IEPs and Legal Issues

Scared for our safety

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Joined: Dec 02, 2009
Posts: 1
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Posted Dec 02, 2009 at 9:03:40 AM
Subject: Scared for our safety

I recently received a new student in my mainstream classroom classified as ED. A lot has happened to this student in his young life, but I don't know exactly what. The behaviors displayed in school are dangerous and I am in fear for the safety of all of us. The school psychologist refuses to discuss with me the contents of the psych reports that arrived with him. The mother expressed her feelings in an IEP meeting that she thinks he would be better served by a specialized school that can deal with his ED issues. She was told that was an option at her own expense. After the meeting she shared with me that she is afraid in her own home and will be meeting with a guidance clinic to determine if this student should be placed outside of the home.

My question is, do I have the right to ask for another IEP meeting and demand that all the documentation for this student be shared with the team? It's my understanding that by signing off on the meeting I agreed to the current IEP, and honestly I feel this student needs a far more restrict environment than a mainstreamed classroom with resource pull out. This student has threatened to rape female students and has ripped apart electronic equipment trying to set fires in my classroom. I'm afraid for my safety, my student's safety, and his safety as well. I am not a sped teacher and am not trained to deal with students with these kinds of issues. What are my rights as a teacher to protect myself and the rest of my class?

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Joined May 05, 2008
Posts: 424

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Posted:Dec 02, 2009 3:09:47 PM

Sounds like psych issues rather than LD. Typically children with LD have harmless or accidentally harmful behaviors. Typically they are not threat to anyone on this level.

I think you should advise the mother if she feels her son needs more help and is that scared of him, to sue the school as they can not give her what she needs. If the school can not meet the needs of a student, then the parent has the right i do believe in most states anyway if not all to sue for the cost of the private institution that can meet the needs of the student???

I am not sure what your rights are.... But psych information is a privacy issue legally speaking and it could be the councillor ccan't disclose for that reason?

My feeling is, you should have some right to call for something atleast and i hope someone else knows what because i don't. You could always talk to the mother too if you have no right to ask for an IEP meeting. Because i think she likely has the right to ask for one. I think right now the 2 of you are in agreement and are therefore int his situation eachother's best friends. I suspect you have few rights in this situation but if her son has an IEP i suspect she does have some rights. She may be willing to act on your suggestions to make you feel more comfortable or so you atleast have a full idea of what you have in your class.

Threatened to rape students? How old is this student??? Next time he makes such a threat perhaps try the police or next time he tries to set a fire or rip up something in your class maybe call the cops to come and intervene so that it gets documented and will get the court system involved to give this poor mother some relief or someone who is there to deal with real problems rather than to push papers around while trying to cut costs rather than giving students what they really need.

But i dunno i hope someone else can help you.

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Joined Apr 29, 2008
Posts: 135

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Posted:Dec 10, 2009 10:20:13 AM


I read your posting and this has struck a nerve with me. Please allow me to respond to your concerns:

1) As a classroom teacher you are in a position of a "need to know" about any and all students within your responsibility. To the extent the school psychologist withholds information is an abridgment and a myopic view of confidentiality. IDEA, FERPA, and your state regulations that govern scholastic records speak very clearly to special education records and who has a right of access.

2) As a classroom teacher, you are a "mandated" and required member of the IEP Committee as required by both federal and state regulations. Also, to the extent this child is in your classroom you have assumed a duty to ensure this child's IEP is fulfilled for this child to benefit from his defined assessed special education needs. From your description of the issues, I do not believe there is much "benefit" being achieved. So yes, you have the legitimate privilege to call an IEP to address your concerns with regard to the present level of performance regarding this child.

3) As a classroom teacher, you have described some very serious disciplinary infractions generated by this student. Why have you not referred these to your Building Principal for disciplinary action? The behaviors exhibited by this student are serious violations of the school division code of conduct and can be dealt with even though the child has a disability.

4) As a classroom teacher I would be very careful of the "sidebar" and "friendly conversations" you might be having with this child's parent. These conversations have a way of creating a delicate and negative situation for a teacher who at best is just trying to do the right thing. The process to discuss your concerns is within the IEP process to improve special intervention or to have the Committee consider what is an appropriate education for this student. Please do not fall into the quagmire of you being in the middle of a parental dispute with the local school division. In the worst case scenario, you are ultimately a witness for the school division and not the parents in these matters. I can cite you very specific instances where school personnel have met very negative outcomes that resulted from working outside the school division procedures to address such matters. You must be very careful of the opinions you are rendering out of frustration and also of email communications with the parent in these instances.

4) As for a student's scholastic record, please understand that any report, written or electronic that is shared in these instances becomes a part of the child's record. Specifically, the psychological assessment in the possession of this psychologist is a part of the eligibility record and therefore a part of the child's school record. Make no mistake about this that both confidential and cumulative record information are a part of the same record.

5) Finally, school safety and having a safe environment in the school setting is of major concern to everyone. You need to sit down with your Building Principal and discuss these concerns with that person. The advice you received about taking legal action borders on the absurd and ridiculous. These are student behavioral issues that cannot be tolerated and your Principal needs to be informed of the seriousness of the matter for him or her to take appropriate actions. My sense is that this student has a diagnostic label of ED but the issues are much deeper than this and would likely require some serious interventions available within the community.

I hope this response provides you some assistance. Please let me understand what state you are a teacher and whether your school is public or private.


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Joined May 02, 2008
Posts: 10

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Posted:Dec 28, 2009 11:48:25 PM

Your situation is regrettably not uncommon. School districts are responsible for providing appropriate services for children with disabilities, and some have been found responsible for the educational portion of the costs of psychiatric placements for children who need them. Getting there is never easy, and while IDEA mandates this, there are many hoops parents may have to jump through to get such a placement.

As a teacher, you're in a difficult situation. You may want to consider providing the parent with contact information for your state's department of protection and advocacy. They may get the help they need without your being caught in the middle between the parent and your employer.

These agencies can help parents navigate both the education system and the state's mental health system to get services the child needs.

You can find a state-by-state listing of resources here:

The Advocacy agencies for each state are usually the fifth item down on these lists (or close to it).

I hope this helps.


Ann Logsdon, Learning Disabilities Guide About.com About.com is a New York Times Company

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