Unseemly IEP Team Member: “The Smiling Assassin”
Published on May 7, 2009 by Jennifer Laviano
“The Smiling Assassin”
This can be any staff member, but in my experience it’s usually an administrator. The hallmarks of the Smiling Assassin are that they routinely make comments that make them appear like they are helping you out, but really their actions are in direct contrast to their comments.
It’s not until a parent is on their way home from the IEP meeting, or worse, months or years later, when they start to piece together that this person is no friend to them or their child.
Some examples misleading statements of Smiling Assassins are things like:
▪“We completely agree with you that Billy needs more speech services, so we’re going to switch his half an hour weekly of direct service, to a full hour of consult by the speech pathologist.” (hidden truth: this child just lost direct speech therapy)
▪ “I have read the recommendation you’ve provided from Jane’s psychiatrist that she requires an immediate therapeutic placement because of her Bipolar Disorder, and we concur. Simply sign here and confirm that you agree that Jane needs a therapeutic placement for medical reasons and we will do whatever is necessary to work with you to return her here when she’s ready.” (hidden truth: the school just avoided having to pay for the therapeutic placement by getting the parent to agree that it’s a “non-educational” placement)
▪ “Yes, I understand that you disagree with the Team about David’s program, and that you intend to exercise your rights to Due Process. However, and I’m just telling you this because I like you Mrs. Jones, if you lose that Hearing, you will have to pay the Board’s attorney’s fees.” (hidden truth: this is a complete mis-statement of the law on attorneys’ fees, parents do not have to pay the school’s attorneys fees just because they lose the Hearing)
Be wary of the Smiling Assassin. They are often in a position to really undermine your child’s services, and your case if you end up in a dispute down the road.