Top Ten Most Ridiculous Comments Heard at an IEP Meeting

Meeting puzzle peices

By Dennise Goldberg

In my job as a special education advocate, and my other job as a parent of a child with special needs, I have been involved in too many Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings to count.  During these numerous IEP meetings I have met some wonderful, caring, knowledgeable, well meaning Teachers and School Personnel.

I have also, at times, heard some of the most outrageous statements!!!  These ridiculous comments fly in the face of everything the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) stands for.  What you will find below are ten of most ridiculous statements that I have heard and why they are so ridiculous.

Ridiculous Statement #1

Your child’s emotional disturbance is interfering with her academic performance so she doesn’t qualify for an IEP.

Fact:  There are 13 disability categories under IDEA.  In order to qualify for an IEP you must meet the definition of one of the 13 categories and by reason thereof NEED special education and related services.  One of the 13 disability categories is emotional disturbance and if that disability is interfering with the child’s ability to access the curriculum then by definition she has a need for an IEP.

Ridiculous Statement #2

This is a Magnet School we don’t do IEP’s here.

Fact: All public schools are required, by law, to provide children with a disability a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).  Since magnet schools are public schools they are required to execute IEP’s for those children that require special education.  This would also go for advanced study schools and charter schools.

Ridiculous Statement #3

We don’t perform Functional Behavior Assessments (FBA) or write Behavior Support Plans (BSP) for Children exhibiting off-task behavior.  FBA’s are only for kids that are not nice.

Fact:  IDEA requires the IEP Team to consider five special factors when writing an IEP.  One of those five special factors is behavior.  It states:  (i) In the case of a child whose behavior impedes the child’s learning or that of others, consider the use of positive behavioral interventions and supports, and other strategies, to address that behavior.  Behavior that impedes learning comes in many forms and does not always manifest itself in violent outbursts.  Off-task behavior can and does impede learning.

Ridiculous Statement #4

Maybe your daughter’s behavior issues are being caused by you telling her she has autism and she is emulating how she thinks someone with autism should act.  I suggest not talking with her so much about her autism.

Fact: Wow, I’m still amazed at this one and I’m not sure where to start.  Let’s focus on the fact that they are blaming the parent for the child’s behavior in school.  If the School really believes the IEP isn’t working because of the parent they are required to provide training to the parent via the related service, parent training and counseling.  In my opinion, the School needs the training not the parent but let’s move on.:)

Ridiculous Statement #5

We can’t test your child for an IEP until we have first tried Response to Intervention.

Fact: This ridiculous statement was used by so many School Districts that on January 21, 2011 the United States Department of Education Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services issued a memo reminding School Districts that Response to Intervention cannot be used to delay-deny an evaluation for eligibility under IDEA.   You can download the memo here: OSERS Memo on RTI Office of Special Education

Ridiculous Statement #6

Your child will be graduating at the end of the month whether you like it or not.

Fact: Graduation with a diploma is considered a change of placement under an IEP.  Any change of placement triggers extensive due process rights.  If the parents disagree with their child (who has not reached the age of majority) graduating they can stop it by filing for due process.  This would trigger a Stay Put.  Stay Put means there can be no change of placement or reduction of services while the disagreement is being worked out.

Ridiculous Statement #7

I won’t let you add your comments to the parental concerns section of the IEP form because the IEP is a School document and I disagree with your description of the events that occurred.

Fact: This question has been responded to in the United States Federal Register where it was said, “Parents are free to provide input into their child’s IEP through a written report if they so choose.”

Ridiculous Statement #8

I spoke to my supervisor at the School District and she has authorized me to offer you one hour of speech therapy a week.

Fact: IDEA specifically says that all decisions regarding an IEP need to be decided in an IEP Team meeting.  If a faceless supervisor is making the decision regarding the IEP outside of the team meeting then this is called predetermination.  That supervisor would need to join the IEP Team and discuss her recommendations with the Team before any decisions could be made.

Ridiculous Statement #9

 I agree she needs a full-time aide but I don’t have the authority to authorize that.

Fact: IDEA requires every IEP Team to have a District Representative that is knowledgeable about the District’s curriculum and resources that has the authority to bind the District.

Ridiculous Statement #10

 Your child is too smart to have an IEP.

Fact:  Intelligence has no bearing on disability or need.  Even individuals with genius level IQs can have a disability that affects their ability to access the curriculum.

Dennise Goldberg is the owner of Special Education Advisor a community of parents, educators, and special education service providers dedicated to helping families with children who have special needs understand their special education rights and receive appropriate special education services.

Dennise works with children with all forms of disabilities including autism, cerebral palsy, aspergers, and down syndrome, to name a few. She is also the mother of a beautiful 10-year old boy who has dealt with developmental delays, apraxia of speech, fine motor delays, sensory issues, gross motor delays, and now has a learning disability (auditory processing disorder).

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  • Jacqui

    We were told during an open house that our son is not like the other children because he “can’t learn”. Pretty disgusting coming from a school that supposedly “specializes” in autism. We were also told that he was the “worst” student that had ever gone there. He no longer goes to that “special” school. He is doing better than ever in a regular public school. They are actually taking the time to get to know him as a person instead of a disability. He has moderate autism and severe mental impairment with GI issues and somehow the new school manages to teach him more than he learned in 5 years with the “experts”, even identifying when he has exceptionally bad stomach pain, which the other school said was him being “sad”.

  • Wendy

    My all-time favorite thing I’ve heard at an IEP meeting is that my son’s proposed disability accommodation would first have to be run through the school Principal to make sure it didn’t contradict anything in the teacher’s union contract before it could be added to the IEP.

    • Stephanie DeBarber

      I think you won

  • mh

    We didn’t know what was wrong and were desperate; I was at one of our early assessment meetings sobbing.  I said “we need help, my son is violent towards me at home and I don’t know what to do.”  (My son had also exhibited violence at school, but only occasionally.  We finally got an outside assessment, he has Asperger’s, the violence at home was due to stress at school which we finally addressed with appropriate accommodations after bringing an advocate.) 

    They looked me right in my crying face, and said “Anything that happens outside the school is not something we can help you with.”

    • Mary Peck

      MH, that is absolutely horrible and insensitive.  Helping children and their families is supposed to be their job!  What do they get paid for?  So sorry that happened to you and your family.  When I cried I was told that I “needed to work on my presentation”.  When I said that I was only trying to help my son because I loved him, they looked at me like I had two heads.

      • Etriebenbach

        As a SpEd teacher I can tell you that we are told by our districts and directors that we can’t help outside of school. We are not allowed to recomend specific clinics or therapies because then the district would have to pay for them. I HATE the position this puts me in. I happen to WANT to help the families of my students. There are ways around these constrictions we are put under but it stinks to have to do end runs around the administration just to help the families and students. Now, some of the things I’ve read on here from other teachers just make me sick!

  • AmyC

     I could write a novel.  My school wants to move my son to another
    school.  He’s 7 and Autistic.  He does not have behavior issues, he just
    needs extra help.  They gave me one option and I requested more and
    clearly stated I was not uprooting him this late in the school year. 
    The next meeting I’m told I don’t have a choice and we “voted”.  I of
    course disagreed.  We just had another meeting last week.  One lady in
    the meeting asked what I wanted them to do with my son the rest of this
    school year.  I said “Do your job and continue teaching him.”  She
    replied “So you want us to babysit him?”  I’ve been dealing with that
    type of nonsense all year.  I have had 2 district employees tell me to
    file a complaint regarding how unprofessional they are in these
    meetings.  She said she felt they were bullying me.  I have been trying
    to frantically find out how to handle this and handle it the right way.
    It’s stressful and parents shouldn’t have to be put in these positions. :(

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  • Ad

    My favourite to date in dealing with my son’s school.. last year it was “A diagnosis of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder caused by the severe abuse suffered at the hands of his father)  is not a significant enough reason to give your son an EA, and even though he has been diganosed at 3 with ASD issues (he was totally mute and made no eye contact), that isn’t a clear enough diagnosis so, no we won’t be giving him an EA and we won’t be helping with the therapy he needs because PTSD combined with ASD issues isn’t severe enough” so this year I get “Yes, it’s nice that he has his Asperger’s diagnosis but that still isn’t enough for him to qualify for an EA” (that was in February) and then yesterday “I guess we need to revisit whether or not he needs support since I (the VP) couldn’t keep up with him while he was pinging off kids in the playground (read that to mean kicking and fighting and hurting over 8 different students in the space of 5 minutes because he was being bullied by another child who kicked him in the head)…. maybe I’m missing the boat here…. but for over a year I’ve been asking for support, for over a year this has been going on… and you’ve only just clued in now that perhaps the teacher he has when she tells you “oh, but he has absolutely no issues in my class” just might be exaggerating?????? grrrr….. get a grip – I know my child and I know what he is capable of, especially when he is a whole head taller than all his classmates!!

  • SarahBeth

    OMGosh!  My state doesn’t have free pre-school so they hand out IEPs like Halloween candy to get the state funding for a child to go to pre-school.  This whole system is effed up!

  • Jocelyn Gaul

    My son has Asperger’s.  The principal once told me and i quote,”If we give him an aide, that will give him a stigma”>  My answer was really he is autistic i am not worried about stigmas…lol

  • Becagulxson

    how about this, my kid gets bullied and stands up for himself when the teachers/staff won’t, then say he needs more meds! >:O

  • Annie O.

    So many more reasons to homeschool, thank you!

  • Jenniharris48

    Hi we are in sunny Engalnd, we have a school that have said they will not support my son even though he has ASD, speech and language delay, social interaction probs , They will not statement him to get the help, and they also think they no better than the specialists or me as his mother  we have had some serious troubles  since sept 2011,  my son was found wandering in the school swimming pool (no teachers about, just a whole class of 9 yr olds), he has been dragged by his hair , head and arms in the play ground, He has attacked teachers hit and sworn at them, has also been sent to the head’s office countless times , just before easter he came home with a burn on his hand  we are battling to get him moved to a school with an autism base, but with out the statement  we wont get him in there  and as of monday 14th may 2012  Jimbo has refused point blank to go to school, we have thought about home school but we feel it wouldnt be of benefit to james  if any one has any ideas please lut us no

  • Jenniharris48

    I also meant to say that on thursday 10 may 2012  I had what they called a “review meeting” to discuss my little lad, which didnt happen I was asked why had I said the Special Ed Needs Coordiantor was crap at her job my reply  where is all this “progress “and extra help he s getting?  I have now had to tell my youngest daughter’s  Pre school that i do not want the SENco at my son’s school any where near her,  the school were meant to do an IEP in Feb 2012 but i have yet to be shown this    Jim has the speech age of a 2-3 yr old the mental age of a 4yr old and he is actually 6 the school refuse to accept this  even with letters of dianoses from 2 doctors and a specialist speech and language therapist

  • Brian Harris, M.Ed

    We strive to give our parents positive experiences.  Almost all my parents leave feeling it was the best IEP meeting they’ve ever had.  They don’t have to fight.  We talk and support them the best we can.

    I also feel negativity begets negativity.  How about, “10 Helpful & Compassionate Things Heard At An #IEP Meeting.”

    Constructive, respectful collaboration is the only way to best serve our kids.  We can’t let others’ crises (i.e. disrespectful or aggressive teachers/schools) become contagious. 

    Otherwise we forfeit our core values when we need them most.

    • Syl

      I would contribute to that article, Brian. I have had nothing but positive IEPs with my son’s team. We discuss what we all think is best and right for his growth and development. They’ve never said “No” to me, they say, “Let’s look into how we can accomplish that.” And then they follow up. Sadly, I have heard of friends/acquaintances who feel that their IEPs are contentious and go in with a “fight” attitude. I prefer a negotiating strategy to get what is best for my child without alienating him or me from our wonderful school or district staff.

      BTW – he has autism and was non-verbal when he started school at age 6. Last year, he graduated elementary and was the only student to give a graduation speech and he did it to the best of his ability. No one expected perfection; everyone saw huge progress. His teachers posted the speech on the screen behind him so that others who didn’t know him well would see what he was saying. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room.

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  • child advocate

    I work for an agency that attends school meetings frequently, most of which are IEP and 504 meetings. I have sent this to my staff amd coworkers. It’s amazing how much we hear these things. I once had a SPED director tell me (after I showed her in black and white what IDEA law stated) that “I don’t care what the law says. This is my school system and I will run it any way I like”. There are a precious few schools/teachers that are looking out for the childs best interest (and for those we are truly grateful). But, unfortunately, most of those i have had experiences with want the child out of their school ASAP. They will lie (literally) to make sure it happens. Thanks so much for this!

    • sped teacher

      As a teacher, I know that educators got in to the profession to help children. When advocates come into a meeting with negativity or their own agenda it creates an atmosphere that is negative and uncomfortable. Just saying, if that’s the majority of your experience, it may not be the school.

  • mikki

    Okay, here is one “we will not help your son becasue he is not have bad behavior!” SO, what does he have to do? (by the way he is a West Point Grad. now)

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  • sigh

    Today I learned that a communication book would be too stigmatizing for my child who engages in loud, disruptive and self – injurious behaviour.

  • Discouraged Parent

    My son is 8 years old and has a 504 in place. He has been diagnosed with ADHA and Asperger’s. Signs of dyslexia and auditory processing disorder have been shown. The school is telling me he cannot be tested because his grades are to high. He is only on 2nd grade and is on a 20 point grading scale at this time. Next year is will change to a 10 point grading scale which will be very difficult for him. My question is why do children have to fail before testing can be put into place? Is there a way around this?

  • Elizabeth Benton

    Record all interactions with school employees and all meetings…they will deny deny deny.

  • DEEM

    does the school psychologist dropping the eff bomb count???
    how about ‘we don’t care that he is sitting ON people’s laps in second grade to ask a question, since his work IS NOT LOW he does not need to be tested [although his mother agreed that something was wrong].