For every two fantastic teachers I have had, there has always been one teacher that wanted to make sure that I knew that the teacher considered my disability to be an inconvenience and would refuse to follow my 504/IEP. Yes, this is illegal, but that didn’t stop it from happening. Over the course of the school year, my family would collect documentation of teachers not following my 504/IEP, and have it on record to show to the school board or other agency. Here are six of the types of data we would download and keep for our records.
Class progress reports/grades
Most school systems have a database that parents and students can access so that students can review their grades, as well as view grades for individual assignments. Some examples of these databases are Edline, SchoolVue, Aspen, and others. Print off every page of data available for each course, and check to see that grades match assignments. Also check to make sure that the student was exempt from assignments with inaccessible materials, and not given a 0.
At my first high school, I was frequently sent out of class to go enlarge my assignments when the teacher forgot to do so. We saved these hall passes that contained teacher signatures and times that I was gone, and used them as evidence to show that my work frequently was not enlarged for certain classes. These experiences taught me a lot about self-advocacy- read more about that here.
IEP/504 meeting notes
My mom took notes on everything that was said during my meetings, and who it was said by. She didn’t rely on my case manager or other people present to prepare a transcript. In some school districts, parents can record an audio transcript during the meeting, but that option was never available to us.
If the school district sends it, save it. This is extremely helpful for filling out a timeline of events, and is less stressful than trying to remember who said what, and when. In addition to an online backup, print out emails and save the files in a backup location as well.
Graded assignments, or assignments in an inaccessible format
I saved copies of every assignment I received, as well as keeping copies of the assignments that were not in an accessible format. We would check these grades against the grades in our school database, and save the inaccessible materials as evidence that my 504/IEP was not followed in the classroom. For a couple of assignments, I had attached my hall pass at the top so there was a signed time/date stamp. Read more about my accommodations for print materials here.
At the end of the year, each teacher writes in an IEP evaluation, so that the special education staff and parents can see if accommodations were appropriate. One teacher, who had not followed my IEP, wrote an evaluation painting me as the worst student to ever exist, and filled it with inaccurate information about my behavior, and the behavior of the teacher themselves. It was unlike any of the other evaluations I had received from my other teachers, who wrote positive things about me, though noted that I had trouble remembering to hand in assignments. All of the claims that the other teacher had made were disproven using the types of data in this post- for example, they claimed I would refuse to do my assignments and read on my eReader instead, but the grade reports showed that I was exempt from those assignments, and there was no evidence that I had been disciplined for my actions (something that would certainly happen if another student in my class did the same thing). We also had copies of the assignments that were not enlarged. It took months for that teacher’s comments to be removed, and it helped for us to have a copy of the original evaluation and every other piece of data as well.
In addition to these documents, save copies of SAPs, 504s, and IEPs, as knowing these accommodations will be very helpful when transitioning into post-secondary education. In the event that the school district is investigated, all of these documents will prove to be invaluable to investigators as they learn more about the school district.
Wondering where to start when dealing with IEP violations? Check out my post on State Protection and Advocacy organizations here