We have an IEP in place for my son, who is in high school. How can I make sure that his teachers follow it? We have an accommodation for using a tape recorder for recording lectures. However, some teachers don’t always allow him to use it. What should I do?
by Susan Yellin
Accommodations in an IEP are not privileges that teachers can bestow or withhold; they are rights to which your son is entitled. Some teachers may not realize that an IEP is not a suggestion — it is a legal document, much like a contract, and the law requires it to be followed. However, assuming you have already spoken to the teachers to better understand why they are not permitting use of the tape recorder, you should begin your efforts by speaking to your son’s principal and/or the head of your son’s IEP team. At an informal meeting, you can express your concern and request that they speak to the teachers involved and remind them of their obligation to implement your son’s IEP. That should be sufficient.
If that does not work, you should arrange for an IEP meeting and work with those present to come up with a plan to make sure that teacher compliance with the IEP is better supervised in the future.
If that step isn’t successful, you are entitled to file for a hearing before a state hearing officer to require the school to implement the IEP. This is a lengthy process, and you may want to use an attorney who focuses exclusively on special education issues. You can access a directory of professionals at the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (copaa.org), a national nonprofit organization.
-Susan Yellin is an attorney and mother of three. She is the director of advocacy and counseling services at The Yellin Center for Mind, Brain, and Education, a New York City-based practice that provides educational evaluations, management, and guidance for students from grades K through graduate school.