Comments that Parents Hear: “We cannot/will not provide X service(s) to your child during after school activities or nonacademic services.”

If a parent, student or the school decides that the student will or should participate in nonacademic or extracurricular services and activities, the school must make plans that will allow the student to participate in these services and activities. As part of this process the IEP team must consider whether supplementary aids and services are “appropriate and necessary” to allow “an equal opportunity for participation”.

If the student is provided aids, services or accommodations to allow them to participate in academic activities, then it would seem that these would probably be needed to allow “an equal opportunity for participation” in nonacademic and extracurricular services and activities. If the IEP team should feel that this is not the case, the school should provide the parent with prior written notice of why these are not needed.

The school should be able to articulate the steps taken to provide the student the opportunity to participate in the services and activities. If the parent can document that these steps have not lead to an equal opportunity to participate, they can share this with the school in writing, and request a meeting to discuss “appropriate” steps to achieve the opportunity for participation. The parent can also use the IDEA and state dispute resolution processes to try to resolve disagreements on this issue.

Recall the Law

Schools (a) “must take steps, including, the provision of supplementary aids and services determined appropriate and necessary by the child’s IEP Team, to provide nonacademic and extracurricular services and activities in the manner necessary to afford children with disabilities an equal opportunity for participation in those services and activities.” “(b) Nonacademic and extracurricular services and activities may include counseling services, athletics, transportation, health services, recreational activities, special interest groups or clubs sponsored by the public agency, referrals to agencies that provide assistance to individuals with disabilities, and employment of students, including both employment by the public agency and assistance in making outside employment available.” 300.107

“Supplementary aids and services means aids, services, and other supports that are provided to regular education classes, other education-related settings, and in extracurricular and nonacademic settings, to enable children with disabilities to be educated with nondisabled children to the maximum extent appropriate”. 300.42

Possible Responses

“My child wants/needs to participate in X activity/service. What steps needed to put into place to achieve this?”

“I am requesting that my child receive X aids, service(s) to allow them to participate in (list services and activities).”

“I do not understand why the aids, services, and supports my child receives in other settings cannot or do not need to be provided for nonacademic and extracurricular aids and services. Please try to explain again so I can understand.”

“I am requesting written notice of why my child will not receive the aids, or services they are receiving in other settings in (list nonacademic and extracurricular services and activities).”


Comments that Parents Hear: “Your child is too smart to have an IEP.”

Fact: Intelligence has no bearing on disability or need. Even individuals with genius level IQs can have a disability that affects their ability to access the curriculum.

A student with a disability and “high cognition” can have needs (organizational skills, homework completion, social skills, counseling, and classroom behavior, etc.) that need to be addressed through special education and related services.

IDEA does not require schools to help a child reach their potential. However, OSEP does say that the school should “consider information about outside or extra learning support provided to the child”.  This would include support the family is providing directly or through tutors, assistive technology, related service providers or information on the amount of time the child spends studying and doing homework.

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Comments that Parents Hear: “We place all children with Autism here.”

The IDEA regulations put an emphasis on students being served at their home campus. Courts, hearing officers, and the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) have allowed schools to place some groups of students with disabilities on one or more campuses with non-disabled students rather than on every campus.

However, the law and regulations put a priority on the concept of students being educated with their peers and in the general education classroom to the extent possible. There also must be a “continuum of alternative placements” within the school.  Also a child with a disability is not to be “removed from education in age-appropriate regular classrooms solely because of needed modifications in the general education curriculum.”

Parents should ask for the rationale for this practice and if exceptions are made and under what circumstances. Chances are the district has made exceptions for specific students. The parent could then discuss at least an exception for part of the day. Placement decisions are to be individualized and should be reviewed periodically. One size fits all models are not individualized. Circumstances/needs could have changed so that the student could be returned to the home campus at least part of the day.

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“Since your child just moved here, there is no reason to review the IEP.”

It’s time for another of Chuck’s Comments that Parents Hear posts!

How should you respond if the school says: “Since your child just moved here, there is no reason to review the IEP. We will just transfer the old goals to our new forms.”

Recall the Law

The regulations differentiate between a student who has transferred within the state and one who transferred from another state.

If the student came from another school within the same state, the new school “in consultation with the parents” must provide FAPE (Free Appropriate Public Education) to the child (including services comparable to those described in the child’s IEP from the previous public agency), until the new public agency either (1) Adopts the child’s IEP from the previous public agency; or (2) Develops, adopts, and implements a new IEP that meets the applicable requirements in 300.320 through 300.324.” 300.323(e)

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Comments that Parents Hear: “We don’t have an aide (or service, equipment item, etc.) for your child”

“We don’t have an aide (or service or equipment item, etc.) for your child, although we agree that it’s a good idea. Our budget is really tight and we just can’t afford it.”

Recall the Law

The school district must provide a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) for children regardless of cost or funding issues. The school is required to identify building resources to meet the students’ needs.

“Special education means specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability.” 300.39(a)

“Public agencies, therefore, must not make placement decisions based on a public agency’s needs or available resources, including budgetary considerations and the ability of the public agency to hire and recruit qualified staff.” comment to 300.116

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Comments that Parents Hear: “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…”

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.”

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Comments that Parents Hear: We will measure this goal by “teacher observation”.

Thursdays on the blog, Chuck Noe will be sharing posts from his Comments that Parents Hear series.  Chuck will be checking in throughout the week to respond to your comments and questions…

Recall the Law

” Sec.  300.320  Definition of individualized education program.

(a) General.  As used in this part, the term individualized education program or IEP means a written statement for each child with a disability that is developed, reviewed, and revised in a meeting in accordance with Sec. Sec.  300.320 through 300.324, and that must include– …  (3) A description of–

(i) How the child’s progress toward meeting the annual goals described in paragraph (2) of this section will be measured; and

(ii) When periodic reports on the progress the child is making toward meeting the annual goals (such as through the use of quarterly or other periodic reports, concurrent with the issuance of report cards) will be provided;”.

The Response

The law does not list any specific methods of measuring progress.  Teacher observation is one way to measure progress but it can be very subjective, which Webster defines as “placing an emphasis on one’s own moods, attitudes and opinions”.  An example of subjective teacher observation might be “I think Johnny has a better attitude today” or “I think Janie’s handwriting has improved”.  Although it might be important to have the teacher’s observations as PART of the measure of progress, you will probably need additional “objective” information.  Webster dictionary defines “objective” as “not influenced by personal feelings or prejudice, unbiased.”  “Objective” measurement might look like this: “I know Johnny is making progress toward demonstrating a positive attitude in the classroom because he made eye contact with me 4 times today, raised his hand and asked 2 questions,“ etc. or “Let’s look at Janie’s handwriting work samples over the last 3 weeks to determine what progress she has made in writing legibly”.

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