{Ask an Advocate} questions about disagreeing with IEP, progress monitoring and level of services

Today’s question:

It’s time for my son’s annual ARD. We are new to this – he was only admitted into Special Ed last year following a diagnosis of Asperger’s. Despite repeated requests throughout the year, I just received his Progress Report. It shows he mastered 4 goals back in October. On the other two goals, he partially achieved the goals. He has been receiving social skills support in a class called SCORES. They propose to remove him from this class and provide support only during his Advisory period. This is a 20-minute a day homeroom class. We disagree with this removal. We want to know what to say/do about two things: 1) Why didn’t we receive Progress Reports at every grading period? I’ve asked for copies of the data supporting the reports because I don’t trust their validity. 2) If they don’t listen to us, how do we disagree with the IEP but make sure he still gets services? We are looking for an advocate in our area and would appreciate suggestions.

Can I start with the easy one first? For your last question, a good place to start is that every state has a Protection and Advocacy group. So you can find yours, and see if they have advocates or know where to get them.

Author’s note: A reminder that NOREP is a term we use here in PA. Other states refer to it as PWN (Prior Written Notice) or may have their own state specific term. It is the document that you get that seals the deal, when you agree or disagree to the IEP, placement and all the services.

Now on to the meat of your question.

When you get a new IEP, you should also receive a NOREP. On the last page of that, you are given several options–approve or disapprove and then hold a meeting, mediation or DP. You have to decide what you want to do. You can approve the IEP as written and continue to try to work it out as far as the issues. Or, you can disapprove. If you disapprove this IEP, the previous one becomes his pendent placement–all of those strategies and services stay in place until you hash it out with the district. I would start at lowest level–another meeting or mediation.

It’s great that he’s making measurable progress. But is it meaningful progress? Is he functional when it comes to social skills? From what you wrote, they want to move from direct instruction to supplemental support. That can be because of cost or it could be because they don’t know what else to do. I haven’t researched whether or not the SCORES program is evidence-based, but they are required to provide evidence-based instruction (can’t just make up programs by the seat of their pants) and evidence-based social skills programs for teens and tweens are very hard to find.

I would do a very detailed parent letter of attachment–ask for everything that you are telling me.
Express that you want more progress monitoring (yes! This can be put in IEPs!) and define what it is going to look like (weekly phone calls, emails, what?)
Express in detail the areas of need in social skills that he has–what does it look like? Why does he still need direct instruction?

As far as the records, do that as a separate written request. Write down exactly and specifically what you are requesting. I have written about FERPA requests before, you may want to take a look.

Also, if you haven’t done it this time–don’t ever forget again….but the Parental Concerns portion of the IEP must be done, every time. I have done many posts on that.

I actually haven’t done a ton of writing about pendency and “stay put clause” but you need to read up on that too. Here is a brochure that explains it nicely. But your son will be protected by pendency and stay put.

pendency stay put brochure

Sorry you’re going through this. Good luck and keep us posted!


  1. Coleen McKenna says

    I have not seen a NOREP, I’m in Washington state, we receive a PWN, and we sign an attendance sheet, but we don’t sign the IEP when it is finalized. I get a copy of the final, with signatures attached. Should this be done differently?

    • says

      I would only sign the attendance sheet at the meeting (and the sheet that says you’ve received procedural safeguards, if you got them), not the NOREP/PWN. Wait until you receive the finalized copy of the IEP before you sign that. It’s not uncommon to have a finalized version of the IEP that differs from what was agreed upon in the meeting.


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