Unseemly IEP Member: “The Wimp”
Published on May 9, 2009 by Jennifer Laviano
This is the person on your IEP team who you KNOW completely agrees with you, but who is completely unwilling to stand up for what they believe when the IEP meeting comes around. This is almost always a teacher or service provider, and is often someone who has told you many times “off the record” that they don’t believe your child is getting enough service.
Sometimes, this person is the first to validate your concerns about your child’s special education program, and yet does not have the courage to say so openly.
For example, your child’s regular education teacher tells you that your child is not “fitting in with the other kids,” seems overwhelmed academically, and doesn’t seem to be learning in such a large environment. So, when you ask for a 1:1 paraprofessional at the IEP meeting, and she says nothing, you make a comment like “I have the impression that he is really overwhelmed in the mainstream class without more support,” and her response is “he struggles sometimes, but I’m usually able to redirect him.” Said response usually immediately follows the special education administrator telling you that they wouldn’t agree to paraprofessional support.
Many parents feel betrayed and undermined when a person working with their child “sugar coats” what is actually going on.
I do understand that there is a great deal of pressure placed on teachers and service providers to “tow the party line,” but my view of it is this: if you made the decision to work with children, especially children with disabilities, then you have the absolute responsibility to be honest about what they need. Otherwise, you are not just betraying that one child, you are betraying your profession.