In Tips
Rochelle’s Special Education Tips

Sorry is a Sorry Word

If you play doubles tennis, you have probably noticed that most women say “sorry” to their partner when they miss a ball or double fault. The men rarely say “sorry.” The reasons for this difference between the sexes may be blamed on the Barbie doll or our society’s preference for dressing baby girls in pink. Since when have you seen a baby boy dressed in pink or a baby girl dressed in blue? But this is too deep of a question and much too controversial to analyze in Tips. Instead, let us concentrate on the impact of constantly saying “I’m sorry” when a parent or advocate disagrees with you.

When you say “sorry” when you have done nothing wrong, you are sending the message that you made a mistake. In some cases, it encourages the recipient of your unintended apology believe you are incompetent or a pushover. Stop doing that. If you have made a mistake warranting IEP jail, such as missing your 5-day deadline or missing the annual review date, then saying “sorry” is most appropriate. In those cases, you should be on the floor, pleading for mercy. But when you are speaking and are interrupted, do not say “sorry.” When the parent asks you to put her version of Gone With The Wind in the parental input section of the IEP and you have instead summarized it, do not say “sorry.” After all, in the Present Levels section you do not write, verbatim, an entire assessment report. You summarize the pertinent information. When you are told to write a specific methodology into the IEP, and instead you describe the essential components of what the student needs, do not say “sorry.”

Be clear when you disagree and write your disagreement in the PWN, as appropriate.

Rochelle’s Special Education Tips (“Tips”) are designed to be helpful and thought provoking, but should not be considered legal advice as they may not be accurate for use in all situations. Tips are based on my opinions and positions in accordance with federal and Maryland law and my over 35 years of experience in the special education legal field. – Rochelle S. Eisenberg, Esquire

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