Attention Parents: Educators are Not the Experts of the Individual with Disabilities Education Act of 2004. You Must Become the Expert!

Attendees at my “You Gotta Know the Rules if You’re Gonna Play the Game” seminars have heard me say this, but here’s a few examples of what the words in this blog post title really mean.

I’m quoting administrators and educators in San Francisco Bay Area school districts below. These are things that have been said in IEP meetings I attended with client families in the last 2 months. All of these statements are false. They serve as further proof of what you’ve heard me say: your child’s educators and administrators cannot be relied upon to know the contents of IDEA 2004. You must know it and do your part to educate them on the misunderstandings that exist in their minds and throughout the school culture:

– “The school must provide all services during regular school hours.” (stated by a district’s IEP compliance officer)

– “There is nothing in the educational code that requires we build a unique program for every child with a disability. We’d never have the resources to do that.”  (stated by a high-level administrator)

-“We can only write IEP goals that we know we will meet.” (stated by an administrator with nearly 20 years experience)

The way we handled the first and third statements of factual inaccuracy during the meeting was by challenging the person that spoke the words to “please find that language in the federal statute,” then sliding the Wrightslaw Special Education Law book across the table.  Of course they couldn’t find it because it’s not there!

The way we handled the second statement was by reading aloud, for the benefit of the entire IEP team, the definition of special education from the statute. We then asked the administrator if he cared to revise his statement based on this new information and he only replied with “Thank you for reading the definition to the IEP team.”

That’s parent-led advocacy, that’s teamwork, that’s getting the meeting refocused on the unique needs of the child!

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