Special education attorneys frequently warn school staff about the legal
problems which arise when schools fail to keep student information
confidential. However, schools can also run into legal trouble if they keep a
student’s IEP too confidential. A good example of this issue is Prince
George’s County Public Schools, 66 IDELR 203 (MD SEA 2015).
In this case, a school district in Maryland was found to have violated the
IDEA when it failed to provide a bus driver with a complete copy of the IEP
of a student with autism. The IEP required several bus accommodations and
supports. The bus driver was given a “route sheet” which indicated some of
the accommodations required but did not list every accommodation or
support. The school had no documentation to prove that the bus driver was
notified about the accommodations or supports that weren’t listed on the
route sheet. The Maryland State Department of Education held that the
school had failed to properly implement the IEP. The Department reasoned
that since the school district is required to ensure that the student receives
the services required by the IEP, so it is also up to the school district to
ensure that every teacher and service provider who is responsible for its
implementations have access to the student’s IEP.
It is school district’s responsibility to ensure every staff member who
implements the IEP has access to the document. This may involve
implementing a procedure to determine who needs a copy of the IEP and
ensuring that those people receive a copy. Many schools rely on an
accommodations checklist similar to the route sheet used in Prince George’s
County. This case should serve as a warning that if schools are providing
something other than the full IEP to staff, that separate document must
include all the accommodations and supports a student is entitled to receive.
If you have questions about how to communicate with staff about special
education students or any other questions, we recommend that you consult
with your school district’s attorney or call Karen, Steve or Bobby.