Aides: CAN STUDENTS SHARE A PARAPROFESSIONAL?

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Nikki:  When there are a group of identified students in a self contained classroom and each have an individual paraprofessional written into their IEP, are those students allowed to share a paraprofessional? Is the certified special education teacher allowed to work as one of the assigned paraprofessionals in addition to being the classroom teacher?

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Sharon L.

The IEP must say 1:1 for the para to get the one on one service. If it says “small group” then they are legal to have more students. I always make sure the services say 1:1. The special ed teacher should not take the place of a specific para but again it depends how clearly the IEP is spelled out. The schools are very good at putting things in the IEP that sound ok but have work arounds. You need to meet and clarify the IEP.

Jill G

Nikki –

If a student’s IEP clearly identifies that the student will have full time one-on-one support then, no, the paraprofessional should not be shared. On the other hand, if there is any ambiguity in the student’s IEP, the school might be able to get away with sharing the staff.

Using the teacher as a paraprofessional is a little murkier. A certified teacher can certainly work as an paraprofessional. And the classroom teacher can certainly help out with a student when his/her paraprofessional is taking a break. But serving as a paraprofessional while also serving as the classroom teacher probably wouldn’t be okay.

It’s reasonable to assume that some of the teacher’s core responsibilities can be done outside classroom time (creating curriculum, monitoring progress, etc.). But other core aspects – notably teaching students (which paraprofessional are not supposed to do) and supervising the paraprofessionals – would be pretty hard to do if the teacher was otherwise fully engaged.