An IEP may be beautifully written with the best of intentions but a parent may begin to notice that the mandated services are not being provided, or are being provided inconsistently. This may occur when mainstream teachers ignore the modifications and/or accommodations set down in the student’s IEP. The parent has not only to question this, but must document it as well. The parent’s first course of action is to remind the school in writing that they are required to follow the IEP. The more documentation that a parent has, the better the case that he or she will be able to advocate for the child if corrections are not made and the situation heads to mediation or due process. (Hearing officers do not like to see that schools are out of compliance with an IEP so a parent needs to document carefully.)

Any omission of an accommodation or a service should be noted in a log by the parent, and a letter detailing this omission should be sent to the special education teacher with copies to the school administrator and program manager at the district level. If the matter is handled over the telephone, a letter should be written as a follow-up to confirm the content of the discussion that says: “This is to follow up in writing what we discussed on the telephone today…”

If matters do not improve with dialogue and follow-up documentation, a parent should contact his or her state’s Protection and Advocacy group. This is a nationwide network that, among other things, devotes considerable resources to ensuring full access to inclusive educational programs. A phone call or letter from the Protection and Advocacy group requesting accommodations or that accommodations already in place be complied with, or the presence of one of the P&A personnel at an IEP meeting almost always ensures things happening.

To find the Protection and Advocacy group in your state, call the National Association of Protection and Advocacy Inc. at 203-408-9514; or visit their web site at and click on “P & A’s/CAPS.

If matters still do not get resolved, the IDEA includes rules of procedure for resolving such complaints. These rules include mediation, due process hearings, and appeals to the state or federal courts. (See the section on Mediation and Due Process Hearings.)