Who Needs a Copy of the IEP?

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.