Aides: PARENTS FORBIDDEN TO COMMUNICATE WITH PARAPROFESSIONAL

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Susan:  I frequently hear from parents that the school forbids them to have any direct communication with their child’s dedicated 1:1 paraprofessional. While I understand that it is the teacher who is responsible for the student and provides direction to the 1:1, and I could understand the school making it clear to the parent that the 1:1 is subordinate to the teacher and therefore cannot make decisions on her own, etc., it seems inappropriate to me that the school should have the right to forbid the parent from any direct communication with their child’s 1:1.

Since the 1:1 works more closely with the student than even the teacher does, it seems logical to me that the 1:1 ought to be considered a member of the IEP Team and should attend meetings along with the teacher. What does the law say about this?

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Jackie

Ive been a Para for 5 yrs. This will be the 5th school yr I have been with my student. I was just informed that the school has taken me off his case. He has made leaps and bounds since working with me. I too was told not to communicate with the parents. Over the years I let the parent and teacher do the talking. His senior yr was different due to the family moving out of district. He is minimal verbal but can not tell his parents about his day. I was taken off his case due to the new teachers personal issues towards me. It has nothing to do with the best interest of my student. Yet I am frustrated I can not inform his mother. She requested to have a different class but they said to wait a month. The parents have the right to be informed but the school won’t do it. Im so frustrated

Chris

We have had the same problem with our school for several years. Yes there are the things that only the teacher should communicate to the parent. However, an aide should be allowed to communicate with parents about simple things, especially with more complex kids. Since an aide is with the child throughout the day, they need to know and communicate all of the little things that a teacher may never see. Our more recent problem is that the school will not communicate to us that our son is having more seizures than normal during the school day. Their reason is that the number of seizures didn’t meet the criteria of the seizure action plan. Something like that an aide or teacher should be allowed to contact a parent because it is unusual, and ask the.parent should they be concerned or is new.

Mari

IHP stated specifically 2 communications (specifically text messages) per day regarding eating/drinking/toileting and IHP was attached and mentioned in the IEP as attached. Any comments and feedback would help.

Heidi

This is also an issue with our school. We are not permitted to speak with the paraprofessional and she is not permitted to be in my son’s IEP meeting. My understanding was that “others” can attend the IEP meeting at a parent’s invitation and since the para is with my son all day, through his various classroom/teacher/activity changes (he is mainstreamed and changes teachers for different subjects), it makes sense that she would be in the meeting, particularly since the teachers appear to take a hands-off approach to letting her deal with his behavioral concerns, despite the district’s assertion that the teacher is supposed to give her the behavioral plan and tell her how to implement it.

Advice would be appreciated.

Morning

I was a para for a few years. Some parents and even paras went too far in sharing information that would back fire. I was always directed to tell parents to talk with the teacher/ special ed. director, etc. I have been in a PPT as a para and was coached on what to say BEFORE the meeting. In my opinion, the parents should work with the teachers/ administrator. Paras wants to focus on the students not issues between parents and the school or questions. Paras do care but the job is to focus on the student and the parents and school district should work together. Susan, I am a parent of a child in special ed and I see both points.

celeste

my son’s teacher, while awesome has 18 students in her SDC.

Can you imagine? It is not easy and she is not present during lunch and feeding times when he needs his BI support the most.

Jessica

I do agree the paras should be able to sit in on the IEP meetings. Especially when the questions are for the professionals who spend the most time with the student. Questions related directly to their child’s daily behaviors, progress or lack there of during a lesson. Questions that only a para can answer, questions the IEP manager/spec ed teacher cannot, because they may only see the child for half an hour a day.
I’ve been a para going on four years now. I’ve never approached a parent and vice versa. I understand laws and regulations are in place for protection and liability against the school district. Even so that doesn’t lessen the fact parents want the whole truth, not politically correct truths with holes in the reports. My son has a para even without an IEP.

Alice

How did your son get a Para w/o an IEP? Sadly it’s so discouraging to hear that most para’s can’t communicate directly with a parent. You’re so right that we need the whole truth. I hate this school b.s. about being able to avoid accountability by dodging the truth. I don’t even want a para if I can’t communicate with them, have them involved in IEP meetings. Shoot, half of the people in the meetings these last 2 years have been useless to us needing information, surely a 1:1 would have more needed insight. We have had issues with the school allowing male aides to take my daughter to the bathroom and she is nonverbal and not potty trained, we wanted it in the IEP that it was to be only females and still they disobeyed the IEP and couldn’t give reasoning for it when it slipped.

Morning

Parents did approach paras in my district and some went “way to far” in their approach to the paras. But, I do understand. Some parents were frustrated and desperately wanted 1-1 chat with paras. Some would corner a “para” before/after school and we had a standard script to respond to such parents. It was a hard system to navigate. I was also trained in ABA data gathering. In one situation, I collected behavioral data on a student. The teacher changed that data to make it reflect a more compliant student when in fact the “real data” reflected otherwise. I found other work after that. The parent and teacher were also passive aggressive with each other with their own behaviors. The dysfunction of it all was eye opening and I learned how to better navigate for my own kids.

Alice

I only focus on issues about my child during IEP meetings, I don’t understand how it would not be important for the person that is with my child more than anyone, to not be involved in IEP meetings. As a parent I have a right to know what is happening with anyone who is involved with my child. I can actually see where a parent might say “too much” for the safety of his/her child but the para shouldn’t be able to say “too much”, like what dirty secret would they have regarding my child?! If they are worried a parent will take something in a bad way then they are doing something wrong whether a communication issue or worse. My child is non verbal at 5 years old, so it’s terrifying that a 1:1 aide would be unable to communicate directly with me.

celeste

I am also having this issue. I am now also forbidden from speaking the NPA behavioral supervisor.

Mari

Even after docs wrote letters stating that communication is a medical necessity, school administrators would not allow us to communicate with 1:1 school nurse regarding our child’s eating/drinking/toileting. We had to pull him out of school and file an ADA lawsuit.

Morning

I worked with a para whose student had extensive medical needs and she did toileting and feeding, etc. She was excellent. However, the parent communicated with the special ed teacher who worked CLOSELY with that para and supervised that para. The parent even had the teacher’s cell phone–not all teachers will give out cell phone numbers. The para wanted to focus on her job and responsibilities–not phone calls from a parent. But, the teacher took calls seemingly weekly from the parent to keep communication open with the parents. The parent needed questions answered and the teacher was always there to accommodate.

Bridget

I know this post is a little old but I wanted to add my perspective. I am a para and I work in an integrated classroom. I don’t go to IEP meetings because I am usually covering the classroom for the teacher at that time. The teachers take my input into the meeting. However if a parent wanted me there the school would provide a time for me to speak with the parents. In my experience if you complain loud enough, long enough, and high enough you will get what you want. Personally I agree with the sentiment that as a para it is too hard to take those calls from parents. We are expected to do many things in the day and adhere to a schedule. If we take an hour to speak to a parent the students will not get the attention they deserve and we don’t get paid after hours.

Mike

Mari – what section of ADA applies to this? We’re having the same issue