Special Education/Tardy


My son has multiple learning disabilities.  It's very difficult to get him to school on time because of sleep issues. I put him in at 9 but he stays up. The dr recommended natural remedies none of which worked.  My son is fine academically bc I tutor him not bc he's late but bc learning is poor there. But I'm wondering if tardy is ever written into iep.  When he goes in exhausted he has meltdowns and they ironically call me to get him!

Dear Jackie,

Thanks so much for writing to me and for using this service. Your son has learning disabilities and has a hard time sleeping.  He goes in late to school so that he can get enough rest.  If you force him to go on time, he can have meltdowns.  You would like to know if being tardy or adjusting the school day can be written into the IEP.  

The short answer is that appropriate accommodations should be provided for students with disabilities. Sleep is of course very important for success.

However, it is unlikely in my experience that the IEP team will put this into his IEP with just you asking for it. More specifically, a medical doctor would recommend this accommodation such an adjusted start time and the IEP team will have to consider that.  I am not sure how old your son is, but once he is in high school, if he misses one period or more a day, this may affect graduation planning because he will accumulate credits more slowly than his peers.  

A medical recommendation by a sleep specialist would be ideal.  Then, if the team says 'no', you will at least have documentation of his needs if you need to dispute the IEP team decision, such as through a mediation.  

Otherwise, it is my experience that:
Schools tell parents that the reason the child is not making progress is because he is consistently late. Or
The child fails the class.  OR
The school files a report to child protective services. OR
The school starts truancy procedures against the parent.

So I think this is an important issue.  If your child has other medical concerns that affect his sleeping and need for an adjusted schedule, I would advise you getting as many doctor recommendations as possible so that the team will take the request seriously and adjust your child's school day.  

I hope this answer has helped you and I again, thank you for writing! Please feel free to follow up with me, and I wish you all the best as you advocate for your exceptional child's education!

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Michelle R. Davis, M. Ed.


I can answer questions about disability definitions and criteria for services, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act 2004, No Child Left Behind, 504 plans, how to craft an IEP that drives the appropriate services, school placement, dispute options, and least restrictive environment. I worked in the public school system as a special educator and am now in private consulting practice where we assist parents as they navigate the special education process. I have expertise in all educational disabilities except blind/visual impairments and deaf/hard of hearing. This includes ADHD and other health impairments, medical conditions, dyslexia and learning disabilities, Autism, emotional disabilities, language processing problems, and interfering behaviors.


10 years as special educator and administrator in public school system; Director of ABCs for Life Success since 1998; Expert services such as analysis and testimony; Author: Special Needs Advocacy Resource Book: What you can do now to advocate for your exceptional child's education; Special Needs Advocacy Training Institute; internet radio show Teach Your Children Well: Hot Topics in Education; author School Success for Kids with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders released March 2010 (Prufrock Press).

Masters in Special Education with Emphasis on Inclusive Education (Johns Hopkins University); B.S.in Special Education (James Madison University); Conduct training for Universities, public and private schools, parent groups. Adjunct professor current George Washington University and prior George Mason University.

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