So, you have a child with disabilities and their IEP service minutes are not being met. Or, at least you think they’re not being met. Sound familiar?

It’s a common question that I answer for IEP parents. And, with the recent teacher and staff shortages, it’s getting worse.

IEP Minutes

What can you do to make sure that your child is getting their IEP minutes? And what do you do if that’s not happening?

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IEP minutes should be measured and good records kept.
IEP minutes should be measured and good records kept.

First, I want to encourage you to get out your IEP and take a look at it. Because we’re going to dig into IEP service minutes and how to track them.

As an aside, yes, the school should be doing this. It absolutely sucks if a parent has to monitor their child’s IEP minutes. But sometimes the situation warrants it, and it’s better to just do it and have the data than keep wondering.

Each state and school district has their IEP-writing software that they use. And some have state-specific terms and practices.

But, in your child’s IEP, go to the IEP goals part. After that section, their should be a supports and services section. Some call it that–supports and services. Others call it SDI or Specially Designed Instruction. But, you should see something similar to that, that lists the interventions and accommodations that your child receives.

Do you see it? Good. Now, carefully read it. And I mean carefully. Because, again, every school district does their own thing, and it can be confusing.

How to Calculate IEP Minutes

It feels intuitive that your child would receive their minutes on a weekly basis. But, not all IEPs are written that way.

Some schools use a 6-day cycle. This way, no one child or group of kids, repeatedly misses their service hours. That often happens if your child is scheduled on a Friday or Monday, as those are the most frequent days off for holidays.

And, some schools calculate it by semester or even school year. Crazy, but true!

I have seen many IEPs that call for IEP related service hours to be delivered as calculated on a yearly basis. It assumes that your child will attend school for 40 weeks, and then receive say 15 minutes of individualized and 15 minutes of group therapy per week, times 40.

This confuses many parents, because the IEP will read something like “1200 service minutes per annual IEP.” If you did the math on that, yes, it averages to 30 minutes per week for 40 weeks.

But, 30 minutes per week is not what the IEP specifically says. So it gives schools a loophole if they’ve fallen behind in providing services to your child.

Administratively, it may be easier and more convenient for them to calculate IEP minutes this way. For your next IEP, I would ask to have this clarified in the IEP. That will give you, the parent, more data and documentation to fall on, if they are not following the IEP.

If you want to calculate IEP nurse minutes, or SLP monthly minutes, you’re going to have to use what information you have in the IEP. Then, use whatever your state considers a standard school year to be. Pennsylvania’s is 6 hours a day, 180 days.

IDEA does not define how IEP minutes should be calculated, or how many IEP service minutes a child should receive.

Do students get IEP minutes in the Summer?

Do students get IEP minutes in the summer? No, not usually. Only if their IEP calls for it. Or, if it’s something that will be done in ESY.

If this is not specifically addressed in your child’s IEP, I would not expect it to occur.

This is not something addressed by IDEA.

How to Determine IEP Minutes

A common question I get from parents, is that they want to know how many IEP minutes are enough. That’s tough to answer.

Yes, often the number of IEP minutes your child receives are partially determined by budgets. Schools should be using their expertise to reasonably calculate progress. Unfortunately, that doesn’t often happen. Schools give your child X number of minutes, and let the progress fall where it may.

What if you disagree with the IEP Service Minutes Provided?

If that is your situation, and you want to ask for more service minutes on your IEP, then you must focus on the concept of meaningful progress.

Because if that is your situation, your issue likely isn’t IEP service minutes not being delivered, but your child not having the right supports and services to achieve their IEP benchmarks.

Like every other IEP issue for parents, this is something you want to address first with a thorough parent concerns letter, and then follow up with your PWN. It is essential that parents learn these two tools and how to pair them effectively.

Determining IEP Minutes

Once you have read this section of your child’s IEP and done the calculations, you should be able to determine how many IEP minutes your child is receiving.

So, how do you know if they are receiving their IEP minutes or not?

Well, if they are old enough and verbal enough to ask, ask them. It can be as nonchalant as at the dinner table or in the car, “Did you meet with Mrs. Therapist today? No? When did you see her last, do you remember?”

And start keeping track in a notebook or on your kitchen calendar. Or, put a calendar or note-taking app on your phone and do it there.

But, if communication is an issue, what options do you have?

Well, you can ask for the service log hours. That is the most direct way to handle it, but don’t expect to win any popularity contests this way.

It’s just human nature that if you ask someone if they are doing their job, they will assume that the reason you are asking is because you think they’re not doing their job. I’m all for holding people accountable to their responsibilities, but you should be aware that this could affect the relationship if you take this approach.

It shouldn’t, but it might. So I feel the need to tell you that.

There are some non-confrontational ways of asking.

  • Can you tell me when My Child is receiving their minutes with you, and what skills you are doing? I want to reinforce them at home.
  • I’m concerned that My Child isn’t making much progress in the area of THIS. Is this something that you are teaching when you have your service minutes with her? How do you think it’s going?

Those are just two examples. But remember this. Keep it focused on your child and their progress, and not the provider. You know the saying, flies, honey, vinegar…all that stuff my grandmother used to say.

honey jar
As my grandmother used to say, “You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.”

So, after getting this far, you’ve determined that your child is not receiving their IEP minutes.

What happens next?

When do IEP Minutes Have to be Made Up?

Unfortunately, this also is not something defined by IDEA. There is nothing parents can point to and say, “This is what should happen.”

But, what is best practice?

IEP (Individualized Education Program) minutes should be made up as soon as possible after they are missed. It is important to document all meetings and decisions made about a student’s education, so any missed minutes should be addressed promptly to ensure accurate and complete records.

In general, the specific timeframe for making up missed IEP minutes may vary depending on the policies of the school district or state. It is important to consult with your school’s special education coordinator or other relevant staff members to determine the timeline for making up missed IEP minutes.

In some cases, missed IEP minutes may need to be made up within a certain number of days, such as 30 days, to ensure compliance with state regulations or a settlement agreement.

It is also important to document any reasons for missed IEP minutes and to work with the IEP team to address any issues that may have contributed to missed meetings in the first place.

Summarizing, keep good records and documentation. Do all IEP communication in writing. Even if you chat in person or on the phone, follow up with an email. Stay child focused and solution oriented.

And, read and use your procedural safeguards.

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