IEP/How do you force the school district to follow the IEP?

Discussion in 'Special Ed 101 Archives' started by mistmouse, Sep 25, 2004.

  1. mistmouse

    mistmouse New Member

    I am so frustrated and it is only five weeks into the school year. We just recently reached a settlement agreement with the school district in regards to the Due Process that was filed over two years ago. The settlement agreement was initiated by the school district's attorney after the school district's expert pscyhologist witness was deposed and he basically told them what they had done to my daughter was wrong. Part of the settlement agreement is to continue to contract with the child psychologist they had to hire as a part of the due process decision before they appealed that and got it overturned, and we appealed and invoked stay put. She is to be a part of the IEP team and she develops the BIP and she has the final say. This psychologist has also been doing individual therapy with my daughter for two years and knows her pretty well by now. She developed a very good BIP that she and I both felt would work for my daughter, but of course it doesn't work if the school personnel don't follow it. I am becoming more frustrated each day, especially since my daughter has been sent home early four days already this school year. The only thing that gets her sent home early is any act of physical aggression. Because last year it was a problem for the teacher and aide in understanding that making noises isn't a reason to physically remove her from the room which then ultimately does result in her hitting or kicking and then of course getting sent home, this year the psychologist wrote into the BIP the interventions to use when my difficult child first starts to exhibit the extreme anxiety that results in the noises she makes. The teacher or aide has never tried to use one positive intervention and don't seem to know proper CPI techniques to remove her from the room. I just have a problem with my difficult child being sent home four times this year when the only problem she had before they put their hands on her to physically remove her was making more noise in the classroom than they are willing to tolerate. Of course this means they aren't following the BIP that is in the IEP....how do you make them do this? And at what expense to the child before and after the fact. I assume one option is to take them to due process again, but like I said we filed due process in February of 2002 and just finally reached settlement in July of 2004. If this last time wasn't expensive enough and drawn out enough for them to learn that IDEA isn't just something they can follow if they feel like it, then I don't know what I can do. Is an ongoing fight the only option I have to force them to follow the IEP?

    mistmouse
     
  2. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    Getting an IEP is sometimes the easy part. Getting it implemented can be a whole new ball game. An IEP doesn't do a bit of good if it isn't followed.

    I'll share some techniques that I have found helpful.

    Frankly, I've raised my eyebrow more than once when a problem crops up that's addressed in difficult child's 504 Plan and the teacher tells me something like, "He's not following directions." :confused: It seems they tend to hold him to a higher standard than they are capable of accomplishing themselves. I refer them to his 504 Plan: Do you have a copy of his 504 Plan? ("Yes.") Good -- if you'll review "XYZ" area, it will be helpful in resolving this problem. You may also want to try yadda, yadda, yadda."

    Most teachers have several students in each class that have IEPs or 504s. It's very difficult for them to remember the details of each student's plan. I try to let them know that I understand they are stretched thin, I'm not being critical, I realize they might need help from me to keep things on track, and I'm available for brinstorming to find potential solutions to problems.

    I primarily use email. It serves several purposes. 1) it leaves a paper trail, 2) it cuts out a lot of telephone tag, 3) it gives the teachers/principal/counselor some flexibility with-their schedule (it's not unusual to receive a reply sent to me either before school starts or late in the evening).

    Depending on the circumstances, I also use fax and mail (certified). I use follow-up letters or emails after informal or formal meetings or conversations.

    I try to pick my battles carefully, but I have had to involve the District Special Education Director, Principal, and TEA. In other words, I put every one on notice that there's a problem that needs to be addressed. I address the letter to the Sp Ed Director, and cc it to the teacher, principal, and/or Superintendent. If I knew then what I know now, there was a period of time where other entities would have received ccs also. lol

    The Special Education Director is the "responsible party," however, the Superintendant is actually where the buck stops at the District level. It is your State Education Agency's responsibilty to monitor and make sure Districts comply with IDEA. The U. S. Dept of Education - Office of Special Education is charged with overseeing SEA compliance. The Office of Civil Rights is charged with handling discrimination complaints involving School Districts.

    If campus level personnel are not being responsive, it's time to take it to a higher level. I'd write a Complaint Letter addressed to the Sp Ed Director and cc'd Superintendent. Make sure "Complaint" is in the reference line. Send them Certified Mail, then fax it to speed up the snail mail. I'd give them 5 days to address the problem. It would include a request for educator training in properly implementing IEPs and/or your daughters disorders. If that doesn't work, I'd write another Complaint Letter, addressed to the Superintendent and SEA. I might even cc it to other entities.

    Couple of links for you on "Getting the IEP Carried Out" from Reed Martin's site.

    https://web.archive.org/web/20050405164932/http://www.reedmartin.com/iepcarriedout.htm
     
  3. mistmouse

    mistmouse New Member

    Thanks for the links Alisha.

    This is most puzzling to me since the school district knows we just reached settlement. They also should know not only that they have to follow the IEP and the BIP that the psychologist developed because they had a staffing meeting with the psychologist prior to the start of the school year, and on the day of the IEP meeting that morning the psychologist had come to do a training session with the entire school personnel from the school my difficult child attends. I know they are aware they have to be following the IEP because the teacher made comment that she had called and asked at the SpEd office whether she had to give my difficult child the math sheet with accommodations if my difficult child was saying she didn't want that one and that she was told it was in the IEP she had to do it. It seems they want to pick and choose what they follow in the plan and if it relates to behaviors they don't want to follow the plan, but their preconceived ideas of how you deal with a problem child. They do tend to hold my difficult child to a higher level of standard than they themselves can achieve and then of course to a higher level of behavior than is expected from other fourth graders.

    After the first time my difficult child was sent home early for physical aggression (they "thought" she was going to bite the custodian), I talked with the psychologist (and she does get the final say per the settlement agreement)about my concerns that the personnel had not followed the BIP. I told her how the sequence of events played out according to what was documented by the aide on the behavior sheet for difficult child. I also told her that because the behavior sheet didn't give information that covered anything that happened after my difficult child was removed from the room for making noises that I had called and talked to the principal to find out what had happened and then related what she had told me to the psychologist.

    The psychologist then called and talked to the principal to find out what had taken place and then told her that although it was obvious the BIP had not been followed that that day was gone and difficult child had been sent home. What we now needed to do was make sure we were going to all follow the plan and now make difficult child successful in the classroom again. Psychologist said she didn't get cooperation from the principal, that instead of being interested in any discussion on how we were going to turn things around and help difficult child be successful, principal only wanted to be defensive of the actions staff had taken and wasn't willing to cooperate with psychologist at all. Psychologist did send an email to recap the conversation she had with the principal...she sent the email to the principal, me, and the director of SpEd. In the email psychologist said the principal might want to share the a certain section of the email with the teacher and aide. This area covered what the BIP and IEP do say instead of what was done. The principal never passed it on to the teacher or aide, but I did as soon as I was aware they hadn't gotten it from principal.

    A week later I had a conference with the teacher to discuss my concerns over them not following the plan and it resulting in problems for difficult child. It was not a productive conversation as teacher wanted to justify why she was doing it the way she was and at one point even told me that no, she wasn't going to send difficult child on any positive errands when she started to make noises (a first sign of her extreme anxiety building) that she felt our goal was to teach difficult child to manage her frustrations in the classroom. I followed the meeting with teacher up with a written account of the conversation and my concerns.

    The third time my difficult child was sent home early I contacted the principal by email because the times didn't coincide with the facts. In other words the principal had called me at 11:00 AM to ask whether difficult child had had her medication that morning. During that conversation I found out that difficult child was having difficulties, but she had not been physically aggressive so wasn't being sent home "yet"....although principal did say she can't remain at school acting this way. At 11:15 AM the principal called me again and told me that difficult child had pushed the aide into the doorway while she was on phone with me the first time and that now difficult child did have to go home. When I got home and read the behavior report it stated that at 10:20 AM the aide and principal physically removed my daughter to what they called an isolation room (although isolation is not supported in the BIP) and that at 10:30 AM difficult child had pushed aide into door. Principal refused to answer the email in writing. A couple of days later she mentioned in person that she had gotten my email and that the physical aggression had taken place during the time she was calling me the first time. I said, I understand that is what happened, but the times don't coincide because at 11:00 when you called me you said difficult child hadn't been aggressive. She said, oh the aide must have just looked at her time wrong. I don't believe my difficult child was aggressive and they just made this up in order to be able to send her home because that is all they can send her home for.

    After the fourth time of difficult child being sent home early and the plan hasn't been followed in one instance with the positive interventions when the first symptoms of anxiety start, I decided to call the director of SpEd. We played phone tag for two days, but I did finally talk with him Friday morning. As soon as I said I had some concerns because my daughter had been sent home early four times already and that I felt it wasn't all her fault, that I felt it was partly because the staff were not following her IEP and the BIP in it. It was like a switch was flipped from the how can I help you attitude when he came on the phone to tell me how you think they aren't following the plan. It was a frustrating phone call because he kept saying things like what if they did try to send her on an errand when the noises start and she doesn't want to go...at some point they will have to remove her from the room because she can't be allowed to continue to disrupt the rest of the class. I explained to him that they hadn't ever tried to sent her on an errand to interrupt the behavior so there was no way to know if it would have worked or not, but that her psychologist who has worked with her for 2 years did believe it would work. He kept wanting to talk around the situation of what if instead of what did happen. He then told me he was going to review the IEP and BIP and then talk to the principal, teacher, and aide and that he would even like to talk to psychologist. He said after gathering more information he would be back in touch with me.

    I had already sent a request for an IEP meeting...not because I think it will make a difference...but in order to have all this documented and discussed with all persons it concerns present.

    Another concern that I had addressed in the letter requesting the IEP was that I have a child who will no longer go to breakfast at school because she was being called the "B" word by a student who was dumping trays on a daily basis. She went to the duty personnel and they did nothing...just told her to ignore him. Also that on the one day she had difficulty at recess, which was also the day she was sent home early for pushing the aide, she was trying to get them to listen to her when she was telling them two classmates were saying mean things about her and calling her names and making fun of her. She wasn't making disruptive noises, she was trying to get an adult to listen to her about what had taken place and when they wouldn't she became very frustrated.

    Sorry this got so long, but I have tried to not only take this up with the teacher and principal, but have even talked to the director of SpEd and gotten nowhere. I would write letters but am unclear as to who I can cc them to since our superintendant was just asked to tender his resignation due to not listening to the concerns of parents and doing something, but just saying he was going to do something and then ignoring the requests.

    This is a new director of SpEd since the one that was in there when I filed due process has now been demoted due to in part her denial of services and help that would have kept us from due process.

    This is what is so puzzling to me...we just reached settlement and it was quite costly to the school district in terms of services they have to pay for that they were fighting against, the attorney's fees, the cost already incurred from the due process hearing, and a small pittance to difficult child and I. You would think they would be very vigilant at least for the first year after this settlement in making sure they bend over backwards to follow everything in the IEP to the letter. Instead it seems they haven't learned a thing.

    mistmouse
     
  4. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    Not too good at "following directions," are they?

    Couple of thoughts:

    Doesn't make any difference who the Superintendent or Sp Ed Director is -- send the letter(s) anyway. Based on what you've written, I'd cc your SEA Special Education Department also. If that doesn't work, I'd start ccing OSEP and your Regional OCR office. Enough already.

    Harrasement is illegal and the school district is responsible for controlling it. They may need a reminder. If your child has an IEP, your daughter is automatically covered under 504.

    I feel for you.
     
  5. mistmouse

    mistmouse New Member

    Thanks again Alisha...you are right, they don't seem to have the ability to follow directions, but they sure do want my difficult child to do so.

    I am not sure we even have a superintendant right now, but I will check into that. Of course I have already talked with the director of SpEd, but the next letter I write will be cc to the SEA.

    Thank you for the link on harrassment. I think it is a shame that the teachers or other duty personnel will not follow up when my difficult child tells them a child did or said something during recess, but let any other child say my difficult child did something and they have a talk with difficult child. There were many instances last year where it was written in the behavior sheet that difficult child had said a student had said or done something and the next thing in the behavior report was that "no adult had witnessed this". And yet there were many times also written into the behavior sheet where it said a student had complained my difficult child had done something and they talked with the other students on the playground and would have many "supporting" witnesses for the incident, but it wasn't an adult. difficult child was even sent home for an incident that reportedly took place on the bus to her gifted class. Students came into the Discovery classroom and said that difficult child had spit, pushed them out of their seats, and hit them so I was called to come and pick her up. When I picked her up I asked for the bus drivers report of the incident because I told them at the time it didn't seem appropriate to send her home based on what the students said. When I was called to pick her up the story was she had spit on another student. Later that day I got an email with the Discovery teachers report of what had happened according to her questioning the other students and it detailed lots of aggression. Not only that the Discovery teacher said that this all took place while the bus was parked in front of the school where they had been bussed and while they were waiting for time to leave the bus to go to Discovery class. The same day difficult child was sent home I went straight from the school to the bus barn and talked to the bus driver. At that time she told me she hadn't witnessed any spitting. All she had seen was words exchanged between some older boys when they got on the bus and sat behind difficult child. She said she couldn't hear what the boys said, but that difficult child had turned around and yelled at the boys that they better stop it or else. For this reason the bus driver said she was keeping a close eye on things. She also reported that this all took place as she was driving to another school to pick up students for the older Discovery class and before they got to the school where this class is held. Bus driver said as the students were leaving the bus some of them said difficult child had spit on them and so she told them to tell their teacher, but she didn't see this happen. Of course I had to take difficult child home regardless of supporting facts that she had actually been physically aggressive on the bus. This took place on a Friday and it was Thursday of the next week before I could finally get the bus driver's account of what took place. Not surprisingly, it didn't support the email I had gotten from the Discovery teacher...it didn't support any physical aggression. She said she didn't see difficult child do anything other than yell at the boys behind her. Of course there was no way to go back and give my difficult child back the day of school she missed due to their believing students instead of insisting on having a report from the bus driver. Unfortunately, I have had to take difficult child home many times when I felt the school personnel were as much at fault because they hadn't followed proper CPI techniques.

    I just wish I knew what was going to make this school district listen.

    mistmouse
     
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