After reading about the Matanzas High School student being charged with aggravated battery due to his IEP not being followed, I needed to write about it.  Getting an IEP is one thing, but unless it’s followed with fidelity then it’s not going to work. After the IEP is put in place, it is important to stay on top of the school and ensure they are implementing it appropriately. When schools don’t follow an IEP they are failing their students.

So, what exactly is an IEP? Well, it’s like the personalized roadmap for students with special education needs. Each IEP is as unique as a fingerprint, tailored to the specific requirements of the individual student. Whether it’s addressing learning disabilities, behavioral challenges, or other exceptionalities, the IEP is the golden ticket to ensuring that every student gets the education they deserve.

Now, let’s talk about fidelity. No, it’s not about being faithful to your morning coffee routine (though that’s important too). In the education world, fidelity means sticking to the plan – and in this case, it’s sticking to the IEP. It’s not just a piece of paper to file away in a drawer; it’s a living, breathing document that should guide every step of a student’s educational journey.

So, why is it so crucial for schools to follow the IEP with fidelity? Well, for starters, it’s all about inclusivity. The IEP is designed to level the playing field for students who face unique challenges. By following it to a T, schools are creating an environment where every student, regardless of their abilities or disabilities, has an equal shot at success.

Think of it like a recipe – if you skip an ingredient or mess up the measurements, the end result won’t be as tasty. Similarly, deviating from the IEP can mean missing out on the essential ingredients needed for a student’s academic and personal growth. It’s not just about meeting legal requirements; it’s about nurturing potential and setting students up for a future full of possibilities.

But it’s not just about the students. When schools embrace the IEP with fidelity, they’re sending a powerful message to the entire community. It shows that they value diversity, equity, and inclusion. It fosters a culture of understanding and acceptance, breaking down barriers and promoting empathy among students, parents, and educators alike.

Of course, following the IEP with fidelity isn’t always a walk in the park. It requires commitment, communication, and collaboration. ALL teachers, administrators, and support staff need to be on the same page, working together to ensure that every aspect of the IEP is implemented effectively. If this had happened, the Matanzas HS student would not be facing a prison sentence.

So, there you have it – the importance of schools following the IEP with fidelity in a nutshell. It’s not just about paperwork; it’s about creating a learning environment where every student can thrive. It’s about recognizing and celebrating the unique strengths and challenges that make each student special. After all, when it comes to education, one size does not fit all, and the IEP is the key to unlocking the full potential of every student.