On Not Liking Students

Teachers expect to have some fondness for the students they teach. They enter the field motivated to help students make progress. Their desire to foster success leads them to focus on their students’ most positive attributes. Teachers become cheerleaders for their students. To the great disappointment of many teachers, certain students test that spirit of unwavering support.

Most teachers meet at least a few students they find difficult to like. Expecting to like every student is unrealistic, even for the most idealistic teachers. Special education teachers in particular are likely to work with some students who exhibit behaviors most of society would deem unacceptable. While many special education teachers elect to work with these especially needy students, actually dealing with toxic behaviors day after day can wear at a teacher’s resolve.

Teacher preparation programs tend to leave out some details. Few professors will tell a room full of undergraduates that some of their future students will be unlikeable. Acknowledging this makes starry-eyed teacher candidates uncomfortable. Although this is upsetting to consider, teachers will meet particular students who offer few redeeming or likeable qualities. In place of these qualities will be a host of unsavory attributes that have the potential to lengthen a teacher’s workday and shorten a teacher’s career. Perhaps these students are more pleasant at other times of the day, but teachers have to deal with them during school hours.

Students might be unlikeable for several reasons. Relationships are crucial in education. Sometimes issues might have to do with a mismatch in personality. A student might behave quite differently with one teacher versus another. This doesn’t account for those students with disruptive or antagonistic behaviors that interfere with every relationship they engage. A few students have personalities that bother everyone around them. Often, these students deliberately upset other people for amusement. Others have behaviors that they can’t control resulting from their conditions. They’ll act out by no fault of their own, but this doesn’t make their behaviors any easier to endure.

The larger group consists of students with unlikeable personalities. They have disagreeable, belligerent attitudes. They create problems for others and show little remorse. While some might not understand what they’re doing, some fully understand and revel in it. Teachers can strive to find the good in these students. They can consider how lonely these students might feel. They can try to make a positive difference for them. Occasionally, teachers who reach out in such a way find the students take advantage of them. All sociopaths start somewhere. Society has no shortage of people who make everything around them worse. Classrooms are dotted with budding scam artists, domestic abusers, and assailants. For as much as teachers might wish to turn these students towards more positive pursuits, this fails more often than it succeeds.

Less common are the students who are just as unlikeable, but are unable to control that which makes them so. These students might have conditions that cause them to behave in unorthodox or even violent ways. Behavior modification and medication sometimes help. Sometimes nothing helps. A teacher working with students who have autism or multiple disabilities might face a classroom with two or three students who do little but scream and hit themselves (or others) all day, every day. That teacher might want so badly to help these students, but might not be able to do much beyond keeping them safe, clean, and fed. Feelings of inadequacy are likely, but so is a sense of exhaustion. Some people only can take so much of listening to a student cry and scream to the point of exhaustion, only to repeat when strength returns.

An intriguing dichotomy in special education exists between idealistic acceptance and programmed rejection. A pervading sentiment of acceptance suggests no one should be excluded because of a disability and all differences should be accepted. At the same time, vast amounts of effort go into targeting behaviors caused by disabling conditions and attempting to extinguish these. Advocates for the rights of students with disabilities promote acceptance while practitioners identify unacceptable behaviors to eliminate. The notion of behavior modification suggests that some behaviors are too negative to exist, even if these behaviors are a natural part of who someone is.

Esoteric musing asides, teachers who work with unlikeable students face difficult scenarios. Working with students who exhibit problematic behaviors will accelerate burnout in all but a few teachers. Sadly, some new teachers end up in classes filled with difficult students because no one else wants to teach them. Too often, this forces new teachers out before they get to learn what they’re doing. Veterans can get caught in this as well. Whatever the case, when a teacher dislikes many of his or her students, something has to change. Unlikeable or not, those students are entitled to an education. If a teacher can’t muster the will to help these students despite their behaviors, that teacher might need to get out. Someone else will come along and give it a try. In the meantime, teachers do have to consider their own quality of life, which can take a hit when working with foul-tempered or out-of-control students.

Disliking a few students is human and difficult to avoid. One or two particularly unruly students can ruin a teacher’s day, week, or year. Teachers must seek support when they need it regarding troublesome students. Counselors, administrators, and other team members might be able to offer solace. Focusing on what each student needs is vital for individual teachers and for entire teams. Students found by others to be persistently irritating might be in need of highly nuanced support. Even those who are ungrateful, irrational, or outright sinister deserve a fair opportunity. School officials must remember that this isn’t just a matter of equity (which it is), but it’s a matter of the law.

On Not Liking Students

Contemplating Manifestation Determinations

Special education law has granted expansive educational opportunities to students with disabilities. Efforts to protect the educational rights of these students sometimes create scenarios that perplex rational people. Manifestation determinations present such a scenario. Explaining this process can leave one with as many questions as answers.

Discipline for students with special needs often gets misunderstood. Many school employees believe they are powerless to discipline students with IEPs. This isn’t true. School officials can discipline these students. However, a process exists to protect them from being disciplined for behavior resulting from their disabilities, or from having their educational programs disrupted by disciplinary measures. The fear of legal backlash over disciplining students with IEPs makes some school officials hesitant. This can create a culture in which discipline is unlikely, thus feeding the notion that it isn’t an option.

The point of a manifestation determination is to ascertain the fairness of potential discipline for a student with an IEP. After an incident that normally would warrant discipline, the IEP team reviews the student’s behavior and disability to decide whether or not the behavior results from (or is a manifestation of) the student’s disability. Disciplining a student because of their disability would be considered a civil rights violation. Although important exceptions exist, if a student commits an infraction because of his or her disability, the school must respond with something other than discipline. Typically, the team will revise the IEP to include some increased or different level of support.

Critics rightly question the merit of student discipline, especially for students with IEPs. Suspensions are a questionably effective manner of dealing with infractions. Altering the IEP has more potential to create a change in behavior. With students who have intense behavior disorders, IEP interventions aren’t likely to extinguish behaviors. However, the IEP team can adjust conditions that lead to disruptive behaviors. It also can standardize staff response. In these ways, manifestation determinations can lead to a more functional method of coping with student behavior than removal via suspension.

This all seems positive so far. What gets confusing is the nature of what manifestation determinations imply through their existence. By not permitting schools to discipline students for disruptive behaviors resulting from their disabilities, special education law suggests that schools must accommodate these disruptive and even dangerous behaviors. At the same time, it expects schools to work to diminish disruptive behaviors, thereby acknowledging that these behaviors really are negative for all involved.

Few people consider assault, verbal outbursts, or destruction of property to be acceptable behaviors. Our society grants law enforcement and the judicial system the authority to address such acts. Special education law tests the limits of tolerance by suggesting students can’t be denied the right to an education even if they are disrupting the rights of others. Rational people might be leery of the law’s protection of a student who assaults a teacher due to that student’s inability to control him or herself. Are students with such limitations safe to be in the general public? Should others have to accept that a person might trash a convenience store because of their disability? What is the limit to this acceptance?

A rational person might ask such questions. To counter these questions, one must remember that these behaviors might not be a student’s fault. Less intrusive behaviors like repetitive hand washing aren’t necessarily a person’s fault, either. The same would be true for urges to pick scabs, repeat what others say, or curse. Such benign behaviors don’t usually interfere with anyone else’s rights. An uncontrollable urge to masturbate in public is something different. Even if a behavior isn’t a student’s fault, that behavior might create a serious problem for others.

An unsavory aspect of special education law and of many civil rights laws is that they cast such a wide net of protection. When the law calls behavior disorders a disability (and it does so rightly—these are mental illnesses, if nothing else) and forbids discrimination based on disability, it protects students who have an array of toxic behaviors. These students often commit behaviors without reprimand, which can undermine the school community through example and pure disruption. As mentioned, reprimands might not be especially effective with some students with disabilities. Programmed attempts to redirect behaviors might prove more beneficial to the students themselves, but the matter of the safety for other students remains. Removal often has as much to do with safety as it does with discipline.

For all of the progress in special education, issues involving student discipline remain muddy. Students shouldn’t be reprimanded because of their disabilities, but if their disabilities create dangerous situations for others, schools must be able to protect everyone involved. Manifestation determinations help clarify many issues, but the existence of such protections can make protecting other students more complicated. Most aspects of special education end up making something more complicated for someone.

Contemplating Manifestation Determinations

More Thoughts On Teacher Effectiveness

A few posts ago, I detailed in what ways my lack of interest in having children might have impacted my performance as a teacher (“Being A Teacher Without Children”). I believe I have a built-in distance that influences my interpersonal skills. I’m naturally aloof and standoffish. Some coldness in me diminishes my desire to raise children. The source of this coldness might have been what helped me run an organized, efficient classroom, but it also prevented me from having the kind of empathy that some highly invested teachers cultivate. In that post, I claimed that teachers with children of their own (or who want children of their own) might be effective in ways I couldn’t be. I continue to believe this, but I feel compelled to explore further this notion of effectiveness and its roots.

To clarify, I wouldn’t claim that these teachers are highly effective because they have children. I think they have an innate sense of compassion that leads to an interest in childrearing and allows them to make particular kinds of connections. They can be effective in certain instances because of this sense. In another recent post (“When Noble Intentions…”), I mentioned how over-extending such compassion can be a detriment, at least to the larger school community. Empathy and caring are valuable qualities for teachers, but I’ve known empathetic and caring teachers who have been incompetent liabilities to their schools.

I’ve had several ideas throughout the years about what combination of skills makes for the best teacher. For a long stretch, I thought organization outshined everything. Without organization, that compassionate teacher’s bleeding heart ends up smeared all over the mess of a classroom he or she runs. The demands of running a contemporary classroom quickly overwhelm a teacher without organizational skills. Some teachers with warm personalities but haphazard organizational skills probably make up the droves leaving the field each year.

Overall management skills have been another frontrunner. I’ve considered this to be a combination of an assertive personality and the ability to multitask. Losing control of a class can make the workday intolerable. If a teacher can’t relate with students and consistently support positive behavior while fielding interruptions, even classes filled with relatively well-behaved students can get out of hand. Commanding classroom facilitators often possess the innate organizational prowess mentioned above, but not always.

Perhaps in contrast with my thoughts on teachers with children, I’ve thought that not having children might be an asset. I’ve known teachers who have thrown themselves into their work because they’ve been single and without children. The lack of distractions helped them focus on their work (which might have been a distraction from the lack of distractions). This might account for at least some part of why some teachers with these situations do so well in schools.

I’ve had another more recent idea that has supplanted some of these other notions. Maybe what makes the best teacher is intelligence. The very best educators I’ve known have been exceedingly bright. This high aptitude has enabled them to anticipate and plan. It has allowed them to deftly manage while effectively instructing. It has helped them respond insightfully and adjust accordingly. Interestingly, some of the smartest and best have also been single and childless. I’m not sure what that suggests. My sample size is probably too small to make assumptions.

The empathy piece continues to resurface, because I think that drives some teachers who might lack some of these other components. A smart teacher might not have the compassion necessary to cope with the emotional challenges of the job. Of course, this person might be able to maintain a distance that could foster perseverance in another way. I get stuck on whether feeling too much or too little would be better. I suppose different teachers have different strong suits. This brings me to my final point.

My career has taught me that a potent teacher is forged less from any of these factors than from happenstance. What makes a person excel in this profession is a fit between his or her personality and a particular school, a specific teaching assignment, or even a specific group of students. For example, I fit exceedingly well in one highly nuanced teaching situation. I would not have fit nearly as well in others. Much of the prowess others saw in me stemmed from the chemistry I mustered in that one specific position. Like with any relationship, the same spark might not have caught in other jobs.

Affect and ability need to be matched to the right scenario, allowing a teacher to find a comfortable groove. A teacher might love biology and want more than anything to teach it, but that teacher might not be able to relate to a group of disenfranchised students and might falter with them. A teacher might be well organized and assertive, but might not have the compassion and patience necessary to work with needy six year-olds. The key is finding that match. Not enough teachers or jobs exist for this match to always work. This could influence why so many leave and why so many who stay complain.

I believe the formula for an effective educator has less to do with what is inside that individual and more to do with how that individual gets matched with a teaching assignment. Some teachers will be able to make the most of a variety of situations and can grow to fit many different kinds of teaching jobs. Others will do well in one particular arrangement, but won’t be able to transfer their aptitude. The crucial point for any teacher will be finding the right niche.

More Thoughts On Teacher Effectiveness

Accommodating Parents Who Can’t Read

I can’t recall any of my undergraduate professors mentioning the potential lack of literacy among parents. This was one of those issues I had to discover and confront on my own. My experience working in human services prepared me for the possibility of parental illiteracy. Working in urban schools made it a reality.

Most of the parents I worked with were high school graduates who held some kind of blue collar or service industry jobs. A few had Bachelor’s degrees or were working towards one. Fewer than five (out of several hundred) held advanced degrees. Among those with high school diplomas or above, the vast majority could read and interpret what they read. While IEPs and ERs don’t make for riveting documents and too often rely on jargon, I could count on most parents to be able to get the gist of what the documents stated.

The minority was of more concern. Many parents were functionally illiterate. Please note: I’m not talking about being unable to read English due to language barriers. That could be addressed through translation and interpretation services (though I came to find nearly half of the non-English speaking parents I worked with weren’t able to read in their native languages). Instead, I’m talking about parents who lacked the skills to be able to read or write in any language. Across my career, I’d say a solid ten percent had no ability to read special education documents. Another ten percent had great difficulty doing so.

The illiteracy was due to several factors. I worked with some parents whom I greatly suspected had mild intellectual disabilities. Several admitted to having received special education services when they had been in school. Parents with this level of functioning were often limited to primary grade reading levels. Some couldn’t read even that well. Others seemed to have competing mental illnesses or drug addictions that inhibited their reasoning abilities. They could read the words on the page, but they couldn’t discern meaning. This was true for other parents who didn’t have mental illnesses, but had below-average cognitive functioning or some form of learning disability. Still others had intact reasoning, but had dropped out of school at too young of an age to benefit from a full course of literacy instruction. Many of the grandparents who served as stand-in parents had middle school educations at best. Even some of the high school graduates had trouble reading. Remember, students often graduate from high school with scant reading ability.

While nothing about this should be surprising, the reality of it made me refine my practice and expectations early in my career. The first clues came from seeing the writing of certain parents. As I attempted to make sense of it, I wondered if they had been able to read any of what I had sent home. One parent told me quite directly that she couldn’t read at all. I realized that anything other than phone or in-person contact might be meaningless. I couldn’t assume parents understood the documents we reviewed together. I had a narrow line to tread between insulting parents who didn’t need extra help and losing others who needed support. In true special education spirit, I erred on the side of offering too much support. I called every parent about every document. I read directly from documents and offered paraphrased explanations of each section. I explained everything to everyone.

Schools face a few issues with parents who can’t read. Teams must write IEPs to be legally defendable. This means IEPs must be sufficiently dense—most likely too dense for struggling readers to navigate. To compensate with parents who don’t understand the documents, school members of teams must not just answer questions as they come, but must preemptively explain the purpose of documents and the content of each. This should happen for all parents, but teams must take care to ensure parents struggling with literacy leave meetings fully understanding what is in print. Streamlined and simplified stand-alone documents can help parents get to the core elements of a document, but these aren’t legally binding. Relying on them could be treacherous.

Tact is crucial. Parents might not fess up to their illiteracy. Assuming parents have difficulty reading could lead to embarrassing scenarios. This makes having strong personal relationships all the more important. Teams need to establish individualized protocols for working with parents. They need to know which parents understand, which parents don’t, and how to interact with both.

The trouble is, such individualization is difficult in large schools with threadbare staff. My policy of over-explaining every document to every parent might be the safest course. It would be time consuming during meetings, but less time consuming than attempting to gauge the relative literacy of each parent. In districts with high family mobility and frequent staff turnover, the ideal of having strong relationships with parents can be out of reach. A policy of always explaining everything would help. This might be insulting to some parents, but the consequences of not explaining are twofold. First, some parents might not indicate they don’t understand and might sign off on programming with which they don’t completely agree. Second, such instances are an area of litigation waiting to be exploited. Precedent eventually might show that a parent’s agreement via signature isn’t enough to show that the parent agreed. This might be provable in cases involving parental illiteracy.

Special educators need to keep in mind the complicated needs of parents. Illiteracy is quite real and alarmingly common. With so much riding on documentation in special education, school officials must find creative and tactful ways to ensure parental understanding of documents. This isn’t just a suggestion of a best practice; it’s a necessity.

Accommodating Parents Who Can’t Read

How Parents Assure Quality Through Persistence

In special education, the most challenging cases schools face aren’t necessarily the ones involving students with the most intense disabilities. Instead, schools might have the greatest difficulty managing cases involving the most demanding parents. Tense relationships can develop between the schools that attempt to provide for students and the parents who insist that what the schools provide is never enough. Progress can get stymied as the parties bicker. However, sometimes the students at the center of these flurries end up with better than average IEPs. Some adage about squeaky wheels would apply here.

Highly involved parents get disproportionate attention by the virtue of being demanding. These parents establish reputations that might follow them throughout their children’s school careers. School officials handle such cases with extra care. The school members of IEP teams give special attention to the wording of documents and have heightened insistence about the correct implementation of services. Nervousness over the possibility of due process leads to the creation of IEPs that indulge the whims of parents. In an effort to avoid conflict, schools can end up creating model IEPs.

This level of commitment to quality should be available for all students with IEPs, regardless of their parents’ relative involvement. Unsurprisingly, it isn’t. Schools scramble to appease persistent parents. With absentee parents, schools might succumb to complacency. School officials meet with frustration when attempting to correspond and collaborate with parents who would rather not be bothered. Calls to home go unanswered and unreturned. Certified mail gets returned undelivered. IEP teams have to meet without parents. These meetings can be little more than perfunctory formalities. Understanding that parents won’t be paying attention, teams might create generic IEPs so team members can move on with their respective days.

The imbalance in attention can disproportionately affect poor students. Schools serving impoverished communities often see less parental participation in IEP creation than schools in more affluent communities do. While multiple factors fuel the imbalance in opportunities between blighted and wealthy schools, parental attention to special education protocols widens the gap. This simply compounds the dearth of opportunities for students in underfunded schools.

Even in schools serving economically depressed communities, the most vocal parents are more likely than absentee parents to secure the best crafted and most carefully implemented IEPs for their children. What tends to happen in any school is these parents unintentionally take attention away from other students. Administrators and teachers focus on the sensitive cases while merely making time for less urgent cases. The attention shift isn’t just in the details of the documents. The less urgent cases actually can suffer as the more urgent ones consume school officials.

As cases become heated, school officials become immersed in documentation, possibly in preparation for mediation or due process hearings. Only so many hours exist in a workday. The layers of paperwork and protocol generated in sensitive cases quite literally devour the time available for school employees, causing them to have to delay more routine maintenance of other cases. Planning and preparing for instruction can get interrupted. Teachers can get called out of their classes to attend emergency meetings to deal with sensitive cases. Special education teachers frequently find they spend grossly imbalanced amounts of time and effort on just a handful of the students on their caseloads.

Parents can’t be blamed for this, however. They are entitled to want the best for their children. In many cases, parents have to be vocal and insistent because schools would otherwise fail to provide adequate support. While parents influence the actions of school officials, they aren’t the ones selecting to disregard less sensitive cases. School officials prioritize out of fear of legal sanctions. The root of this fear really is the special education law that allows parents to seek damages for mistakes made by schools. Ideally, schools would be able to provide for all students with special needs without being harangued to do so. With the myriad constraints schools face, the ideal can be out of reach. Complicating this are parents who demand something beyond the ideal.

For as time and resource consuming as this might be, school teams should create every IEP as though an attorney will be reviewing it. Scrutiny of this level—especially in the early grades—might simultaneously prevent later conflict with parents while ensuring effective programming for students. An early investment in program design could pay dividends for all parties involved. If solid programming and stable relationships are formed early, schools might not have to operate under educational triage later. Those squeaky wheels shouldn’t be the only ones getting grease. Actually, they shouldn’t have to be squeaky in the first place, but that might be chasing an ideal.

How Parents Assure Quality Through Persistence

How Teams Neglect The IEP After The Meeting

The IEP is the core of special education services. Creating an IEP should be a multistep and thoughtful process involving structured collaboration. From the creation of the IEP, teams are charged with the effective delivery of services. An IEP is only as effective as the members of a given IEP team, though. Implementation depends on factors that aren’t always anticipated while the team is gathered at the IEP meeting.

Schools are complicated places. The professionals working in them are human (for now). These professionals find themselves pulled in multiple directions as they attempt to serve students. They get distracted, frustrated, and exhausted. They also make judgments as they prioritize their responsibilities. The most immediate, pressing matters tend to force all other responsibilities out of the way. Unfortunately, this can mean crucial components of a well-designed IEP can get neglected.

Such negligence typically isn’t willful. It’s usually circumstantial. Team members find themselves using a form of educational triage to get through their days. Special education teachers might face this possibility more than other team members. They might be IEP coordinators, but often they’re charged with teaching content as well. When team teaching or even teaching outright to small classes of students with IEPs, the time spent planning, grading, and physically instructing can supplant time spent orchestrating the provisions of IEPs. These teachers might end up addressing what accommodations they have the time to address, selecting either the most crucial ones or those they can arrange in the shortest order. Indeed, some IEPs call for accommodations that require more of special education teachers than they have time to provide, even though their primary responsibility (despite what principals assign them to do) is ensuring the implementation of all parts of the IEP.

Others factors beyond the team’s control can interfere with implementation. As mentioned, an IEP might demand more from the special education teacher than is practical or feasible. Teams might underestimate the difficulty of providing a particular set of accommodations, or they might include accommodations that really aren’t reasonable just to placate a parent. In other scenarios, something mandated by an IEP might not be possible because a program might cease to be available or a staff member who would’ve provided it might get cut. Situations like these don’t constitute negligence, but they can result in important parts of the IEP getting neglected. An special education teacher might be unable to address the IEPs of several students if he or she has one particularly needy student whose behavior or health needs create daily emergencies. Sometimes the needs of such students trump all other concerns. Again, educational triage like this isn’t willful or accidental negligence, but it can result in one or more students not getting what their IEPs detail.

A different scenario is less excusable but also likely. A special education teacher might come to devalue the IEP and dismiss its worth. To such a teacher, the IEP might appear to be a formality, but not a necessary instructional tool. It might be something to write and check off of a to-do list rather than something to implement. Some experienced teachers might feel they can respond to the needs of students without having to use IEPs as guides. With or without experience, a callous few might see the IEP as an intrusion rather than the basis for services. While the majority of special education teachers probably don’t feel this way, the attitude isn’t rare.

Ask a special education teacher to describe the most tedious aspect of the job and the answer likely will have something to do with paperwork. Everything that happens in special education involves documentation. Some aspiring teachers enter the field unprepared for this aspect of the job, while some veterans decry the need for such ever-increasing detail. Nearly everyone agrees the mass of paperwork can overwhelm those who have to process and respond to it. At the center of this red tape tornado is the IEP.

To many special education teachers, the IEP is the embodiment of paperwork imbroglio. An IEP can be dozens of pages long. The information within can be redundant by design. Teams must write IEPs to be highly specific using what can feel like cumbersome parlance. They must base the IEP on mounds of student data. After creating the IEP, teams must document progress towards goals and objectives. Paperwork begets paperwork. All of this paperwork must be in accordance with inflexible timelines. Some special education teachers become resentful of having to manage this beast. Even though these teachers often get extra preparation periods for paperwork completion, a common complaint is the lack of time for dealing with it all. Cynics (realists?) will cite the number of hours they’re contracted to work and cut their losses regarding what they can’t finish. Unsavory paperwork might be saved for another time day after day.

Just as the IEP can lapse as a priority, the IEP meeting runs the risk of becoming an event rather than a juncture in an ongoing conversation. Again, due to lack of time or lack of understanding, many special education teachers view the IEP meeting as a once-and-done event to get through and put behind them. Special education teachers often have apprehension about the IEP meeting. They approach the meeting expecting too much to be riding on it. Not that the meeting isn’t important, but it isn’t intended to be the beginning or end of the collaboration with the rest of the team, especially the parent. Teams can meet as often as needed. The conversation about a student’s education is meant to continue through progress monitoring and reporting. Even if an IEP meeting is productive and all parties leave the meeting satisfied with the program, the meeting isn’t the end of the team’s partnership. The meeting should be one face-to-face moment in a continuing discussion.

The special education teacher isn’t the only team member who might struggle to adhere to the IEP. Most students with IEPs receive instruction in general education classes. The general education teachers working with these students are all expected to provide the specially designed instruction detailed in the IEP. The special education teacher is to assist with this, in some cases being the one providing it. However, the general education teacher might be expected to provide the accommodations. Ensuring this happens—and happens effectively—is a perennial issue in special education. The general education teacher might not have the flexibility or expertise to properly implement the IEP. Worse than this, the general education might view having to accommodate for special education students as an intrusion. Deliberate neglect of IEPs by general education teachers is a legitimate issue in some schools.

All of this is troubling for students and parents. The program that drives special education services can get cast aside following the meeting to create it. Crucial services can get put on hold, as items teams will get to when they get the chance. Whether by uncontrollable circumstance or cold refusal, IEPs can go neglected. Of course, team members from the school aren’t the only ones who might neglect IEPs. Students infrequently know much about their own programs, which could be a failing of other team members. Many parents don’t know enough about their children’s IEPs to be able to recognize if schools are being negligent, thus allowing schools to get away with it.

Teams disregard IEPs for many reasons, some more forgivable than others. Students run the risk of missing needed services as team members fail to implement IEPs. Schools run the risk of getting hit with compensatory education suits depending on what team members neglect and how involved the parents happen to be. All invested parties need to remember that IEPs are living programs, not just official documents. They should be regarded as user guides for how to meet student needs. Having systems for keeping IEPs on the forefront of daily instruction is crucial for teams looking to avoid the trap of neglect.

How Teams Neglect The IEP After The Meeting

Early Intervention: What To Expect (Repost From Kokuanetwork.com)

Below is an article about early intervention I wrote for kokuanetwork.com. Visit Kokua Network to find resources for parents of children with special needs.

http://kokuanetwork.com/early-intervention-what-to-expect/

Early Intervention: What To Expect (Repost From Kokuanetwork.com)