It is common for parents to feel their child’s special education program is not working. Their child may show a lack of progress, problematic behavior escalation, or just feel unheard during IEP meetings.

This article focuses on the basics of IDEA, federal law, which will help guide you in evaluating what may be wrong with your child’s IEP.

The Annual IEP is where all decisions are made in terms of what your child will receive through special education. At least once a year, IEP Teams must meet for an annual review of your child’s IEP to determine whether the annual goals are being achieved or make changes to your child’s supports, services, goals, or placement.

Your child should be receiving whatever appropriate interventions, special education and related services, and supplementary services are necessary to achieve individualized and ambitious goals.

To determine if your child’s IEP is sufficient to provide FAPE, (Free Appropriate Public Education), you and the IEP team should ask a very important question:

Is your child’s IEP reasonably calculated to enable your child to make educational progress despite their disability and deficits?

The IEP Team may also meet periodically throughout the course of the school year to make changes to the IEP if circumstances warrant it. This is called an Amendment meeting because it is an Amendment to the Annual IEP. For example, if a child is not making expected progress toward their annual goals, the IEP Team must revise, as appropriate, the IEP to address the lack of progress.

Under IDEA, (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), IEP Teams are required to use periodic progress reports to inform parents of their child’s progress. These Progress on Goals reports are typically provided during report card time. Parents and other IEP Team members should collaborate and partner to track progress appropriate to the child’s circumstances.

Although this is what is required of school districts across the nation, it is very common for IEP teams to ignore a lack of progress and even cherry-pick scores to look like your child is on track for meeting their goals. If you are concerned about your child’s lack of progress, you have the right to request an IEP Team meeting at any time. If your child is not making appropriate progress, the IEP Team must meet to review and revise the individualized education program.

How do I prove my child is not making progress?

According to IDEA, your child should have an individualized education program that is reasonably calculated to enable him or her to make progress that is appropriate in light of his or her circumstances.

If your child fails to make progress within a reasonable period of time, your school district should hold an IEP meeting to address the lack of progress.

If your school is failing to address your child’s inadequate progress or ineffective services, your school district may be in violation of special education law. However, nothing will happen if you don’t hold them accountable by gathering the evidence required to prove your child isn’t making progress. To do this, parents have the right to request an IEE, (Independent Educational Evaluation).

An IEE conducted by a qualified, nonbiased IEE provider, will provide the evidence required to show a lack of progress and identify the school’s failure to provide an IEP that meets your child’s needs. To learn more about an IEE, click here.

What if the school has failed to follow my child’s Individualized Education Program?

There is no excuse for the IEP team to fail to implement your child’s IEP exactly as it is written. Your school must ensure that your child’s IEP is accessible to every regular education teacher, special education teacher, related services provider, and any other service provider who is legally responsible for its implementation.

Each teacher must be informed of his or her specific responsibilities related to the IEP and the specific accommodations, modifications, and supports that must be provided per the IEP. If any teacher or service provider fails to implement the IEP as it is written, they have violated the IEP contract for non-implementation of the IEP.

If your school has failed to implement services or programming per your child’s IEP, your child is eligible to receive compensatory services to make up for the services that were missed.

All of the above is IDEA federal law, which applies to all states, without question. The problem is that school districts fail to adhere to these requirements and give parents the run around when they try and hold their IEP team accountable and address these serious parent concerns.

When it comes to these types of issues, parents need advocacy support from a qualified advocate. Otherwise, parents may be sacrificing valuable educational time while the district perpetrates delay and denial tactics on parents.

This is a common theme across the nation and is a product of our broken special education system. Unfortunately, the burden to ensure a child’s needs are met is placed upon parents. To learn more about the Broken System, click here.

There is a lot of uncertainty and reluctance on the part of schools to provide an appropriate education for students on an IEP.

Making sure schools are following the law is a responsibility that should not have to be left to parents. The reality is that in addition to parenting a child with a disability, you also have the job of being a watchdog over the school’s implementation of your child’s education. This is something that parents must understand and be prepared to deal with.

~Contact.FirstName~, the foundational IDEA requirements outlined in this article are just the tip of the iceberg in learning how to advocate for your child. As such, becoming aware of your parent rights is the first step in ensuring your child has an IEP that will meet their unique needs.

Cheering you on always!

Valerie Aprahamian

If you haven’t joined our Private Special Education Parent Empowerment Facebook Group yet, you should check it out here.

Here’s what parents are saying about the group:

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Valerie Aprahamian is a special education advocate, IEP strategist, and speaker. She speaks on behalf of parents to protect the rights of neurodiverse children to receive the supports they need in public school.

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