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Challenging Negative Remarks that Threaten to Derail the IEP Process

Boy at Desk

In the best of all possible worlds, the school districts would be able to work with the parents and to follow-through with any services and accommodations that would ensure the student receives a free and appropriate education (the FAPE). But people are people and budgets are budgets and certain administrators will think first of his or her budget and the parent may be met with resistance or unhelpful remarks that can leave an unsuspecting, unprepared parent stuttering without the appropriate “fall-back line” or reply.

Therefore, we thought the following fall-back lines might be empowering for parents in the event that they are confronted with some challenging remarks that impede the IEP process such as:

I’m sorry, but the school district can’t afford that.

Parents’ reply:
“The IEP process calls for this team to decide upon the child’s needs without regard or consideration of affordability.”

No, if we do that for your child, we would have to do it for every child.

Parents’ reply:
“We can see how you might feel that this is ‘unfair,’ but fairness is that every child gets what he or she needs and not every child needs the same thing.”

We have to educate all children, not just yours.

Parents’ reply:
“You are correct and we agree….but today’s meeting is about our child’s right to a Free and Appropriate Education at the Public’s expense.”

That’s not in our program.

Parents’ reply:
“We understand that, but it is what our child requires. So, can we talk about how to get this done, or where else we might find this type of program and services?”

We don’t think your child needs that.

Parents’ reply:
“You are entitled to your opinion, but can you show us the facts and/or data that support your position, and can you provide an overview of your training, expertise and background in teaching children with juvenile bipolar disorder that allows you professionally to make this kind of assessment?

Your child is violating the needs of others.

Parents’ reply:
“Our child (as are all children with special needs) is afforded the civil rights to a Free and Appropriate Education at the Public’s Expense. If there are aspects of our child’s disability that are problematic to others, than it may be reasonable to assume that the placement is not correct, the services are not appropriate or complete enough. There may be a combination of factors here at the root cause of the problem. Therefore, we request that a Functional Behavioral Assessment be conducted to assist the team in clarifying what may be happening here, for the benefit of all the students.”

Resources >

This article was written by Janice Papolos (co-author of The Bipolar Child, Revised Edition), Mary Jane Hatton, and Sandi Norelli, (co-directors of the JBRF Educational Team), Christine E. Garcia, M.Ed., and Anne Marie Smith, M.Ed.
Copyright © 2002. All Rights Reserved.


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