As a special education teacher, I was recently directed to make changes to an IEP. This directive came as a result of an audit. Many teachers were told to remove accommodations since "they were built into the program". My colleague and I both looked at each other confused. I was also irate for the following reasons:
The direction made no sense.
There was no context.
The accommodation was needed by the student who accessed multiple settings.
There was only to be a phone call explanation to the caregiver.
Now, my colleague wasn't sure what to do. She knew it didn't feel right but didn't want to upset our superior. I also figured other teachers were given similar directives. I could do two things in this situation:
Remove the accommodations,
Ignore the directive, or
Respectfully fight back.
I chose option three. I sent a firm email to those who gave the directive asking for clarification. After one day, an email was sent to all teachers who received the directive. We were told to stop making the change. She also provided teachers with an explanation for compliant accommodations.
Now, why did I want to share the above experience? Because you need to trust your gut. If something shared about your child's IEP seems weird, it's usually weird. But, you can advocate for your child or develop a deeper understanding of the IEP process during such situations.
Recognize that special education is a complicated beast. Questions are learning opportunities for all at the table.
Be firm but polite. The tone in which you ask questions, or even make requests, matters. You have to say it in a way that is assertive but not demanding, aggressive or mean.
Talk to others. Emotions run high at the IEP table. Our perception of things could be skewed or we are not in a head space to communicate effectively. Talking to others can give you a different perspective, encouragement, or affirmation.
If you have ever been at an IEP table where someone said something that didn't seem right. That didn't seem logical. That didn't make sense. Trust. Your. Gut. You are not alone. If you have questions but don't feel like they are being answered. If you do not feel heard. If you need help navigating the field of special education do not hesitate to reach out.
As an IEP coach, I can help:
1. Compose communication with your IEP team,
2. Review documents to raise concerns to your team,
3. And help collaborate for your child's success.