Elementary Teacher

As an elementary teacher for 12 years, I sat in many IEP meetings and was always asked for my input into the student's well being within the classroom. There are times when an IEP can be a life saver for the teacher, student, and parent. At other times, it can be a constricting document that must be upheld and documented.
I had one student in fourth grade who came to me at the beginning of the year reading on a kindergarten level. He struggled with everything except mathematics and creativity. He had a brilliant imagination and a ton of energy. We worked diligently on his reading skills using books from his interest (Goosebumps Series). At the end of the year, he had improved to a 2.5 (second grade, fifth month) reading level, but was still struggling in all subject areas due to his low reading level. I had previously taught 5th grade and did not feel that he was ready for the rigorous curriculum he would face the next year. After a conference with his mother and the principal, we all agreed that he should remain in 4th grade, in my classroom for another year. Unfortunately, the Special Education Coordinator did not agree with us. When we went in for the IEP conference, the principal informed her that we wanted this student to be retained in fourth grade. The Special Education Coordinator flatly refused to sign an IEP that would keep the child in fourth grade. In addition, she asked each one of us (the principal, the parent, and myself) to sign a document stating that she disagreed with our decision. It was one of the most stressful IEP experiences that I ever had, but one of the best. The child remained in my class for another year and made great progress in reading. When he left my class after the second year, he was reading on a 4.2 level, still behind 5th grade level, but much better than kindergarten! We formed a bond that has lasted many years. I eventually transferred to the high school in the same system and this student repeatedly came to me whenever he needed help with a subject or just to talk about his life. I have never regretted retaining that student against the advise if the Special Education Coordinator and I've always been thankful for the moral support of my principal and the parent during this time.