IEP/504 in Elementary School

Parent Q&A

  • Dear parents, Are there any potential concerns associated with including positive behavior or PBIS goal in the IEP? My daughter is in general education class (2nd grade) with some push in services. The RSP teacher asked us to sign an amended IEP that included the following accommodation, "All consequences must be part of a positive reinforcement system or district positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) system" The RSP teacher mentioned that they are adding this to all IEPs in the school. I did not sign this yet as not much information was provided other than she telling that it will be helpful to have that accommodation in her IEP. Her classroom teacher mentioned during the last IEP that my kid was getting distracted a lot and not focusing in the classroom. But she is not disruptive or causing any harm to others. Now with this request, I am trying to understand the motivations of the teacher and/or school. Anyone with such experiences or experience with PBIS could please provide guidance? Also, is it okay to sign IEP without understanding what their intention is? Any suggestions or help is appreciated. Thanks, Concerned parent.

    Absolutely ask the school to explain it further, but generally, this is common for schools that are adopting positive behavior systems, and something you want them to be doing. What they mean is that your child should not be given negative consequences for undesired behavior, but instead any consequences should be part of a behavior plan that rewards the behavior you do want to see (vs. punishing the behavior you don't want to see). My guess is that your school is just beginning to use this system, and also that students with IEPs are more likely to be punished in negative ways, so they are codifying that the consequences need to be tied to the new positive behavior system. But they should be able to explain what this means at your particular school (and for your particular child), and you should definitely feel comfortable with everything in the IEP before signing it.

    NEVER sign an IEP if you don't understand it fully! 

    That being said, this sounds to me like they are trying to encourage positive reinforcement rather than teachers snapping at the kids only for behavior that's deemed negative or disruptive. I can say from personal experience that this is needed. This is about how the teachers handle disruptions, not whether your specific kid is disruptive. 

  • Hi Parents- 

    My husband and I are feeling at a loss about our son's educational progress and would love to hear from other parents that might have been through the same thing. 

    Our son is a first grader at a public school in Los Altos, he is happy, friendly, well behaved and generally loves school. We have always known he may have some ADHD or other LDs since they run in both sides of our family. We began noticing some attention and processing issues about mid-way through kinder last year and made a formal request to the district to have him assessed. After a group SST meeting the team had encouraged us to wait until he was 6 to just make sure that this isn't a maturity issue. Although my gut told me it wasn't a maturity issue we did agree to wait until he turned 6 to reconvene. 

    Long story short, they were not very helpful and actually pushed off his testing to the beginning of first grade. Once they formally assessed him they did note that he presented with ADHD-Combined (we have a formal diagnosis as well) but since he falls in the "low/average range" for state scores (even though he is reading at an emerging kinder level for our district) they determined he did not meet the criteria for an IEP. We left the initial meeting feeling defeated, unheard and concerned that our son will continue to just flounder. We ended up hiring an educational advocate who helped us reconvene our SST team and share our disappointment that they didn't find he qualified. They offered us a 504 plan and we have been trying our best to get the most out of it but at our teacher conference this week his classroom teacher said that he isn't advancing as quickly as he could because he needs more support (not just modifications that come with a 504). The teacher, as well as our pediatrician have concerns about his auditory processing speed and also his lack of fine motor skills (poor pencil grasp, incomplete letter formation, etc). I really feel like because our son doesn't have behavior issues (he is very social, has friends and can keep himself from wiggling too much with the help of his hokkei stool and fidget toys) his needs aren't being addressed very quickly. 

    It is our understanding that as parents we have the right to request an Independent Educational Evaluation performed by people outside the school psych and resource specialist to better understand his issues and ultimately help him get more support so he can thrive and not struggle so much but I am not sure how to request this. We'd like to do at least some of it on our own to save some money on educational consultants but we honestly aren't even sure where to start. 

    Any advice, suggestions or experience in this are would be greatly appreciated. 


    Concerned and overwhelmed mama

    Hi, our experience is with a different school district, as we’re here in Berkeley, but just wanted to say it’s quite often a “fight” with the school district to get services. Sometimes a long and expensive fight. Since he qualifies for a 504 but not an IEP, I’m pretty sure your family (as opposed to the school district) foots the bill for any outside evaluation(s). Have you searched the BPN archives?  There are lots of discussions of these issues. Two organizations that could help, although both in the East Bay, are DREDF in Berkeley and Family Resource Network in Oakland. Best of luck..  

    Hi Mama! I have strong feelings about the fact that every time a child with special needs enters the public school system, the parents have to reinvent the wheel. I was you 8 years ago. My son is now 13 and I am pretty good at getting him what he needs after years of practice and help by DREDF and DRC and just working hard to learn the laws, etc. Now I am ready to help you because I think it stinks that there is not enough support for children and families of kids with special needs entering public school. The parents who know how need to help the parents who are new. First, here is an excellent and informative article from Wright's Law (which should be your new best friend.)   And second, if you need any more help or someone to bounce things off of, email me and I can give you my #. I would be happy to listen and help where I can.


    Hi Concerned and Overwhelmed -

    I'm so sorry to hear about your experience. It can be confusing, overwhelming, and demoralizing to deal with schools and districts when your child needs to be assessed, or needs/has an IEP. I do lots of advocacy work, and am happy to talk to you about how to ask for an IEE, and how to navigate all of this.

    In the meantime, let the SST team know you would like an IEE done at the school's expense. An email will suffice. 

    The district then has to either agree to pay for an IEE with a district-approved assessor, or give you what's called Prior Written Notice. 

    If they refuse to pay for an IEE, you can proceed to Due Process with an attorney, but hopefully it won't come to that.

    You can also ask the district to accept the formal diagnosis you have from before, although it sounds like there might be some other deficits you want identified.

    Hope this helps somewhat. Please feel free to call me.


    Co-Director, Classroom Matters