Despite nearly 15 years practicing special education law in Connecticut, there are still some old tricks which school districts employ which astound me. Not that I am surprised that they continue to do it, but rather, that they think I won’t notice after all of this time.
One of the oldest tactics is when special education administrators “cherry pick” which educators will attend a child’s IEP meeting.
This strategy seems to me to be most used when invitations are sent out to the “regular education teacher.”
I’ve talked before about who is necessary to make an IEP meeting duly constituted by law, which in many cases includes the attendance of a regular education teacher. I have also written about the sudden and amazing “blossoming” that occurs with my clients once their school district finds out that the parents have hired a special education lawyer. But since I almost always receive all of the student’s special education and regular education records after I have been hired, it isn’t as if I walk into the IEP meetings with no idea of the problem areas.
So why does the following scenario continue to occur:
A student is in a largely mainstream middle-school program. According to her latest report card, she is failing every core academic area, as well as her foreign language. She is, however, passing gym, and she is actually excelling in art.
Let’s see if you can guess which of the numerous regular education teachers gets invited to the IEP meeting?
If you guessed the art teacher, you get a gold star! If you guessed the gym teacher, you get a silver. If you guessed a regular education teacher who is “covering” for another regular education teacher in which the student is failing, well, I’ll give you a bronze.
Really, do they think we don’t notice?
If you know your child is struggling in the “regular education” classes in any particular subject area, here’s an idea…ask that those teachers be invited to the IEP meeting. I’ll bet you’ll hear a whole lot less about how much your child is “blossoming” or how recently they seem to have really “taken off” in the program.
And by “recently” they mean two days ago.