24 answers

IEP Who Should Attend/ Who Is the "Boss of Teachers" the Principal?

HI Mammas... thank you in advance for your help! I have a special needs child 10 who has an IEPand a behavior plan. I am not convinced his plan is being followed by his teacher and I get mixed messages from her often. I spoke to the principal a few months ago and verbalized my concerns, but nothing has changed. His last IEP was in May... he has the same SDC teacher as last year ( that I am not overly happy with) but everyone else at his IEP meeting is now gone... so new principle, new homeroom teacher etc. so I wanted to call an IEP to make sure everyone is following his IEP and behaviour plan for the remainder of the year. i have been told 4 different dates so far that keep changing. I requested the IEP 1/20 so I understand they have 30 days to set up a meeting. I requested his SDC (special Day Class for special ed kids)teacher/ homeroom teacher/ school psychologist and principal to be at the meeting. I just received word they have now set a meetign by the principal will not be there. Should I require the principal to be there??? I really wanted them there b/c I question this teachers teaching ability and follow through and have many examples of confusing notes/ conflicting messages etc regarding my son from her. Is the principal the teacher's boss? If so I would like them there as I want to express my concern regarding this teacher. Thoughts? Should I require the principle there or let it slide??? Thanks in advance! C.

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Yes it can be done without the Principal being there, but if you want the Principal there then you need to request that a new date be chosen. The Principal is the boss over the school site and is over that teacher. Set a new date to have the Principal there.

You must have an administrator at the IEP meeting. So unless they are having someone from the district office special education department attend in the prinicipal's place, then the prinicipal must attend.

More Answers

I wouldn't push it on the principal. They don't really have much power to inforce a teachers classroom behavior. It's certainly your right to request their presence but it wouldn't be guaranteed they could attend anyway. My son has been getting IEP's for years and for almost as long I have called a quarterly meeting with EVERYONE involved with him, in what I call his "support staff". So that would include his teachers, aids that worked with him regularly, therapists, psr workers, service coordinators, etc. I always hold this meeting at the school and as many people that were able to attended. I love these meetings because it really helps me see where my son is at, it lets each of his staff see what the other is working on with him and even lets them coordinate a bit. It gives us a heads up if there is an item on the IEP that needs to be reevaluated. There have been times where the principal was there and other times he/she wasn't.

If your son's plan really isn't being followed, you have to right to insist that it is. You may need to find an advocate for your son to make sure it's followed. Several years ago I upset the secretary at my sons school before it had even started for the season and she made things really difficult for me the rest of the year bu tit had to be done. My sons IEP specifically stated that he was to be in p.m. K and we had written it months previously. She called to tell me that there was no room in p.m. K and he had to be in a.m. K. She was very snippy with me when I reminded her the school was required to follow it and she very pointedly reminded me that it wasn't fair to the families of the two students she would have to drop from the p.m. class to make room for a special needs child. Well, if she had done her job properly in the first place, then it wouldn't have happened. But if I hadn't stepped forward and made sure he got what his IEP stated, then my son wouldn't not have gotten the best start possible.

Obviously, I have no idea what your IEP states, or requires. When you call your meeting, have the teacher prepare a progress report showing you where your son is at with his goals and if he's showing progress or even meeting/exceeding the goals. If he's showing actual progress, I really wouldn't worry too much about the teacher. But, if this far in, he's showing little to no progress then you certainly need to look into the teachers methods as well as reevaluate his IEP; the goals may be too high. When you have your meeting, document before what you expect to accomplish and so you can keep yourself on track. Document everything that has given you cause for concern and make sure it's all resolved to YOUR satisfaction.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

You really NEED an advocate NOW! The school has been dragging their feet and your child's right to have an education is not being followed. There are people who can help you and get you what you need to have NOW!

P. Amic CEO/Clinical Director
Special Beginnings, Inc.
An Early Intervention Network

I know this situation has already passed, but your IEP is a legal document. I would request the school present proof (I would make sure it was some sort of data collection-behavioral and academic- not just the teacher saying it is being followed or not) that the IEP is being followed. If they do not or you continue to have trouble call the school district special educaiton office and request a due process hearing. Remember you and your child have legal rights. If necessary you can generallly get an advocate volunteer to work with you.

I taught middle school in a private school the past 6 years, took this year off. I have been to many IEP meetings/case conferences. My principal was only there is there was something she wanted to address. In other words, she only went if there was a problem. Usually it was me (classroom teacher), behavior consultant (if applicable), special ed. teacher, and a lady from the special ed office (don't know her title) who did all the paperwork. So, in my school, it was not normal that my Principal was there. But, she did debrief with the teacher after the conferences were over.
If a parent requests that certain people are in the meeting, then they should be there. If the Principal can't be there, maybe you should schedule a meeting with her, with our without the classroom, after the IEP meeting to debrief. Legally they have to fulfill his IEP accomodations and time requirements. If anyone is not, you need to be very proactive!

As a public school teacher for 10 years I have learned that the principal is not necessarily the boss of teachers. The principal can try telling the teachers what to and not to do; can even report/ write up the teacher. However in our current system, it takes a lot to fire a teacher (usually as a result of a teacher's gross misconduct). I would request the principal to be at the meeting, but if he/ she cannot, then meet with them separately. If you feel that your child is not getting the education he should be, request for a new teacher or transfer to another school (as I have found those options give better/ faster results than arguing/ ultimately fighting with poor teachers). Good luck!

As a regular ed teacher, I have been to about 20 IEP meetings and I have never seen the principal in a meeting. My husband is an SDC teacher and it is my understanding that the official IEP meeting is only once a year, but he has parents that he meets with on a monthly basis. Have you verbalized your concerns directly with the teacher? If so, I would request having a meeting with yourself and the principal to go over your concerns before the offical IEP with the whole crew. If the principal is not special ed savvy, I would go to a department chair, district special ed director or program specialist.

By law there has to be an administrator OR an administrator's designee at the meeting. If the principal is not going to be there, ask who the administrator present is going to be. Sometimes when our principal can't make it, we have the District's Special Ed Director come in her place. I'm a counselor and we used to be able to sign off as the administrator's designee, but our district decided that was not appropriate anymore, and only administrators can sign off as the administrator. So there has to be SOMEONE there in that role. Find out who they were planning to have in that role.

The IEP team is supposed to provide you a firm date in writing within 10 days of your request, and while that date can be changed, it cannot be pushed past the 30 days without your written consent.

You have the right to insist that the principal be there, although I doubt that it will make much of a difference. While the principal is technically the teacher's boss, most principals have very little special ed experience and will often keep a "hands off" approach. If the principal can't make it to the meeting (and you choose not to pursue it) I would insist that you be able to meet with him/her prior to the IEP to reiterate your concerns. You can also request that a representative from the school district attend if the principal is unavailable. Usually someone from the Special Ed office has a little more clout, and will certainly keep the teacher on their toes.

That said, please try to voice your concerns in a calm and courteous manner. Things can quickly be misconstrued and I have seen all too often what happens when things become contentious. Try to back up your concerns with facts and evidence, and expect the teacher to do the same. It also helps if you can come prepared with reasonable suggestions to improve communication such as a daily log or weekly emails.

Yes, the principal should be there. First of all, an adminstrator is required to be at the meeting (per IDEA). Second, she really is the one untimately responsible for teachers and to be sure the IEP is being implemented. Even higher up is the Director or Coordinator of Special Education. You could request that they be there as well.

Most teachers have a department head and then may report to an assistant principle too. Ultimately, the principal is in charge of the whole school.

You should be able to just have a parent teacher conference and include the assistant princpal if necessary (but first you should address it with the teacher). You shouldn't need to schedule an IEP unless you are looking to change what is ordered.

Hi C.-

In our school district, the teachers report to the principal but the SDC teacher also reports to the Director of Special Education. If it were me, I'd request the Director attend the IEP.

Come to the meeting with your list of issues and also your ideas for solving those issues. Let them know what does and doesn't work at home. Be open to trying new things and encourage open (daily?) communication between the teachers and yourself.

If you haven't done so recently, I strongly encourage you to observe your son at school for a day. You will be surprised (both good and bad) and will have more to talk about at the IEP.

Best of luck to you.

You need to keep making sure that everything is documented. You can ask that the principal be there but it is not mandated that he be there. However his main teacher, his special ed teacher, the school social worker, school councelor and school nurse should all be there. also someone from the district should be there as well as the special ed coordinator for the district. If you have concerns you need to have them written down before you go so you don't forget or get off track. each person there will give a report and if your concerns are not addressed bring them up again and again and again until they are. if they are not addressed and handled take it to the school board you are your sons best advocate.

You can ask to have it reschedule for a time the principal CAN be there... however, be aware that you can't actually REQUIRE anyone in particular attend... the whole IEP team will be invited, and certain folks are required to give input, but they CAN submit a written report instead. An administrator does need to be there, but she can "designate" anyone else to take her place in the meeting (ie another special ed teacher, special ed supervisor, etc.)

If it were me, I'd contact the principal, let her know you really want to have the meeting when she can attend and ask her when she can do it.


Yes get everyone at the meeting. It is very important.
A thought. If you can fit it in:
The best way to really know what is happening at school is to
volunteer at the school as much as possible.
I was almost a staff member when one of my children
was in grade school. MY pay was know what was going on
and having everyone respect me. Somehow all the right
decisions were made for classes extra stuff etc.......

There should be an administrator present for all IEP meetings. If you feel strongly that the principal should be there, then request it.

Is there a supervisor of Special Education? I dont know what SDC stands for (every state has its own initials!) If your child is in Special Education, check out your district website, if so ask if that supervisor can attend. You may need to reschedule again to get a supervisor there.
Is there a parents group for Special needs children? try to get opinion from other parents, are they also concerned about this teacher?

You must have an administrator at the IEP meeting. So unless they are having someone from the district office special education department attend in the prinicipal's place, then the prinicipal must attend.

The job of attending these meetings (we call them ARDs in Texas: Admission, Review and Dismissal)is typically delegated to the assistant principal, however, if you feel strongly about meeting with the principal, you should be able to request his/her presence or at least schedule a separate meeting to make him/her aware of your concerns.

The Principal really has nothing to do with the actual classroom and how this teacher does her job. The people who need to be there are the people who are in contact with your child in a one to one relationship. For example, the teacher, physical therapist, speech therapists, etc...the aides may or may not need to be there, I would not really want them there unless they are assigned to the son specifically. Any other professional who interacts with your son in any way that needs to be part of the team should be there.

C., first a definition. Sure we say "principal" but really their title is "principal teacher". They are responsible for the teachers on their site. It IS their job to ensure that the teachers are doing what they are supposed to be doing and yes, delivering the program as laid out in an IEP is one of their duties. An IEP is a living breathing document that should be revisited 2-4 times per year.
It is correct that a principal or designate has to be there. You can request it be the principal, but it may not be possible.
It is alright to request all parties working with your child to be there, however depending on the laws, they may only be required to meet at the designated times in the school year according to their role in the IEP. EX: As the special needs coordinator for my district for over 10 years, I was assigned to different schools/children in different months. If there was a meeting outside of that time frame i was not expected to attend. And as a SDC teacher in Los Angeles for a year, there were many times that a parent called a meeting and not all parties could attend. You have to understand the work load and the commitment. It would be great if all parents could have every meeting they requested, but then truly, when would we teach?
As for the conflicting messages, as you are the PRIMARY EDUCATOR of your son it is your responsibility to ensure that you understand what is going on. Keep record of the notes, the messages etc and set up a time to discuss them with her. If you have to do that weekly to ensure proper communication then so be it. Make sure all communication is in writing.
Good for you for staying on top of the IEP, it is a crucial document. Keep it alive and keep the teachers accountable, it is the law.

Family Success Coach

ps: C. C.? Like...my C.?

If you feel the principal should be there, demand it. Every IEP I've been to has ALWAYS had an administrator present (principal or vice principal). If you get the run-around on this point, I would simply call and schedule a meeting with the principal to voice your concerns. If you get the run-around on THAT, call your district level person in charge of special services and explain the run-around you've received.

Good luck!

Why not ask www.tacanow.org Go to their website and read up on it. This is advice AND the law by families of autism that have been through the worse of the worse. Go there, read, if your child has autism request a Mentor or call the office to get help ASAP. Your son's rights are totally being trampled on and the school district is treating you the same as they do everyone else when they can get away with it. Start requesting, and putting everything in writing, keep a log and go back in time and write down the details, dates.

You need an advocate, someone who knows what to do from this point on to work with you on this.

Dear C., yes the principal should be there along with the speach path, and do you have a regional center service cooridinator? Don't forget about an advocate. All teachers should attend Music, art, physical ed. and i also require my childs closest aide. The aide is a key person to what your child is doing everyday. My daughter Jamie is 15 yrs old Diagnosis of Autism at 3 yrs. I have been dealing with IEP for over 12 years now. I am not an expert, but i know what is best fior my child more thatn anyone else. DO NOT LET ANYONE MAKE YOU DO SOMETHING YOU DON'T WANT DONE. ANY QUESTIONS CONTACT ME J. H.

Yes it can be done without the Principal being there, but if you want the Principal there then you need to request that a new date be chosen. The Principal is the boss over the school site and is over that teacher. Set a new date to have the Principal there.

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