Take Back your Child's IEP
Updated: Oct 10, 2020
We don’t do that here. We don’t give one to one. We don’t schedule our services like that. Sound familiar? It happens more often than not. What is most alarming is that these statements violate your child’s IEP and the TEAM's right to discuss what is needed for your child’s Free Appropriate Public Education.
Take the statement, “We don’t do that here.” Now, this could be any service. Allowing a student a therapy room, for example. Most students with Anxiety, ADHD, and Mood Disorders need this, but never get the opportunity to have this as an option because schools make statements in their IEP meetings like, “We don’t do that here.” I talk from experience. As a special education teacher, I saw the need for a therapy classroom for students. There were too many students struggling with Anxiety, ADHD, and Mood Disorders. I wanted to develop such a classroom, but was turned down by administrators and sadly turned down by fellow teachers. The need to fit all of these struggling students into their already perfect packed classrooms was the school's highest priority. How can we get these students to succeed in the regular education classroom with a teacher and an aide, an overloaded special education teacher, and limited service providers? The answer is, you can’t! Sadly, most students went out of district, or parents were so fed up with their child failing they homeschooled their child.
I would be the wealthiest woman alive if I had a dollar for every time I heard a special Education Director, Principal, or Team Chair Coordinator say, We don’t give one to ones at our school.” Really? You are really making that statement without even thinking about the impact of the student you are supposedly supposed to be educating? Take a child on the autism spectrum who could function academically at grade level; however, gets overwhelmed by their environment. Do you really think the alternative to the one to one is giving the child a free appropriate education by placing them in an autism classroom, or even an out of district placement? This child, who had a one to one, could have had access to the many group projects, TechEd, Science labs, readers and writers workshops, special presentations, and so on. They may have some of these classes in private special education schools, but not to the extent of a public or private school. And why should that child miss that learning opportunity? Because the school does not do one to ones?
As a special education teacher, I dreaded the day we all sat down and made our schedules. It was the most stressful, most disappointing experience because the schedule never worked out. Some services always had to be given at a time that was not beneficial for the child, and it just tore me apart all year. There was nothing you could do about it. That was the most painful part. You skip lunch, you don’t take your 1 hour prep time, but what ends up happening administrators add more to your plate, and it is a never-ending juggle of servicing students without enough time in the school day. So I get it! I get when school districts make the statement, “We don’t schedule our services like that.” However, it has to change. Administrators need to hire more staff when numbers get too high, and we, as parents and advocates, need to push to make a change.
The best defense I have to offer when school districts make these statements is to ask questions. How will you provide the services my child needs if you don’t do that here? How will my child access what is happening in the regular education classroom if my child is in the autism room? How will my child succeed in math if he/she is getting pulled out for OT? Ask for specifics, how much time, what time of day, which classes? Honestly, the district won’t be able to give an educated response to these questions because the bottom line is that the district makes these statements because they don’t have the funds to support these services. Services once offered for special needs students have declined at a growing rate. Decisions made in your child’s IEP should not be based on a lack of funds. Take back your child’s IEP and ask these questions to discuss what your child needs and not what the school can provide.