Can the School Remove Supports and Services from the IEP?
This is probably the number one reason that parents dread IEP meetings. Right? For the most part, we expect to be told “No” when we ask for something to be added, even if we have the data. But the school removing items…yikes! It’s a major source of anxiety and dread.
So what can you do? It happens all the time. There several different versions of this scenario, with lots of cousins. Everything from reducing pull-out 1:1 services to group services, then push-in, then consult. Or, reducing the minutes.
Sometimes, you even get the “Well, we don’t think he needs OT anymore.”
The Over-arching Tip for this Situation.
Ok, moms, first, deep breaths. And I don’t mean this advice in a condescending tone. But I’ve seen it happen way too often.
And that is–stay professional. Remain focused on the facts, not your emotions. Do not assume intent. We don’t know why people do things and it’s not worth our time to speculate.
Because all too often, when I’m advising Moms on this, I hear many comments like “I know they have it in for me” and “They’re just doing this because….(insert some silly or spiteful reason).”
We don’t know. And if you allow yourself to go down that rabbit hole of speculating and pettiness…you’ll never achieve your goal.
Keep it focused on your child and the facts you have in front of you.
IEP Supports and Services
First, remember, IEPs are needs driven. The most important part of the IEP is the Present Levels because that section drives the rest of the IEP. The IEP Goals are drawn up based upon the information in Present Levels. From there, supports and services are put into place to help the child achieve the goals.
With me so far? Great.
So, you’ve just been told that they want to remove a support, service, time, whatever. Whatever it is, it is less than what is on the IEP right now.
When to Remove Things from an IEP.
There is a time and a place to remove things from an IEP. However, the school must have objective data to do so.
When a child lacks a skill, you either teach the skill or accommodate for the lack of the skill (and accommodate while teaching the skill). So, is this a situation, say handwriting, where the team feels that the child has maxed out on ability? And now it’s time for assistive technology? Are you, the parent, in agreement with this? And, what data do they have to determine that the child cannot make any more progress?
Is this a time to abandon a particular idea and try another one?
My point is, there are times when removing things from IEPs is completely warranted and appropriate. We don’t want the same exact IEP for our child’s entire career.
Red Flag IEP Phrases
There are a few terms that I hear from IEP teams that tells me that they don’t have the data they need to make this move. Some of these phrases are:
- “Well, we have to because….” (there really aren’t any have-tos when it comes to providing supports and services)
- “It’s our model to do it this way…” (I don’t care about your model, I care about the I in IEP)
- “Your child is already getting more than any other child…..” (maybe my child needs more than every other child)
- “This is better for your child because…” (usually followed by a nonsensical hard sell that makes no mention of the child or their progress)
- “We don’t think he needs…” (is this “thinking” supported with data?)
Sound familiar? Ok, good. Now, let’s get into what to do about it.
Keeping Supports and Services on an IEP.
- Gather your data. Look at this year’s IEP compared to last. Compare goals and progress. Look at your last two evaluation reports. How did your child score in this area? Is he/she making progress? What other data do you have to support your child’s needs?
- Get out your Procedural Safeguards and Read Them! I mean it! Particularly the part about PWN. Know your parental rights. And one of the big ones is that they cannot do this without your consent and without providing you a PWN about the change.
- Do not sign anything at the IEP Meeting except the attendance sheet. Stay strong even though you’re likely outnumbered.
- Do a follow up, after IEP meeting letter. This is a must, if this change was presented to you in the IEP meeting. Click that link to learn what to put in your letter.
- Make your case in writing. Respond to their proposed changes with facts. List the data that you have the supports the child keeping those supports and services intact. Request an IEP meeting to discuss this.
- Consider asking for evaluations. You may want to ask for evaluations or an IEE prior to this change, particularly if their data points to the child not needing this service and you disagree.
- Seek outside help. Depending on the size and scope of the situation, you may want to start calling attorneys or advocates.
- Read up on pendency or “stay put.” IDEA allows for a child to stay put in their current situation while a dispute is being resolve. However, sometimes you must file for Due Process first and other complications. Know what your child’s “stay put” rights are in your state in case you need them.
I already agreed to remove the IEP supports. What can I do?
Well, it’s not a clean and pretty way to do it, but you have to rescind your agreement to whatever you signed. Do number 4 above, but start your email with “I was overwhelmed at the meeting and felt pressured to sign, however I do not agree with the proposed changes and wish to rescind my signature of agreement….”
Follow up, Using the IEP Process.
You should be presented with a PWN. Again, learn about it and sign as appropriate.
Know, that like everything else in the IEP process, things move slowly. Be patient, stay professional.