Unfortunately, parents at times realize that they are not sure of the amount of services that their child is receiving or other aspects of the delivery of related services. Recently, a parent wrote that they just learned that a COTA (Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant) rather than an OT was working with their child.

“I have used up all the time allotted on the IEP, therefore I am now only visiting your son as a favor which is why I make unscheduled visits to his class. Oh, you misunderstood, I meant that the minutes on the IEP are minimum minutes, but I don’t understand the district’s six day schedule, and my schedule is such that I cannot make scheduled visits to your child.”

Recall the Law

The IEP must state the anticipated frequency of the services and the duration of the services. Comments to the IDEA regulations say that: “The meaning of the term ‘duration’ will vary, depending on such things as the needs of the child, the service being provided, the particular format used in an IEP, and how the child’s day and IEP are structured. What is required is that the IEP include information about the amount of services that will be provided to the child, so that the level of the agency’s commitment of resources will be clear to parents and other IEP Team members. The amount of time to be committed to each of the various services to be provided must be appropriate to the specific service, and clearly stated in the IEP in a manner that can be understood by all involved in the development and implementation of the IEP.” Comment to 300.320(a)(7) page 46667 of Federal Register, Vol. 71, #156, 8/14/2006

The Response

The related service provider’s remark could be discussed with someone with authority in the special education department. A letter summarizing the situation and your concern about the impact of the inconsistency of the service on the child and requesting an ARD/IEP meeting to address the situation would be appropriate. Depending on the district’s response, a request for mediation and/or a complaint to the state may need to be considered.

As stated, it is important that the document be clear about the amount of time to be provided. Sometimes this is stated by period of time (week, six weeks, semester, or school year). Be sure to understand the period being used. Sometimes the amount of time includes time for missed therapy. It is also important to know whether therapy will be provided: individually, with a group; direct and/or by consultation; by a certified therapist or an assistant. Texas Education Agency documents on related services are at: http://tea.texas.gov/index2.aspx?id=2147496874

This article was written by Chuck Noe, PRN Education Specialist.