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Last Updated: 01/15/2018

 Ask the Advocate with Lynne Tamor


Question:  Is a special education teacher required to show an advocate how she individualizes for a student in the classroom?


Answer:  [This answer addresses only federal laws and regulations. Any individual state may have laws or rules that operationalize the vague requirements of the federal law.]

The Regulations associated with the IDEA 97 make repeated references to teachers’ responsibility to implement the IEP and to be accountable for that implementation (see Sections 300.342 and 300.350). They do not, however, make it explicit how that accountability is to be enforced. The laws and regulations also assume that parents will be aware of the nature of the implementation of their children’s IEPs, but do not provide explicit means for becoming aware. There is no mention of any rights for advocates, and the rights for an advocate to participate in the educational process derives from the parent’s rights under IDEA, §504, and FERPA.

Thus, it seems reasonable to say that parents do have a right to have a special education (or general education teacher) to show them how they are implementing their child’s IEP. If the IEP calls for modifications, accommodations, or adaptations, then the teacher should be able to show the parents what they are doing to comply with the IEP. Presumably, the parent should be able to designate another individual, an advocate, to represent them in reviewing IEP implementation, but the federal law makes no reference to advocates who represent parents.

Depending on the educational setting, teachers may prefer to “show” parents or advocates their efforts at individualization outside the classroom, that is, in a meeting rather than by having parents/advocates come into the classroom and observe. If a school or district has an open door policy for parents, it should generally apply in this situation as well. If there are defined procedures for visiting classrooms, and a parent/advocate can get the needed information by following those procedures, they should be followed. However, in some cases there may be a genuine conflict between a parent’s need to see first hand and a teacher’s concern with classroom management issues. These must be negotiated on a case-by-case basis.

You also need to be aware of the “methodology” argument that the school may raise in response to any disagreement the parent has with the how the program is individualized to the child. The argument is that as experts with formal training and certification in education, it is up to school staff and not the parent to determine what educational techniques and material is used to educate your child.
Lynne Tamor & John Brower


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