You remember at the dinner table (perhaps most notably the Thanksgiving Dinner table) when you would ask someone to pass something along? Maybe it was the stuffing bowl; maybe it was the cranberry sauce; maybe it was the dinner rolls; or maybe it was the fruit cake (OK, I know it wasn’t the fruit cake because no one asked to have that passed, unless it was to pass it along to the waste basket).
The point is, you wanted to make sure everyone at the table had equal and full access to every part of the meal. Wouldn’t you have felt left out if you didn’t get any mashed potatoes? or Pumpkin Pie? or [insert your favorite part of the meal here]? Of course you would.
The same principle applies to your child’s IEP. You want to make sure each and every teacher and school staff member that may encounter your child has equal and full access to your child’s IEP.
Failure to do so might result in one teacher violating the IEP unknowingly or not knowing how to respond to a certain situation. For example, if the gym teacher doesn’t know that Tina isn’t supposed to be required to participate in group sports and the gym teacher makes her the pitcher in softball, Tina may have a complete meltdown or other reaction that triggers her disability. Then Tina may have to miss her remaining classes for the day, all because the gym teacher didn’t even know Tina had an IEP and wouldn’t have assigned her to that task had she known.
As a parent, do not assume the school has circulated your child’s IEP to all of the contact points. You need to handle this yourself. Whether that means sending an electronic copy to each contact person by email or even walking a hard copy in to every person, you need to assure that this is done. You need to consider every potential aspect of your child’s day: special education teachers; general education teachers; “specials” teachers (art, music, gym, computer lab, etc.); school nurse; school guidance counselor; director of special education; vice principal; principal; even the janitor, if that person interacts with your child. So what if they’ve already received it? A duplicate is not going to harm them (and an electronic duplicate doesn’t harm the environment).
This is not a silly concept. If your child is experiencing some aspect of his/her disability, let’s say it is epileptic attacks, and a teacher encounters your child not knowing what is going on, they may make an incorrect and potentially dangerous decision. A simple thing like providing these personnel with the IEP at least will clue that person into the fact that someone in special education or the medical staff need to be alerted to the situation.
So, much like the salt and pepper on the dinner table, make sure you pass the IEP to everyone at your child’s school to avoid any misunderstandings and help your child succeed in the system – even if they never have need of the IEP (like the salt).