5 THINGS SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS SHOULD NEVER SAY DURING AN IEP MEETING
1).“We cannot hire another nurse just for your child.”
I know it seems as if this response would be preferable to explaining to the board of education that it now must hire a full-time nurse. If you choose to handle it this way, you won’t be spending your summer by the pool. Instead, you’ll get to spend your time with the... school district’s attorney preparing for direct and cross examination.
While it is often difficult to draw a distinction between nursing services and medical services, that is precisely what you must do. If the student needs nursing services to assist him or her in taking part in the educational process, then that is what must be provided — period.
2). "Your child will be graduating at the end of the month whether you like it or not."
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.
3).“We’ve spent too much time on this already, let’s move on.”
Face it, sometimes you are not going to be able to agree. While the development of the IEP is supposed to be a collaborative process where, ideally, the team reaches consensus on each and every item contained in the IEP, sometimes that is not going to happen.
When it becomes clear consensus will not be reached, remember that a decision still needs to be made. Instead of being argumentative, explain to the parents it appears the team is unable to reach agreement and that, as the administrator, it is your responsibility under the law to make the final decision, and then do it.
4). "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"
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.”
5). “We don’t think that is appropriate, but if you want it, we’ll put it in the IEP.”
This comment by a school district administrator is a natural consequence of not making the decision required. Too often we add items to the IEP we know are inappropriate in order to appease the parents. When faced with this temptation, remember the first rule in school law — nice guys and gals finish last. You have an obligation to the child to develop an appropriate IEP that will provide educational benefit to him or her, not to appease the parents, as appealing as that may be during a tense moment. If it is on the IEP, anyone (including the due process hearing examiner) who looks at it will have no legal basis to ignore your peace offering and will expect it to be implemented.