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Top Ten Most Ridiculous Comments Heard at an IEP Meeting

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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Guest Post

Written on January 19, 2012 by:

  • My favorite quote in an IEP meeting was from another speech therapist. I worked in early intervention at the time and was at the initial IEP. She said “he didn’t talk so how do I know he needs speech therapy.”

    • kale

      Get It girl c;

    • MARCUS


  • It’s always interesting to hear the excuses that the Districts come up with.  My daughter has a critical illness as well as learning disabilities and ended up having a bone marrow transplant.  However, when questioned why they hadn’t been pushing her to her potential, they responded by saying, “Well, we didn’t push her educationally as we didn’t know how long she would live.  We focused more on her emotional stability in school.”  This comment was after her bone marrow transplant which cured her.  Two years earlier, this same case manager told me that my daughter would never read properly because of her dyslexia, and that I should prepare myself for that.  I told her that many people with dyslexia went on to do great things not only for this country but for the world.

  • Dennise,

    Were it not so sad, it would be hilarious!

    I have attended about 5,000 of these meetings over the past 18 years as an advocate and wished that I had thought to write some of the comments I have heard. It would make a great book.

    Dennie Baldwin

    Kentucky Education Rights           

  • Most of my practice these days is special education litigation.  When parents come to me I often tell them that the SD’s defenses inevitably fall into one of three categories.  I find that the more experienced the parents, the more they laugh:

    1)  “Johny is dumb; 
    2)  “Johny  is lazy; and/or 
    3)  “Mom is a B—-h.”

    It never seems to be the District’s fault, which is not unusual for any defendant, but I find it unusual that sociiety often buys it when we wouldn’t take those arguments from our car mechanic, our doctor, our lawyer, or the neighborhood teenager who cut your grass to make a few extra dollars. 

  • Cherisa

    To think I have hears ALMOST everyone of these comments at mu sons IEP’s.. Well with the exception of the YOUR CHILD IS TOO SMART ONE—

    What I dont understand about IEP’s is why do they tell you they will add things (LIKE behavior plans) and you NEVER SEE it??? How can you help me with that problem. What is the correct way of going around that..

    And one you didnt add that I was told…. “with your sons diagnosis of PDD/NOS that doesnt qualify him for all the service he needs. Because that is NOT an AUTISM diagnosis, so if you could get your doctor to change the diagnosis he would be able to get his one on one aid back..”

    Now mind you he had a Aide last year with the SAME diagnosis that he has this year1!      

  • “Ridiculous Statement #10: Your child is too smart to have an IEP.” My parents bought this one to the degree that they never even thought to try. Junior and senior year were torture. Bookmarking this list for the future I hope to have.

  • I have an 8 yr old son with Asperger’s and sensory integration disorder. He has had therapy since the age of 2 wks due to other medicial issues. His school is saying he does not qualify for an IEP anymore because he is so smart and it’s not bothering him IN SCHOOL however he is having incidents with hitting and needs a way to take a 5 min time out in a tent or some other sensory break what can I do is there anything that would help him?

  • I have one for you….
    Our school principal told my wife that our son could have an aide when her daughter got one. even now a year later, even after the recommendation of the psych team was that he get an aide, they are still not providing one. There is more, written on my blog… How do you feel about PWN’s?

  • Some that we have heard about my son who has hemiplegic CP from a stroke in utero.

    “He compensates well enough with his left hand, he doesn’t need therapy to improve his right hand.”   

    “If your Dr told you that with his neurological impairment that he would ever be fully functional then they were lying to you.”

    “He is independent with putting his coat on, you just have to hold it open for him. He is independent pulling his pants up you just have to straighten them out for him before he can pull them up.” (I am pretty sure that is ASSISTED)    

  • that your son cant do this and that but you now better becuse he past the waels test with flying colers at the other school and alot of other kids can do that so if thay would take the time with all the kids thay would do alot better and stop telling all the pearent thay cant do this and that and foace on there acomplesment insted of there problems everybody has problems thay just need help fixing them more than others and that what i thank the iep is for if thay have time for a iep meeting thay should have time to teach that the right way and stop saying thay dont qulfie for this and that thank you hope you can understand this post

    • My now 5 year old’s prek teacher told me that she had ’10 years experiance’ teaching prek and knew that my son wasn’t autistic. She said I was focusing too much on his negatives and not enough on his positives. I told her his positives were fantastic, but now we need to move on to help his negatives. We got into a massive argument that the secondary teacher in the program started moving kids and parents away from us. As I was leaving another parent approached me, and said ‘so I hear your son has autism.’ I got embarrassed, until she told me hers did too. I got sad, because I knew there was one child in the class with autism, and I thought I knew who he was… She had 2 kids in the program with it. I thought I was loosing my skills… Until she told me they were identical twins! I laughed, and said ‘no wonder I always thought he was so dang fast!!

    • Seriously?

      Perhaps you need an IEP as well.

      • WHAT Did You SAY to this Mother!  Seriously, YOU are RUDE!  How do you know if she may have a handicap or English is a second language or WHATEVER!  How DARE you!!!

    • Natalie

       Wow! I have had the same problem. But i get told that my 15yr old is just lazy. I have been fighting with the school since he was in 5th grade telling them that they are not looking at the problem and choosing to ignore it.

  • Teresa Hepner-Martino

    This is amazing….read if you want to know what parents of children with special needs go through…my contribution is…”We could put him in a social skills class..but he is nonverbal”….to which his current preschool speech teacher stated “he is NOT nonverbal..he communicates through his talker and can functionally communicate with peers…” So the IEP team was deciding my son had no social needs or skills based on type of language expression..ignorant..this in a top rated Naperville IL district…

  • Tanya

    During one of my child’s conference with the teacher, she told me multiple times that she did not know how to teach my child. He no longer goes to that school!

  • Lynn/PA

    LOVE this!  Also love when we tell parents that their child qualifies for “extra time on state mandated tests” – tests that are not timed in the first place. 

  • Cheryl Villa

    Incrediby #8 & #9 have been said to me! I have also been told my son didn’t qualify for an aid unless he was a flight risk or a danger to others! Due to budget cuts we just can’t offer it! I took them to court and my son has aids! And the district paid for my attorney!!

    • My son is both a flight risk AND a danger to others and they wanted to take his aid because he had a great 1st month of school. Yeah… Because he had an aid…lol. Now he, once again, runs and hitsNAND throws chairs.

      • restlesspirit

        I had this happen with a biter, had the one to one aid and all went well because of the aid, they said she didnt need the aide,, and she went right back to biting.

  • Here is a video with actual audio of my son’s court case last year. I have moved school districts since and now love my son’s school program. He is now included 95% of his time in gen ed. However, the same school district is not allowing my 6 year old 1st grader to eat in the lunch room with her gen ed peers, she is having to go back to the sp ed room and doesn’t get to go out to recess after lunch. They told me yesterday at the IEP meeting that because she can not talk, no one at lunch would want to talk to her and that no one would want to sit by her. She does have regular students that are her friends. They are denying her the LRE to eat lunch in because she can not speak!

    • Suzanne Dickerson

      You need to put this in his IEP. Every movement your child takes MUST be put in IEP.
      We live in San Antonio Texas in the Judson ISD school district. This district is considered to provide the least amount of education in San antonio. We have made them provide an Aide, put him in gen ed ect.  Bring a lunch to ARD, make arrangements for childcare after school, and play their game. They expect you to leave after an hour, and will apply pressure to hurry the meeting. After you have gotten through your list and it is all in IEP, take document and do not sign it! Take contract home to read next day when you are fresh. The Federal Law allows this. One you sign it, there is no going back for the next school year. Remember, most of these people are not here to teach your child; they are there to get a paycheck.

      • td

        This is incredible nonsense. If teachers were only there to get a paycheck believe me, as highly educated people, (most of them have master’s degrees), they could go almost anywhere and get a paycheck and probably a much better one than they are getting at the school district. Moreover, signing an IEP indicates only that you were in ATTENDANCE at an IEP meeting. It does not state that you are in agreement. Writing an IEP is a team effort. If there is disagreement with what goes in an IEP, it is documented in the notes and it doesn’t go in the IEP. If the school and the parents cannot agree, then there are procedures that take over.Also, the statement that once an IEP is in place there is no going back, is just false and ignorant. ANYONE, school or parent, can call an IEP meeting at any time during the school year. It can be modified or written over completely at any time. A well prepared parent would forward their draft of an IEP to the school prior to the meeting to give the school time to review it, that way issues can be discussed in a timely and organized manner. IEP meetings were never intended to be hours long, month long affairs. If they are there is something definitely wrong.

      • CJ

        What a disgusting comment. Your sentiment that teachers are only in it to receive a paycheck is disgusting. Not only that, it’s so wrong. Teachers don’t make enough money to be in it just for a check. You could make more money with less stress as a manager at Target or Macy’s. Get a grip woman.

        • RWBRep7

          HAHA soo true.

      • RWBRep7

        That is so untrue.

  • Candace Barnes

    During an IEP meeting for my son I actually had a physical therapist say the following statement to me so here is another ridiculous statement:

    “I don’t feel it appropriate to remove your son from the class setting to do physical therapy until he is a functioning walker but you are definitely welcome to take him out of school for therapy somewhere else.”

    (My child is in a wheelchair but is regaining the ability to walk and does so slowly with assistance.)

    She did not feel it appropriate to remove him from the setting to the other side of the room to do therapy where he can still hear the lessons, but it was okay for me to completely remove him from the school.

    We are getting ready for round two of this discussion with yet another meeting.

    I just don’t understand how people can be so uncaring of the welfare of a child. After 12 years I am still continually amazed.

    Candace Barnes

    • VTMom3

      It’s stupid things like this that finally gave me the courage and determination to start homeschooling!!

    • MaryLF

      I’m just wondering if her thinking was that he wouldn’t be able to concentrate on both therapy and lesson. It might also be distracting for the other children to have the therapy going on during the lesson. I don’t know why he wouldn’t just leave the room to have the therapy at school, however.

    • Etriebenbach

      take it to due process!

  • tjk

    How about, “Your child doesn’t need help, he just needs to get beat up on the playground.” (Child has anxiety and dispraxia)

    • PauperPrincess

      WHAT?  Holy crow.

    • MARCUS


      • Phoenix Wrong

        You don’t know their son, and to my knowledge you are not a psychologist (though I’m betting on no, since you seem to actually think that anxiety is not a disorder), so you do not get to decide who has anxiety and who doesn’t.

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  • Kryste Lillquist

    Here’s my favorite….Yes we know your daughter is deaf and has a cochlear implant…but we are going to teach her to communicate with pictures and light swiches…LOL

    A cochlear implant gives you hearing, my daughter is now a 1st grader and speaking and listening beautifully!

    • SLP

      Their reasoning was that it was probably just a “bridge” between where she was and where she was expected to be. It takes a child some time to adjust to the cochlear implant; they have to learn how to listen and then to separate out background noise from the speech signal, etc. My suspicion is that the team was just trying to give her some non-verbal quick and easy methods of communication while she was learning speech so that her frustration levels would be lowered.

  • I have one to add. We took too long in writing the IEP and getting it signed; thus he no longer qualifies for IEP because his needs are being met in the classroom. He qualified for specific learning disability (dyslexia) and is being pulled out 1-2 times a day for a specific reading program. He qualified for ADD. He qualified for possible Asperbergers. I’m at a loss. I’ve contacted my county superintendent and left a message at the state.

    •  I don’t know if you will get to read this but, if your child is possible Asperger’s, then he needs to be properly evaluated by a specialist out side of the school.  A proper diagnosis can go a long way with an IEP.

      • Etriebenbach

        in MN a medical diagnosis of Autism does not automatically qualify a child for an educational label of Autism. Because if the Autism is not interfering with their ability to learn and keep up with their peers it’s not a special educaiton issue. You can get a 504 plan though. I can see both sides of that argument, not sure what I agree with and I work in the SpEd system.

      • RWBRep7

        Yes. Don’t expect the schools to meet all your needs. They can’t. Do your part and be a part of solutions in and out of schools.

  • We had fought for four years to get my grandson a 1:1 paraprofessional and in the process of fighting one of the teachers told us, “We don’t have any qualified aides.” We finally got one and later at another IEP the principal remarked now does 1:1 actually mean 1:1? or does it mean 1:2? or 1:3? At that moment the theme song from the Twilight Zone kept playing in my head. This from the belly button of Illinois.

  • Denise, thank you for writing this. I can only imagine the frustration at having to hear these statements from those who are responsible for caring for and educating our children.

  • I have a good one. If you do not agree to put your daughter were we tell you too, Our teachers will be insulted and will start taking it out on your daughter. I will also report it to the state of ILL and they will make me put her in that classroom. My response was when that happens You and I will talk to my lawyer. They wanted to put my daughter in Living skills classroom but she is beyond that her intelligence level is high.

  • Bibi67

    Here’s one from my son’s EP meeting 2 weeks ago. ( In Florida, it’s called an EP when your child is gifted only  ) This came from his gifted teacher’s mouth, to the astonishment of everyone else in the room . ” He is not allowed to say he’s smart in my classroom. It’s my mission to take him down a peg ” .  
     To which I said ” Did you really just say that?”

    • PauperPrincess

      Wow.  I think I may have smacked her for that one.  REALLY?

      • RWBRep7

        And get arrested for assault? Not smart.

    • acp

      And that’s when you pull him. Teachers are supposed to build children up. If they can’t or won’t do that, at least in my family, they don’t have access to my child.

    • MARCUS



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