Update - Finally Received IEP Copy - Our Request Denied for Writing Accommodations

Discussion in 'Special Ed 101' started by WearyWoman, Feb 15, 2011.

  1. WearyWoman

    WearyWoman Guest


    I am so upset right now, I could just scream. We went for Bubby's IEP meeting in December, and I posted here recently that we never received a copy of the IEP afterward. We requested that Bubby receive a keyboard/portable word processor accommodation for the second time. Bubby has Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified and we endure significant homework battles over written work. It is hard for Bubby to write well, and he is easily overwhelmed by sentence writing. Everyone seemed agreeable to it at the time of our meeting, including Bubby's classroom teacher and the Special Education teacher. The autism specialist did not come to the meeting. The occupational therapist did not come to the meeting.

    This is the e-mail we received today from the Special Education teacher (names changed to protect identities):
    Our Special Education secretary usually sends out the IEPs once they are completed. I am sending home a copy of Bubby's IEP with Bubby today.
    With regards to the word processing device, the occupational therapist felt that Bubby has the ability to perform writing/spelling assignments but needs to take his time. She also indicated that the Alpha Smarts are used when students are more proficient at keyboarding skills.
    In my classroom, Bubby has used the Smart Board for some spelling activities. Bubby has been doing well with regards to his spelling class. The classroom teacher also indicated that Bubby does complete any longer writing assignments for her without any needed accommodations.
    The Autism Specialist was contacted by the classroom teacher and it was decided that since Bubby has been doing so well this year that any other modifications were not needed at this time.
    I hope this has answered your questions.

    I am livid that during the meeting none of these points were mentioned by the school personnel in attendance. Nobody stated that Bubby is doing fine without assistance. We left thinking they agreed with us, and then they fail to send us a copy of the IEP and decide amongst themselves (including the Occupational Therapist (OT) and Autism Specialist who couldn't be bothered to attend the IEP) that they will not make the accommodations.

    Please advise . . . ugghhh!
  2. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Dear Special Education teacher,

    At the IEP meeting, there was agreement among all present that Bubby was to have a keyboard/portable word processor accommodation for all classes. While Occupational Therapist (OT) and Austism specialist have valuable input, since the school did not include them on the IEP team (they were not at the meeting), they do not have the legal authority to override the IEP team. I expect that Bubby will have an AlphaSmart or similar device made available to him for all classes no later than Monday, February 21. This accomodation was agreed upon in December and the teachers that have not been allowing him to use a keyboard/portable word processor are in violation of his IEP.

    I will call you on Monday to confirm that this was addressed with all of Bubby's teachers and that the AlphaSmart was provided for his use. Also, to avoid this problem in the future I must insist on being given the written copy of his IEP prior to leaving the meeting so that I have the opportunity to review it for accuracy in a timely manner.

    Thank you so much for your help in this matter,

    Mrs. WearyWoman
    Be prepared for them to push back, but just stay calm and insistant that the IEP team agreed to this and that their poor record keeping does not allow them to change this later. If they keep insisting that they will not do it, call for an IEP meeting (actually try to make them call for an IEP meeting). At 9 years old, you have many years ahead of you with this district. Calm, polite stubborness is necessary.
  3. WearyWoman

    WearyWoman Guest

    JJJ - Thanks for responding. I am interested in what you stated about the Occupational Therapist (OT) and Autism Specialist not being a part of the IEP team. Their names are crossed out on the front of the IEP evaluation report where it states "IEP Team Participants Attending or Participating by Alternate Means in the Meeting". If they don't attend the meeting, are they not part of the IEP team? If so, I didn't know that.

    I love how effectively and concisely you stated the request in your post. We will definitely use it in following up on this. You're right to consider the long-term relationship here and that we need to remain calm and firm.

    This is exactly the information we need. Thank you!
  4. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Maybe a better way to word that sentence about the Occupational Therapist (OT) and AS...

    "While Occupational Therapist (OT) and Austism specialist have valuable input, they did not attend the most recent IEP meeting and they do not have the legal authority to override the IEP team."

    IEP teams work by consensus, if they aren't at the meeting they do not have all of the information that evolves during the discussion.
  5. WearyWoman

    WearyWoman Guest

    Okay, so if I understand correctly, though, the Occupational Therapist (OT) and Autism Specialist are not officially part of the IEP team if they did not attend the annual meeting?
  6. rlsnights

    rlsnights New Member

    Did you sign the IEP at the meeting?

    If so, was the IEP altered since the meeting? In this case, were the specified accommodations changed? Was there a goal written in regards to his use of the keyboard equipment (there should have been) that was removed or changed?

    If so, then they have unilaterally changed the IEP and they are not allowed to do that without prior notice - i.e. telling you in writing with enough notice that you can object in writing and request a new IEP meeting.

    If you signed a "blank" form without seeing the exact text/completed document do not do that again. This is what can happen when you do.

    There is no reason why they cannot complete the IEP and give you a copy to take home from the meeting. Right then.

    It can be handwritten and, if they like, they can send you a type written one later. But you should leave the meeting with the actual document in your hand.


    Tell them you want to review it for accuracy, or sleep on it, or show it to your spouse or whatever you like. You can say nothing at all. Just don't sign it at the meeting - take it home and do all those things - check for accuracy, etc. Then sign and return it - after you have made a copy of it for your own records.

    If you did not sign the IEP then the previous IEP holds until replaced by a completed, signed IEP.

    If you did not sign the IEP - and that's why they sent you this one home - do NOT sign it as agreeing.

    You can sign that you agree to the services included in the IEP except - and then write in what you do not agree to, in this case that the use of a keyboarding device was agreed to at the meeting and that accommodation has been removed without your consent.

    Or you can refuse to sign it altogether and request (in writing) an additional meeting. If you do that, in your letter to them, you should be very specific about the attendance of all the people involved (if you want them there) - the autism person, the Occupational Therapist (OT), the classroom teacher - everybody.

    Be aware however that if they are opposed to your idea now they will probably still be opposed at the meeting.

    I think you should probably do something in response to this incident because you want to make it clear to them, in a nice way, that you are not a push over and they can't just change the IEP without your consent. It's a power issue as well as a legal one but they probably know that you aren't going to go to due process over this so they are pushing you around a little. Push back but keep your goals in mind and do so in moderation.

    Now, having said all that, I think you should carefully consider their input on this subject. I realize that you feel strongly about this topic but you also need to be open to hearing from the people actually teaching your child what they see and why they hold the opinions that they do. I have made this mistake just a few times in the 10+ years I have been attending IEP meetings for one kid or another. I have decided in advance that a particular solution is the "right" one and been pretty unyielding when the teachers didn't want to go along. Sometimes I got my way - only to discover that they were ... right. Ugh. Egg on face. Not pretty.

    Perhaps, instead of providing a keyboard, his homework should be modified? How do you know that homework battles will be fewer/milder if he has a keyboard? Have you used one at home with success? If not, then you may want to try this before pushing them to provide one. Perhaps a gentler approach to handling this situation is to ask the Special Education teacher very nicely if you might borrow an Alpha Smart or whatever to use at home for a week to see how Bubby does with it?

    If Bubby has used one at home and it's improved things immensely then you should make sure they know about it. Put it in writing when you tell them how you object to their unilateral change to the accommodations called for in the IEP.

    In my experience, homework is often a battle because it is too much - after a full school day the kid is done in and needs time to transition to a new setting (home) with different expectations,etc. Bringing school home by requiring homework that is in his area of weakness may be the bigger issue.

    I don't know - I just think you need to be really clear what the problem is and then put it to the school people - here's the problem, what's your solution? The problems really are legally theirs to solve. You can disagree with their solutions but strategically it's often better to just keep repeating the problem or variations on the problem or point out the problems with their solutions than to actually propose your own solution. A lot of the time they will end up where you want them to be - or you will all realize that you need to look at the problem from a different angle - like homework modifications vs. keyboard.

    Finally, to try to answer your question about who is legally a member of the team, I think it best to refer you to the #1 authority on these things - Wright's Law. Here's a link to the webpage that covers that info.

    Last edited: Feb 16, 2011
  7. WearyWoman

    WearyWoman Guest

    rlsnights - Thanks for your really informative post. We signed the IEP portion on the front where it lists the "IEP participants attending or participaiting by alternate means in the meeting". This is the only thing we signed.

    In the section labeled Special Factors, where it states, "Does the student need assistive technology services or devices?, the box is checked yes. Below where it says, "if yes, specify particular device(s) and service(s), sensory strategies and "check on word processor" are listed. Now, again, we did not actually see this until yesterday because we didn't have a copy. I completely see your point now about requesting a copy (unsigned) at the meeting, even if it's handwritten.

    We go through homework battles nightly due to the written requirements. Bubby loves using our computer keyboard. I guess anything techy is better than a pencil and paper in his mind. I believe with all my heart that it will help us at home. We have requested reduced homework assignments, but he has math, reading, and spelling work every night. Plus, sometimes there are extra projects as well.
  8. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    We're fighting a similar battle with Jett's teachers... Reading accomodations are to be made, but they're not doing it in MATH and HISTORY.

    OK. History is a no-brainer - reading. DUH.

    Math? We specifically requested assistance with WORD PROBLEMS OF ALL KINDS. If there's anything other than a number or (I can't remember what they're called, the + and - and x and /) - he is to get help.

    THAT is on the SIGNED IEP. But it's not happening. Jett is GREAT in math, but is currently getting D's because he has trouble with reading word problems and instructions. We have another meeting coming up, because at the rate he's going, he's going to have to repeat 6th grade MATH. (oh, yeah - he has 2 "tutoring" periods - first, what about having enough credits and second, why isn't he getting help then?

    Seriously, though. If you believe this strongly - don't let it go. And don't sign anything until he gets what he needs.
  9. rlsnights

    rlsnights New Member

    If the written IEP currently matches the one agreed upon at the meeting and you are satisfied with the rest of it then you should sign at the end on the page where it says you *agree* or it may say accept the services. Then you have come pretty close to getting them by the ### hairs. Once it is in writing in the IEP they are legally bound to provide those services/accommodations until they can call a new IEP meeting and revise it - at which point you may refuse to agree to the IEP.

    In either case - fail to provide the keyboard or try to revise the IEP - you can request mediation/due process.

    You might want to call the folks who objected and make sure they understand that Bubby is using this kind of equipment at home with great success and you'd appreciate their explaining why they feel it's not an appropriate accommodation at school too. If you can understand things from their point of view so you can devise a "comeback" to that particular position because if they feel strongly about this it will be back on the table at the next IEP meeting or they will simply not do it and force you into choosing whether to fight them over using a keyboard.

    And I don't know if "word processor" is going to get you what you want. It's a very generic description and if you think that might be a problem then you may want the wording to say "using a device like the Alpha Smart". You want the intent made clear but give a little wiggle room for exactly which device is used. Also it is important that the IEP say whether the device is to only be used at school or is to travel back and forth between home and school.

    Finally, if they didn't create a goal incorporating the use of the keyboard there really should be one there. This will help to make it clear what the IEP team's intent was in calling for that accommodation and if written expression is an identified concern in the earlier part of the IEP it is supposed to be addressed via a goal.

    An example of a goal might be:

    *Bubby currently does all written work by hand and types 3 words per minute when using an Alpha Smart as measured by XYZ typing test.
    *By June 2011 Bubby will be doing 25% of all written work in the classroom using an Alpha Smart and will type at 20 words per minute with fewer than 5 errors per minute as measured by XYZ typing test.
    *By January 2011 Bubby will be doing 50% of all written work in the classroom using an Alpha Smart and will type 40 WPM with fewer than 5 errors per minute as measured by XYZ typing test.
    *This goal meets State standards for fourth grade (or whatever your State calls them) 4.XX.x which requires the development of proficiency with technology (hopefully it specifically says keyboarding).

    In our State, all IEP's must now include a reference to the State standards that a particular goal addresses. If your State has a list of standards by grade level it should be listed somewhere on your State's Dept of Ed website. Print yourself a copy of it cause it may turn out to be your hole in one. If you can find a standard that supports your position you have a really useful tool to get them to do what you want since the standard is supposed to be the level of general instruction available to all students. Hee Hee... gotcha!

    And in our state (California) there is a technology proficiency goal for every grade incorporated into the new State Standards which were issued a couple years ago.
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2011
  10. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Not all states have the parent sign the IEP at the end of the meeting. If consensus has not been reached, then refuse to end the meeting. We continued one of Kanga's meeting 5 times because we couldn't agree.
  11. rlsnights

    rlsnights New Member

    Good point.
  12. WearyWoman

    WearyWoman Guest

    This discussion is really eye-opening for me.

    First, you can believe this or not, but there is nowhere to sign the IEP except where we signed on the front showing our attendance, "IEP Team Participants Attending or Participating by Alternate Means in the Meeting". I thought we were just signing that we attended. There is no other location for a signature giving our consent, etc.

    Second, I think the word processor assistive technology statement in the IEP is very vague. Again, in the Special Factors section of the IEP, under part (E), it states, "Does the student need assistive technology services or devices?" The box is checked "yes". Below, it simply lists "sensory strategies" and "check on word processor". So, it's unclear to me whether or not the word processing device is required by the current IEP.

    We are in a very small, rural school district, and unfortunately, it seems like they are behind the times in terms of available resources and technology. I think it's completely reasonable in terms of Bubby's disabilities. It is written in his IEP that Bubby's homework should consist of the essentials only and nothing extra, but there is homework every night. His behavioral aides work on it with him, and some nights we do too. It's taking up a lot of time because we start out with serious resistance and avoidance tactics on his part, then we move to the reluctantly doing it, but in an angry, messy way, followed by an abrupt walking away when things get too frustrating. Some nights we simply don't get the work done. It's too much of a battle for all involved. I wholeheartedly believe that the written requirements are overwhelming for Bubby and are responsible for a lot of his resistance. A keyboard will make his assignments much more manageable for him, especially as he heads into 4th - 6th grade.

    In the IEP meeting, the Special Education and classroom teachers acknowledged Bubby's difficulties with handwriting. Neither said a word that he is doing fabulously with long written assignments. Yet after the meeting they have a completely different conversation amongst themselves and decide not to implement the technology they led us to believe he would get? Maybe that's legal since the IEP was so vague about the use of a word processor.

    I know other kids with disabilities have these sorts of accommodations. I don't understand why every step is so challenging for us. Bubby is in a regular classroom full-time, with the exception of small amounts of time for speech and spelling. He is expected to do all of the regular classroom work, for the most part. Other than speech, 30 mins/wk of Occupational Therapist (OT) for handwriting/sensory, and 90 mins./wk of spelling help, Bubby is getting no additional classroom modifications. He has Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) and severe ADHD. Is this so out of line to request that we reduce unnecessary frustration and time with handwriting for assignments in which handwriting is not being assessed in the first place?
  13. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    in my opinion - let them tie themselves in knots. You do what you need to, to get the IEP fixed; in the meantime, have him use the keyboard/computer to do his homework, then sign the bottom every.single.time. with a statement that you observed him doing this. Take pictures if you must. Honestly, if the handwriting's not being assessed, then it makes little difference.

    In 3rd grade, Jett came home with a project that was supposed to be done in class. The kids had been working on it for 3 weeks. The note that accompanied it was full of frustration because the teacher could NOT get Jett to write his sentences. I sat down, had Jett tell me what he wanted to say, typed it for him (in exactly the same words, which made me cringe as I have a degree in English), then printed it. I had JETT cut it out and glue it to the project. Then I fired off an email to the teacher about exactly what we had done and why - it took all of ten minutes.

    Jett is still asked to write, but they have more computers now, so it's a little less frustrating...
  14. rlsnights

    rlsnights New Member

    Ok. So either your school district or LEA (not necessarily the same thing) are using a standard form that conforms to state-wide procedures or they are not. I don't know what state you are in so I can't check on it. You can do so by going to your state''s Dept of Ed website and seeing if they have that info there or, better yet, calling them with that question.

    I would also ask the Dept of Ed what procedure you are supposed to follow if you do not agree with the IEP because the implementation agreed upon during the meeting has been unilaterally changed by the school. Are you supposed to return the IEP with a note written on the document stating that you no longer agree to the whole thing? To the part that has been changed? Are you supposed to send them separate written notice that you do not agree? Was it right for them to have you sign the IEP prior to the start of the meeting?

    While the current issue is kind of minor compared to what it could be, you need to know this stuff since you don't know what might happen in the future.

    If the part you quoted is representative of the whole IEP then I would not be surprised if they invented their own form and assumed that all parents would always agree. If you agree why bother have you say so with a separate signature? Argh.

    About the keyboard - having it say "check on keyboard" is not any kind of commitment to providing a keyboard in my book. You might be able to make a case for it in mediation but I doubt it.

    Are the goals any good? Goals should be written in such a way that if you up and moved to a new place, the current goals could be used without having to make any changes and without anyone having to figure out what is meant and how to measure progress. Goals that say things like "Johnny is having trouble reading at grade level. In one year Johnny will be reading at grade level." are probably not worth the paper they are written on.

    They should typically have the following parts (see the example I gave you earlier, it has all these parts although the language about % written work is a little vague):

    1. Current achievement - a specific, clear measurement of his current achievement in the area of the goal.
    2. Either a single goal for 1 year from now that uses the same exact form of measurement and is written in clear, specific language or an interim goal and a 1 year goal.
    3. How the goal meets State standards if this applies in your State or you want them to include that in the goal.

    My guess is they don't write very many IEP's and are unskilled at writing a good IEP. They are sloppy (thus the "check on keyboard" statement) and aren't necessarily trying to keep Bubby from having what he needs.

    I suggest you check out the Wright's Law website and consider ordering some of their materials on how to write goals and how to manage the IEP process so you are able to help write concrete, measurable goals and can recognize when something possibly illegal is going on - like the general ed teacher not being at the meeting - so you can nicely bring these little issues to their attention.

    Before you do anything else I think it might be a good idea to talk to your Dept. of Ed about the procedural questions as this may mean the IEP as it stands doesn't meet the legal standards and has to be re-written. Plus they should be able to advise you on how to handle the whole "where do I sign" question.

    As for the homework thing. been there done that x 3. So here is what I finally did that seemed to work for us. I asked his teacher(s) how long they felt the homework should take the average child in their class to complete each day. The National Education Association says that in the early grades homework should be roughly 10 minutes per grade. So that would be 30 minutes in 3rd grade. If the teacher said it should take 10 minutes, then that is how long I had my child work on the homework. If it was 30 then that's what was done.

    Then I would write on the always incomplete work that my child had worked on the homework for 30 minutes. And then I would sign it, put it in the backpack and that was it. If the teacher complained then it was the perfect opportunity to talk about your child's difficulties in doing the homework and to ask the teacher what she wants you to do and how long your child should be expected to work on it. Very few teachers are going to say that a 3rd grader should spend 2 hours doing homework and it is your job to make them get specific. If they say until it is done then say - so if it takes him 3 hours that's how long you want him to work on it? If they say, well no, then you should tell me so I (teacher) can go over it with him the next day you say, Ok so then if he works on it for 2 hours is that what you expect? And so on. when you do this the teacher usually grasps the fact that their expectations are out of line and modify them.

    If his grades fall, then you call for a team meeting and bring this to their attention. You should keep sample homework assignments when he brings them home graded that support your position. Hopefully you can indirectly lead the team to conclude that they should grade on and give Bubby credit for work completed rather than for the whole assignment. This is a typical strategy used widely when a child is unable to handle a full homework load. If he does 10 math problems then he is given 100% if he got all 10 right, regardless of the fact that the assignment was for 30 problems. If he got 5 right then he gets 50%.

    These kinds of strategies are outlined in the books on writing IEP goals that are available through Wright's Law and other places.

    I will also tell you that when my kids were in 5th grade they had a teacher who didn't believe in learning disabilities or in following IEP's. The principal backed her up, even in the face of direct orders to do things differently when the school district Special Education person found out.

    Anyway, she would assign 60 math problems a night on a routine basis. On top of spelling, etc. When I tried to get her to agree to letting my son do every other problem she informed me this was unacceptable. When I tried to get her to accept the completed work she refused.

    So I did his homework for him once he had worked on the problems for 30 minutes or whatever. Since he refused to show his work it was very easy - I just had him write the answers on the sheet.

  15. WearyWoman

    WearyWoman Guest

    Stepto2 - Yes, we're going to try the word processing system at home for Bubby's spelling, and we, like you, write things down for Bubby when writing is not being assessed, i.e. math problems. Sometimes I wonder where in the world the common sense is in all of this.

    rlsnights - I am going to look into the process for my state with the IEP procedures. I am uneducated about it, and that is being exploited by the school system. Our in-home autism specialist has given us contact information for parent advocate services. I'm sorry to hear of your rough experiences with a teacher/school. It's hard enough raising a special needs child, let alone this stress. It's time for us to get more assertive. I have some phone calls to make and some work to do. Thanks for all the info. I'll keep you posted.
  16. cordelia

    cordelia New Member

    Way to go MOM! Recognizing a totally overwhelmed child and teaching him how to solve problems not create bigger ones!!!!!!!
    My sister in law chastised (sp) me for years because I helped my kids type their assignments. She told me it was cheating. It's their work for pete's sake!!! I just removed the obstacle that prevented them from succeeding. How proud they were of the funky fonts we created for just the right assignment. by the way, my eldest son just finihsed his masters in graphic arts graduating 1st in his class. Love to remind sister in law how much I "hindered" my son by helping him learn how to solve problems the right way.
  17. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    What accommodations are you expecting, exactly, when it comes to writing problems?

    There's two kinds of writing problems (at least) - one is "physical" - the kid can't control the pen/pencil/paper and/or remember how to form the letters consistently, so can't "write" (print, handwrite).
    The other is dysgraphia - a Learning Disability (LD), which is a different story.
    And you can have both.

    The problem with the first problem is $$. Computers are expensive to buy and to keep running, and invite all sorts of other problems (misuse by the kid, for example). BUT - if the problem is "physical" (or neuromotor or whatever), it is a disability, and they MUST accommodate.
    In some SDs, they won't come up with the computer or the funding... but would allow you to buy your own.
    (there's a whole raft of reasons why its easier to learn to type than it is to learn to write)
    *** and then you have the whole issue of who teaches the typing skills, and document management, and etc., and where and when ***

    The second problem has to do with difficulties getting stuff in the brain "out". Typing doesn't make this ANY easier. The accommodations are totally different - oral exams, for example, or a highly-trained scribe for all written work. Usually means having a dedicated EA in-class, for a minimum.
  18. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Another really good resource is PACER center based inMN but does outreach and knows laws of each state. Their website is easy to use. every state has a special education site usually through the state dept of ed. that will also list specifics but many rules are federally based. Read the signature page carefully. For example ours says if this is NOT a first IEP then no signature within (I think) 10 days means you agree. You must actually check the I do not agree with this IEP box in order to disagree even if it is on one small point (and I have done this many times, it is not a big deal...they must get it right). I do not do homework with my son anymore. It was not worth upsetting every minute we had together and he has enough support in school (but he is quite delayed so at his own pace anyway...obviously this doesn't work for lots of kids but in our case it was the answer). I participate by going to the school and volunteering in many things weekly. Really amazing suggestions on this site. I am glad to have found it.

    ps anyone know why my signature wont save or show up in my posts. I have to retype each time. There is no button for a new post either so I can't introduce myself or ask any questions. I am sure I am missing something that is obvious but any help is welcomed.

    Thanks, me: 47 yr old single adoptive mom to son (adopted at age 2)
    son/difficult child 14 yr old with autism, acquired brain injury (surgery at age 2 to remove blood filled mass leaving frontal and temporal lobe injury with overall mass effects), borderline cogntive delays, anxiety, adhd, temporal lobe seizures, attachment issues. Symptoms: severe anxeity and fight or flight responses, impulsive, verbal and physical aggression, social and communication issues. Loves watching sports, really desperately wants friends-not much of a clue though,smile...loves swimming and therapeutic horseback riding.
  19. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Buddy -

    If you are IN a thread, you can't start a new thread, only reply.
    If you go UP one level to the forum - in this case General Parenting - you can "start new thread".
    Please do... we'd love to "meet" you!

    Sig - at the top of the page is a button for "my profile". That will take you to where you can edit your sig - and other settings.