are being caused by you telling her she has autism and she is emulating how she thinks someone with autism should act. I suggest not talking with her so much about her autism.

Fact: Wow, I’m still amazed at this one and I’m not sure where to start. Let’s focus on the fact that they are blaming the parent for the child’s behavior in school. If the school really believes the IEP isn’t working because of the parent, they are required to provide training to the parent via the related service known as parent training and counseling. In my opinion, the school needs the training, not the parent, but let’s move on. :-)

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Ridiculous Statement #5: We can’t test your child for an IEP until we have first tried Response to Intervention.

Fact: This ridiculous statement was used by so many school districts that, on January 21, 2011, the United States Department of Education Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services issued a memo reminding school districts that Response to Intervention cannot be used to delay or deny an evaluation for eligibility under IDEA. You can download the memo here: OSERS Memo on RTI

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Ridiculous Statement #6: Your child will be graduating at the end of the month whether you like it or not.

Fact: Graduation with a diploma is considered a change of placement under an IEP. Any change of placement triggers extensive due process rights. If the parents disagree with their child (who has not reached the age of majority) graduating, they can stop it by filing for due process. This would trigger a Stay Put. Stay Put means there can be no change of placement or reduction of services while the disagreement is being worked out.

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Ridiculous Statement #7: I won’t let you add your comments to the parental concerns section of the IEP form because the IEP is a school document and I disagree with your description of the events that occurred.

Fact: This question has been responded to in the United States Federal Register, where it was said, “Parents are free to provide input into their child’s IEP through a written report if they so choose.”

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Ridiculous Statement #8: I spoke to my supervisor at the school district, 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. If a faceless supervisor is making the decision regarding the IEP outside of the team meeting, then this is called predetermination. That supervisor would need to join the IEP Team and discuss her recommendations with the Team before any decisions could be made.

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Ridiculous Statement #9: I agree she needs a full-time aide, but I don’t have the authority to authorize that.

Fact: IDEA requires every IEP Team to have a district representative who is knowledgeable about the district’s curriculum and resources and who has the authority to bind the district.

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Ridiculous Statement #10: 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 access the curriculum.

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Dennise Goldberg is the owner of Special Education Advisor, a community of parents, educators, and special education service providers dedicated to helping families with children who have special needs understand their special education rights and receive appropriate special education services.

Dennise works with children with all forms of disabilities including autism, cerebral palsy, Asperger syndrome, and Down syndrome, to name a few. She is also the mother of a beautiful 10-year old boy who has dealt with developmental delays, apraxia of speech, fine motor delays, sensory issues, and gross motor delays, who now has a learning disability (auditory processing disorder).

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