Unseemly IEP Member: “The Wimp”

Published on May 9, 2009 by Jennifer Laviano

“The Wimp”

This is the person on your IEP team who you KNOW completely agrees with you, but who is completely unwilling to stand up for what they believe when the IEP meeting comes around. This is almost always a teacher or service provider, and is often someone who has told you many times “off the record” that they don’t believe your child is getting enough service.

Sometimes, this person is the first to validate your concerns about your child’s special education program, and yet does not have the courage to say so openly.

For example, your child’s regular education teacher tells you that your child is not “fitting in with the other kids,” seems overwhelmed academically, and doesn’t seem to be learning in such a large environment. So, when you ask for a 1:1 paraprofessional at the IEP meeting, and she says nothing, you make a comment like “I have the impression that he is really overwhelmed in the mainstream class without more support,” and her response is “he struggles sometimes, but I’m usually able to redirect him.” Said response usually immediately follows the special education administrator telling you that they wouldn’t agree to paraprofessional support.

Many parents feel betrayed and undermined when a person working with their child “sugar coats” what is actually going on.

I do understand that there is a great deal of pressure placed on teachers and service providers to “tow the party line,” but my view of it is this: if you made the decision to work with children, especially children with disabilities, then you have the absolute responsibility to be honest about what they need. Otherwise, you are not just betraying that one child, you are betraying your profession.

7 Responses to Unseemly IEP Member: “The Wimp”

  1. Jackie
    May 9th, 2009 | 9:51 pm

    Jen,
    You are spot on! We’ve had at least one of these, either the ST, OT, Teacher or Aide in each of the 8yrs that my 11yo nonverbal ASD son has been in the school system. The worst was when a new teacher ‘punished’ him for vocalizing too much by having him go outside in snowy weather by himself while she & his aide watched from the window. However, despite telling me this in tears, she refused to acknowledge this happened to the administration as she did not want to loose her job, and we had no proof. We could see changes in my son but could not prove anything. This was a rural sd but it could happen anywhere. Ironically the sd did not renew her as they felt she talked to us too much. Very Unfortunate that this happens at all and the kids don’t come first.

  2. Rochelle Dolim
    May 11th, 2009 | 5:02 pm

    That’s why I carry a tape recorder with me…

  3. Cari
    December 18th, 2009 | 7:29 am

    LOL — I had that happen once. I finally said, in the meeting, I believe you are scared of having full responsibility for my son in your class based on comments you have made and your body language. If my son attended your class with an aide would that help relieve some of your anxieties? (she answered in the affirmative) Would having an aide for my son help his success in your class? (again an affirmative response) At that point, I smiled and said, “I have no problem fighting for what my son needs to get his education, but if you as the staff that works for him aren’t willing to admit it in the IEP, I will be fighting a losing battle. If the board doesn’t like it, then I’ll point out this is and I-E-P (I standing for Individualized) and not a C-E-P (C standing for cookie cutter plan). (All said with a smile.) That year we got my son an aide to attend the regular ed class with him.

  4. Niksmom
    April 21st, 2010 | 12:00 pm

    What advice would you give to parents in dealing with this sort of person. Sadly, we encountered this all the time with our son’s IEP team. We ended up pulling him out of school to home school bc we didn’t have the resources to fight the legal battles we foresaw.

    Now, three years later, we want to put him back in school (he’s 6 1/2) as he’s ready. We know we’ll encounter all the same characters again.

  5. Jennifer Laviano
    April 21st, 2010 | 7:57 pm

    Ah, The Wimp is a hard one to know how to handle. I think over time you get to know the best strategy to employ with the individual personalities on an IEP Team…but since The Wimp tends to be more candid outside of the IEP meeting, I suggest trying to get as much in writing with this person as possible. Email communication to confirm discussions you’ve had in person, which you then print out and save, is a good way to start. Casual notes like “I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to talk to me the other day about Jane. I really felt better knowing that you have concerns about her reading, also, and I look forward to our discussion about it at the IEP meeting.” Documentation is the key! Good luck!

  6. Niksmom
    April 25th, 2010 | 10:09 am

    Great tip, thanks!

  7. Karen Chapman
    September 30th, 2011 | 1:26 pm

    Oh, I’ve seen this, and it’s because the Control Freak Director of Special Ed is threatening.