These meetings can turn nasty, and many autism parents have “IEP horror stories.” One parent told me that she tried to ease tensions by bringing cookies to the meeting. The principal then shouted to his staff, “Nobody touch those cookies!” Another parent writes of asking for a sensory diet, a personalized activity plan that helps the student stay focused (e.g., low noise levels for those with a sensitivity to sound). “After just proclaiming she is extremely knowledgeable about Asperger’s Syndrome, from the mouth of a school psychologist after we suggested our son needed a sensory diet. `Our cafeteria does not have the ability to provide this.’”EducationAdmin Web Advisor reports:
The Hampton City Schools system in Virginia must make amends after the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) determined that the school system had unlawfully retaliated against a parent by demanding that she be fired from her job for advocating on behalf of her daughter, a special needs student in one of the system’s elementary schools. The parent was fired by her employer, a contractor for Hampton City Schools, after the school system informed the contractor it did not want the parent working with its schools.
Prior to that adverse employment action, the parent had complained about the adequacy of her daughter’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). School officials contend that some of the parent’s demands were unreasonable, including requests to schedule IEP meetings outside of school and working hours. The student’s principal also alleged that the parent “verbally attacked” staff members at an IEP meeting and accused one staff member of a breach of confidentiality. However, the parent’s employer judged her work performance to be satisfactory, leaving OCR to conclude that the termination of her services was attributable to her advocacy on behalf of her child.
Such a retaliatory action, said OCR, violates the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, both of which prohibit discrimination against disabled individuals by public entities, including public education systems, and make it unlawful to retaliate against an individual for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege secured by these laws.
To remedy its conduct, the Hampton City Schools agreed to take several corrective actions, including amending its policies to prohibit retaliation, posting notices of its anti-discrimination policies and complaint procedures, and providing training to school administrators on retaliation.