New School Teacher Students with learning. My son says that his teachers aren’t giving him the accommodations outlined in his IEP.  He has a special education “itinerant”, not a teacher, and he hasn’t met her yet.  Students with learning disabilities are supposed to receive more support, but it seems like he’s not getting any at all.  Is there something I can do?”

Well, it seems like you’ve stumbled onto something that many parents of students with IEPs don’t find out until well into the school year, if at all.  Itinerant Teachers are teachers with a Special Education Certification that are assigned to students with IEPs.  In a sense, they are case managers, and often have30 students or more on their caseload, making it impossible for them to see each student more than once or twice a month, and only then if they’re able to climb out from under a mountain of paperwork.  As a result, teachers are expected to know all accommodations for each student with an IEP in each of their classes.  That can sometimes be up to 10 students per class.  Since each IEP is around 15 pages long, it can take up to a month for the teachers to know which student should receive which accommodations.

New School Teacher Students with learning

New School Teacher Students with learning

Since Districts and schools recognize that it is nearly impossible to teach classes, complete grading and lesson plans, and perform all other assigned duties, most states have passed a law stating that if accommodations aren’t clearly documented and met for each student with an IEP, the student cannot fail the class.  That means your son could theoretically not complete any coursework for an entire year and still pass the class with a ‘D’, and it would be completely legal.  In these schools and Districts, it is important that the parents stay proactive.  Let both your son and his teachers know what is expected of him.

New School Teacher Students with learning  Request a meeting with your son’s teacher.  If possible, request that all of them meet with you at the same time.  Bring a copy of your son’s IEP and highlight the accommodations that are most necessary.  Almost all IEPs give student preferential seating, for example, but make sure you tell the teachers what that means for your son.  Does he do better in the front of the classroom or in the middle?  Should he be able to move around the classroom in order to see the board, the TV screen, or other materials?  If he is able to have extended time on his assignments, request that the person preparing the IEP sets limits, for example, time should be extended for no more than 50% more than the actual given time, or assignments can be handed in up to 1 day late for full credit.  You can also discuss what your expectations are.  Would you like the teacher to call  or email you if he receives a 75% or lower on three or more assignments in a row?

Most importantly, DOCUMENT EVERYTHING!  Keep a folder for each subject and request a copy of assignments your son isn’t doing well on so that everyone can find a pattern and help him improve.  Keep a notebook with dates and times of meetings and phone calls and a summary of what was discussed.  Print out and keep all emails from the school or teachers that are relevant to your son’s grades and behavior, and make sure you own a copy of the school’s handbook.  I hope this is a good start.  If you need anything else, feel free to email me!

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