Having worked for the local school county, I have attended my fair share of IEP meetings. And by fair share I mean… hundreds of IEP meetings. I don’t even want to think about the number of hours I spent at that IEP meeting table!!
In the beginning I was an employee of the school system, sitting on the county side of the table. Since I left the county and went into practice for myself, I have thoroughly enjoyed being on the “other” side of the table, helping to advocate for my private clients and their needs. It really is fun to be on the “other” side now (since I have some insider information having worked in the county, hehe).
Anyways, I have heard some ridiculous things when sitting in IEP meetings. They have come from educators, therapists, and quite often administrators who don’t step foot in the classroom very often. I am sharing those moments of ridiculousness here to help lighten the mood for those of you with an upcoming IEP meeting.
If you go in expecting crazy and you come out not having experienced it, at least you were prepared, right? 😉
I will say that MOST of the time, the staff that we have worked with from the county have been absolutely fabulous, brilliant people who have truly cared about the child and their best interests. But once in a while you get someone who makes you stop and scratch your head…here’s what some of them have said that made me stop in my tracks while my jaw hit the floor:
- Her hand flapping is distracting the other students. I’m sorry, WHAT? This seasoned special-education teacher with a class full of children with special needs told us that this students hand flapping was a distraction. My question was, “well great, when you know how to stop and replace the behavior with something more productive, please let us know.” In reality, I was being completely sarcastic. A child who flaps their hands NEEDS TO do so to help regulate themselves. It can also be a form of communication and is NOT something that we should stop unless it’s becoming dangerous to the child or others (e.g., if it leads to hitting oneself or others, for example, because then it is non-productive).
- He won’t stay seated at my 30-minute circle. This was said about a three-year-old preschooler with special needs. First thought is that a 30-minute circle in preschool is absurd. Preschool should have short circles, centered around learning through play and hands-on activities. After all, play is a child’s work!
- The team has decided that your child qualifies for X services for X minutes per week. Please know that it is illegal for the team to predetermine ANYTHING before you are sitting at the table in front of them during the IEP meeting (this goes for placements in different programs/classrooms, too). If they do this, be sure to remind them that what they have done is illegal and that you are part of the team and must also be included in the discussion regarding the services and amount of services your child should receive.
- There is no perfect placement for your child. Oh this one makes my blood boil. This is said to me way too often for me to smile and pretend like I didn’t hear it. If they do not have an appropriate placement for your child, perhaps they would like to fund the appropriate placement, say, in a neighboring private school program 😉
- We agree a shadow/aide is needed but there just isn’t funding available. If they state that your child needs something, but they are not willing to provide it and claim it is due to funding, they could have a law suit on their hands. I am always surprised by how many county employees say, “well if the money was there” or “the funding just doesn’t exist”…not okay! If someone tells you your child needs something but there is no funding, make sure you have that recorded on audio, video or in writing from the team. That will be your golden ticket to getting that need funded!
- If your child is dismissed from speech therapy they will lose their occupational therapy (OT) and/or physical therapy (PT) as well and no longer have an IEP. I don’t know if this exists elsewhere but in our local school county, IEP’s do not exist for OT or PT only. They do exist for speech-language pathology as a primary service (even though we are a “related service” like OT and PT) but if dismissed from academic classroom goals and speech-language goals, you could lose the rest of the IEP as well. Seems a bit absurd, huh?
I bet you have some absurd things that have been said to you before. Let’s hear them. Share the absurd statements that you have heard at an IEP meeting below!
PS – be sure to grab our brand new FREE IEP meeting checklist for parents. It will walk you through step-by-step what to do before, during and after your child’s IEP meeting so you are prepared!!! Get it here: Free IEP Meeting Checklist for Parents