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Joy: My son is in an elementary moderate to severe special ed class in California. His teacher is amazing as well as the few para’s involved with students. The district continues to add more students (15). Is this legal? With all the paperwork and services to be provided to even just my son per his IEP how is it possible for a teacher to fullfill the requirements? There are 3 wheelchairs in the class and many disturbing behaviors. The students need help in eating, personal hygiene, and bathroom. Isn’t there a limit to class size for these severe children? It has become more of a “housing” rather than teaching atmosphere.

  1. This is an old post but wanted to update the RSP situation in California. We have a caseload of 38 (elementary) with 1 teacher and 1 aide. Average minutes per week is 280! And 4 students with 360 minutes per week. 4 students in RSP for severe behaviors.
    Does anyone know if there are any laws against this class size/teacher student ratio?

      • 38 (k-6) students spread out throughout the 6 hours school day. Average minutes per student is 300 with one student at 575 and another at 480! One grade level has 17 students in a session.

  2. Severe special ed teacher with 20 students and one para. Class is unsafe, student needs are not met and they learn nothing because every ounce of energy is spent keeping them safe and their diapers dry. School says they are within the legal limits and no one wants these jobs so they don’t have to hire more. Florida has no laws about class sizes for these kids and I’m afraid of retaliation if I seek legal advice or go above my administrations head. There are clear violations of FAPE happening and they will continue to get away with it…sad.

    • There is retaliation against special ed moderate to severe. Emotional outburst followed by violent , resist cause injury to the teacher and this is entered in the pr file without teacher approval review or union steward.

  3. These are old comments, but we just discovered that our district is going to 18 students in mod/sev 7th and 8th graders. Currently our Mod/Sev teacher has 4 students, one is physically aggressive and she has one aide. It is beginning to put students and teachers/staff in danger. Are they waiting for a lawsuit from a parent whose child is injured because there isn’t enough supervision to protect all students?

  4. i am a sped.ed teacher with about 15 students with severe disabilities i have 4 paras but the behaviors are so bad that security is constantly being call.

  5. Sp Ed teacher on So Ca. My classroom (moderate/severe) TK-2nd grade. 16 students 3 classroom aides. Is a problem not having a limit number of student per classroom and a limited ratio.

  6. I am an aide in a severe behavioral K-2 classroom. My question is about ratios and support. We have 8 students currently and were told today we’d be getting a new student tomorrow. We are supposed to be 2:1 (student:adult) and our teacher is included in our ratio. So, with 8 students there should be 4 adults in class. There are many days that an aide is out and there is no replacement sent in. Our teacher is out on disability so we’ve had a stream of substitutes. The classroom environment at this point makes it virtually impossible for us to work on any goal as each day is a “get through the day” kind of day.

    Is there a legal ratio in California for severe needs classrooms? We are at our wits end and are looking for hard facts to support our union complaint.

  7. I have been a grade general ed. teacher of an inclusion classroom in New Jersey for many years.

    The number of classified students in my room has increased each year. This year I have 9 classified students out of 21 total students. I have assistance for two periods each day with someone who is certified in special education.

    I looked through the Administrative and Special Ed. Code to see if the number of classified students in my room exceeds what the state allows but have been unsuccessful.

    I was told if the number of classified students was 10 or higher I’d be considered a 50/50 setting and the district would be required to place a certified special education teacher in the room with me full time.

    Is current classroom setting “legal”?

    • Do their IEP’s call for them to have direct sped instruction for every segment of the day? If not, then they are considered a general education student during that segment. (ex: student is SLD in Math but reading above grade level so he/she should not have a special education teacher for reading and should be considered general education for that segment).

      • Correction: they would not be general ed student. They would still be a Special Education student because of the IEP. They would just be what’s called, “mainstreamed.” But inclusive classrooms (I’ve written a research paper on this) are not inclusive classrooms if the Gen Ed and Sp Ed teachers are not working together in the classroom all the time, no matter how many students are in there.

  8. You ask if it’s legal to add more students to this class. You need to search your state law and regulations – that’s where you will find info about number of students in a class and other related matters.

    • I am a special education teacher in California. My understanding is that the only type of special ed caseload protection is for Resource Specialists (RSP) at 28 students. RSPs typically serve students placed in general education classrooms. Self contained classrooms called Special Day Classes (SDC) do not have protections as per the state. The teachers’ union may have contract language that protects class sizes.

      Our union contract protects SDCs (9-12 students). If special ed instruction comprises more than 50% of the student’s day, but the child is not in a Special Day ClassROOM, the district says they are RSP students (28 caseload). Minutes are not met because the child is thrown in a large group so the district can stretch the teacher to save $.

      • Hi Jeanine,

        I am trying to do some leg work for my sons class. I live in Northern California. My son is in an SDC, 14 students, mod-severe class, K-5 level, one teacher, and 2 aides (5.5 hrs/day although one aide comes late due to the fact that she drives the bus) and one behaviorist. Some of us parents, and the teacher have asked for more support from the Superintendent from the beginning of the school year with no success.
        In reading your response, it seems like we are stuck unless the teachers union has added protection into their negotiations? I will look more in to this but I wanted to make sure I am understanding your response. Thank you!! Also if you have any other suggestions I would appreciate it!

        • AS a 26 year sped. teacher teaching now teaching in southern california I have found no protections for class size.. I have, however, found a round about way for parents and teachers to protect the needs of their students. My IEP’s contain the following: Under the “Accomodations” – Student should be in a group of no more than 3 low need students (including Student ) to 1 adult at any time. Due to his disability and intensive needs this student has demonstrated need for a small classroom environment of no more than 8 additional students to make progress toward his educational goals. I add the same statement throughout the IEP – in present levels, in special factors, in justification of the least restrictive environment.

          • Barbara- I think that’s awesome that you’re able to write those statements in the IEP to protect the class size. Please share how you were able to get admin and the Sped department to approve it and commit to it.

          • Barbara,
            I and other sped teachers here in southern ca are cheering you on and would like to know how this accommodation is working regarding district support? Because we have so many students but no statutory support even though there’s is a special education task force that was supposed to address such issues.

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