What should you do when your special needs child is bullied?

September 12, 2017


All too often, parents call me because their child with a disability is being bullied at school. Parents have told me terrible stories about how another student is calling their loved one degrading names or embarrassing their child on the internet or repeatedly teasing their child in front of classmates. Sometimes the alleged bullying is by a teacher or principal. Children should not have to suffer in an unsafe and disrespectful school environment.


One of the first things you should consider doing if your child is being bullied is report this problem to the school district and request an IEP meeting. At the IEP meeting, the team should consider whether your child's IEP needs to be changed because it is failing to provide your loved one with meaningful educational benefit. Bullying may result in the denial of a free appropriate public education (FAPE). The bullying your child is enduring may be denying him or her a FAPE. 


If your child does not already have an IEP, the bullying may have triggered the school district's obligation to assess your child to determine whether they need special education and related services. And you should request in writing that your child be assessed. 


The U.S. Department of Education advises that for children who already have IEPs, the IEP team should be careful when considering a change in the placement or the location of services the child receives because such a change may constitute a denial of FAPE. So, moving your child to another school might not be an appropriate solution to the problem.


For more information on effective evidence-based practices for preventing and addressing bullying, read the related article by the Department of Education. 


Martha Millar Law--A special education law firm



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