Conflicts of Interest for the IEP Team

Our analysis shows that a great many influences since 1975 have “caused” over-placement of at-risk children in special education. We can identify patterns which place members of the local IEP team in conflicts of interest. One assumes that local school administrators guide eligibility groups toward making objective decisions. However, it is more often not in the best interests of participants to turn away children from special education. Here are some suggestions:

1. Superintendents – benefit from financial gains for the school district.

2. Occupational therapists, counselors, physical therapists, reading specialists, speech therapists – benefit from employment opportunities through school contracts.

3. Regular classroom teachers – benefit from not having to teach difficult pupils.

4. Special education teachers – benefit sufficient numbers to justify out-of-classroom placements.

5. Directors of special education – benefit from having positive social outcomes of IEP meetings.

6. School psychologists – benefit from having positive outcomes of IEP meetings and a respected role in the district.

7. Parents – benefit from having their children receive extra services.

The idea of “Teamwork” overrides individuals. Members sense voting against placement is not in the spirit of the moment. Neither does dismissal catch the spirit. The “culture of compliance” centers around overidentification and retention fostering good will among team members with special interests.

Sometimes children are the only ones who advocate against placement. “My daughter requested to be able to be with her class instead of leaving for four 1/2 sessions a week for resource (3 half hour sessions for math and 1 half hour for speech). She said she has been embarrassed and didn’t like being away from her new classmates….In the meeting yesterday I was surprised when the ‘team’ suggested waiting until December (or longer) so they can watch her progress… I said no and that I wanted to honor her request to be with her new classmates” (City Data), 2009).

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