The OSFAA in action….

There is a One Size Fits All Answer to any question about the content of a student’s IEP. Since everything in special ed land ends up as an acronym or initialism, we will refer to this as the OSFAA. The OSFAA tracks the requirements of the law, and recognizes that special education, compared to all other aspects of school operations, is upside down.

When parents, teachers, or taxpayers raise questions about how things are done at school, or why we don’t do things differently, the typical response involves a deferral to the administrator in charge of that area. Or to the board and its policy. Examples:

*A parent complains that the girls’ basketball team has uniforms that are not as nice as the boys. How do we respond? “Let me talk to the athletic director about that.”

*A parent is unhappy with where the bus picks the child up. Response: “I’ll talk to the transportation director about that.”

*Taxpayers don’t like the tax rate. “That’s set by the school board. You need to talk to them.”

*Parent wants a book removed from the library: “We have a policy about that. Let’s take a look at it.”

In contrast, we need to respond differently if the parent wants an addition to the IEP, such as a one-to-one aide, or a new piece of assistive technology, or an increase in speech therapy. In those cases the proper response should begin with:


In fact, that’s the only legally defensible response. No one other than the ARD Committee can decide what goes into the child’s IEP. Special ed is upside down. Decisions are not made by the highest ranking administrator. They are made by the child’s IEP Team, the ARD Committee.

A recent case from Minnesota provides a great example of how things can go south when educators forget to use the OSFAA. The folks in Minnesota did take the matter to the IEP Team, and so they got the first part of the OSFAA correct, but they failed the rest of the test. I’ll tell you more about it tomorrow.


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Tomorrow: OSFAA Component Two