Most parents don’t know how to tell if their child’s IEP is being followed or even if their child has a good IEP. We can analyze an IEP both procedurally and substantively.
A procedural violation relates to the procedures outlined and to be followed in the IEP (Individualized Education Plan) process and can include the following:
- Failure to include the student’s parents or guardians in the process. Parents or guardians MUST be included in every step of the IEP process from initial consent to implementation.
- Failure to evaluate the student either at the parents’ request or when it appears the IEP is not working to meet the student’s needs.
- Failure to provide legally allowable and appropriate accommodations and services.
- Failure to provide proper notice of any IEP meetings as well as notice of any changes to the IEP.
- Failure to follow the IEP as written and if any changes are made they must follow the proper procedures and obtain prior written notice (PWN.)
- Failure to provide a free and appropriate public education (FAPE.) School Districts must provide a FAPE to every student with disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA.) If they don’t, they could lose their federal funding.
Many times, there can also be substantive violations if the school fails to provide the student with services and accommodations outlined in the IEP (Individualized Education Plan) which can include the following:
- Failure to provide the appropriate level of service to meet the student’s needs as outlined in the IEP. If the IEP says 90 minutes per week of speech and language therapy and the student is only receiving 30 minutes per week – this is a substantive violation of the IEP.
- Failure to provide appropriate accommodations as outlined in the IEP – If the student is supposed to receive 100% more time on tests and they are only getting time and a half – this is a substantive violation of the IEP.
- Failure to provide services in a timely manner. If the district has 90 days to complete Response to Intervention (RTI) using the Multi-tiered Support System (MTSS)to determine a need for services and they take longer to put the services in place this is a substantive violation as it has the potential to hinder progress.
- Failure to provide the right services in the right setting as outlined in the IEP – If the student is supposed to be tested distraction-free environment and they are tested in their regular classroom with a full classroom of other students – this is a substantive violation of the IEP.
- Failure to provide the necessary staff to carry out the services in the IEP – If the student is supposed to have a one-on-one and they don’t have a one-on-one – this is a substantive violation as it is impossible to carry out the services in the IEP.
To summarize – procedural violations relate to the procedures outlined in the IEP process and substantive violations occur when the school or district fails to provide the services and accommodations outlined in the IEP.
Due Process, State, or OCR Complaints that can be filed
- Due Process – In Florida, these are expensive for the parent and offer a low return.
- State Complaints – We find these to be more cost-efficient and effective especially when filed in conjunction with ethics complaints “Professional educator misconduct complaints”. We offer a bundled discount to maximize the effectiveness and often ask for a state-facilitated IEP as well to solve the problem and require accountability going forward.
Office for Civil Rights (OCR) Complaints – When a student is in a protected class (disability or minority) we need to ask if he/she is being treated differently than his/her non-disabled peers. If he or she is being discriminated against based on race or disability then OCR is the way to go.