IEP Related Services are important

IMG_1952An IEP is a contract to provide services to a student with a disability.  The parent consents to the content and the school district is then responsible for ensuring all IEP components are delivered immediately.

A service in the IEP document can be contained anywhere is the document itself.  While often paraprofessional support, for example, is in the Service Delivery Grid, this and other programming components are just as enforceable if placed in the PLEPs, Additional Information, or Schedule Modification.

No matter where a component is located within the IEP document, and no matter whether it’s delivered directly by the school team or by a contractor, ALL services are part of the IEP contract the school and family have both signed.  Related or contracted services need to be delivered.

For example, there is no more basic or needed IEP related service than transportation for many kids.  In my own district, or perhaps in district’s collaborative (SEEM) which contracts transportation, there is only one company used.  It’s called NRT.   My son has his own van (by chance), plus he attends a school close to home.  His van comes at erratic times, if at all.  There’s no pattern to performance  (ie: late pick-ups happen as frequently on perfectly clear days as they does on bad weather days).  This “company” never calls to say they are running late, be it 15 minutes or 50 minutes.   Every student, mine included, is entitled to access his programming and the bus is supposed get him to school on time.

Last week in its entirety, the bus showed up late in the morning (one day it didn’t come at all).  On Thursday, the bus showed up at my son’s school for pick-up after 4:00pm (the school day ends at 3:15pm).  It’s only his bus at his school with these problems (ie: it’s not a systemic problem with all transportation companies).  This is where (I wonder) if being an advocate has made the company more stand-offish and retaliatory.  The district hasn’t known what to do (despite the fact it’s their pocketbook paying for incompetence).   I worry the staff at the collaborative program- Andrew’s wonderful teachers- who stayed nearly an hourly late due to something which was not an emergency, will be upset.  I owe them some homemade cookies.

My district I think finally understands how dysfunctional their vendor is. But the calls, emails, and stress to get my son to school has been painful.  Transportation was so bad in October, I drove my boy every day for 3 weeks.

I was raised in New England; snow is a pain and it’s also part of life. Yet kids have to get to school on the days school is open. We adults, even those like me working in education, get to school on time. If a contracted IEP service isn’t being delivered, inform your special ed director.  You can also inform the school business manager and the Superintendent.   Document your concerns to the School Committee by sending a letter to the person who accepts the committee’s correspondence.  If possible, come to the meeting and speak during public participation.  Change only happens when there are many families dealing with the same issue, and they all bring their concerns to the district.

Transportation is just as critical as speech and language or occupational therapies.  Hold your district accountable for the provision of all services in the IEP.