IEP FAQs: Can We Write our Parapro’s Name in the IEP?

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We want to have Cate as a paraprofessional because she has done a great job with our son. The administration wants to change her for someone who has a bad reputation. Can we write Cate into the IEP? Does IDEA state anywhere that an individual can not be requested as a paraprofessional.

No, the law doesn’t say anything about a parent’s right to select a specific teacher or paraprofessional. Your child has a right to a teacher (or para), but does not have a right to the BEST teacher or para.

You need to be careful about how you approach this issue.

Much depends on your relations with other school personnel and the policies or customs in your school or school district. In many schools, if a parent requests a specific teacher or educational program, this guarantees that the school will not provide it.

The school doesn’t want to “cave in to demanding parents,” they don’t want to throw the floodgates open – there are many unspoken reasons that parents are never aware of.

Read Loving Parents Want What’s “Best” for Child – School Only Needs to Provide an “Appropriate Program”

  1. What if a 1:1 is demonstrating not to be qualified for their duties. How can I request a different paraprofessional?

    • I believe you can go to the agency they work for and discuss your concerns and request for a new Para.

    • I feel that the best way is to state, and document how the child’s needs, & goals are not being addressed appropriately, and request a review, and possibly a change of staff.

    • I am currently working as a para in a public school SPED program and I am also working on my teacher certification. We have very few paraprofessionals in our district and they are difficult to hire and retain due to the poor pay we receive ($20K a year compared to the $53K a teacher makes here). As a result, there may not be anyone else available as the paras are all assigned to specific areas. If one para is pulled to work with a particular student, that leaves a vacant space behind them that may not be able to be filled, etc.

  2. if a student is on an iep . does it have to state the child can have an aide all the time or 1/2 the time

  3. if a student in illinois has in the iep that he has a one on one paraprofessional can that para professionally legally be assigned to or help with other students with ieps in the classrooms who have one on one also in the iep or even just expected to help other students?

  4. My son would like a different paraprofessional to work with him. The one who is in his class now causes him to have triggers that lead to seizures. Does he have the right to request a different para? She is the one for his class, not a one on one.

    • Certainly, but the campus can choose not to make a change. It is hard to say, if it would be better to start with the principal or IEP team. It is doubtful that they would ok this without the principal present.

  5. Sandra, Unfortunately the school can deny your parapro in the IEP meeting however there is no law against meeting the parapro like regular education students parents can. Parents of students that are not on an IEP can set up meetings with the teachers & request the parapro be there. You may be able to get this accomplished to discuss things with her & the teacher.

  6. We desire to have the One-on-One parapro be present for the IEP. Our district Special Education Director says it is against district policy to have paras present at IEP. I feel strongly that I would like to meet the person who is caring for my child, and relay any concerns directly. Is it possible, and is there precedent, to have the district change it’s policy? Thank you

  7. Do I have a right as a parent to request a para professional for my son only. He is a flight risk and will not be able to do his work without the constant attention from a person sitting next to him. He can be impulsive. In his school now they share the para with 4 other kids.

  8. The student is entitled to a Free and Appropriate Public Education. It’s is the law. If the teacher has no knowledge or current training in the student’s disability then I would argue that they are not trained or qualified to teach that student. The parent has a right to ask for anything they want if it’s appropriate to that students needs and affords them a FAPE. This is what a good advocate does.
    If a paraprofessional is providing services, it should be in the IEP.
    The paraprofessional is not supposed to take the place of the intervention specialist if it states that the intervention specialist is supposed to be the one providing services. This is exactly why IEPs should follow the annotations and be as specific as possible. In addition, the various educational professionals should know their scope of practice.

  9. Jen, My son was on a 504 plan for ADHD and then we discovered that there is an IEP called OHI (other health impaired). WE went to the board office, got the paperwork required to have our doctor diagnose him and then we met with the school and developed and IEP. The laws the govern the IEP seem to be easier to deal with since they are more detailed. WE found that we could get very little on the 5o4 plan. When my son got on the OHI IEP we were able to get accommodations and modifications based on his diagnosis of ADHD. You would probably be able to do the same for the diagnoses you have with your son.

  10. Jen,

    I you haven’t already read From Emotion to Advocacy, I highly recommend it.

    I would never agree to a parent fighting the public school for their child’s education. You never hear of a fight where both participants win and a child’s education is a risky thing to put on the line.

    My wife and I purchased the book mentioned above as well as The Special Education Law book. We began learning how to advocate for our son when he was in middle school. He currently has a 3.87 GPA in college and is his own advocate these days.

    It is worthwhile to understand the difference between a 504 and an IEP and the book talks about the importance of SMART goals in an IEP.

  11. My 10-year-old will be starting 4th grade this year in a new, grade-level building. He has been placed in a gifted and talented classroom. He has been diagnosed as [severely/99.90%] ADHD, he also has diagnoses of OCD, anxiety, and Tourette’s Disorder. His doctor has recommended, among other things, that a parapro be provided for him while he is in class. When I spoke to his {new} principal about that, I was told, quite flippantly “Oh, we don’t have that ability (to provide a para for him).” I have worked in the district, for the record, and I can tell you that that is a load of crap. My question is: What is the obligation of the school in terms of making that happen? We will be filling out a 504B ((I think that’s the form) soon, and I need to know how to proceed if I need to “fight” for this for my son. Thanks!

  12. Lindy,

    As a former para, we were instructed to never have discussions with the parents out of confidentially. Some parents would turn any information around and use it against the school district. . If the teacher is communicating appropriately with the parent, then it eases a lot of stress and keep concerns in check. At the same time, parents just want to touch base to see if their child had a. “good day.”. I would follow the principal’s instructions only because the para is being put into a situation that may jeopardize her/his job.
    The bottom line is communicating with the teacher and insuring that your child is making progress and is happy. There is no secrecy. They just want to educate your child.

    • I do have a question for you! My son has an IEP they have 1 para for I believe 3 schools 2 for sure. He had been ineligible for basket ball because he is not getting the help his IEP requires. As a concerned parent what are my rights. I have had a sit down with his teachers/ head para/ principle. I have emails confirming he is not getting all the help he needs from the teachers. At this meeting they turned everything around and said it was him not doing his work, only doing half or getting bad scores from messing around. I’m not taking all the blame off my child but he does have an IEP for a reason and if they are not helping or he is not getting the help need like his IEP says what do i do? they are clearly not going to help me find a solution

      • Yvonne, I can only speak to my experiences as a para, parent, etc. You mentioned he is “messing around.” What does that mean? In middle school and high school, paras/staff can only do so much when the kids are “messing around” and not getting their work done. I used to have to call frustrated parents due to a child’s behaviors. I have seen kids ignore teachers and paras. Many young men become very adversarial towards paras or just any extra help in middle school and high school. They are embarrassed. They “mess around.” Your son needs support but what does that need to look like in order for him to succeed and what is he willing to do to insure that he can play sports. He needs to be a full participant in the process along with staff if he wants to play sports and make progress.

  13. Lindy – This happened to us as well. In fact they moved my son’s aide to another school. I don’t know why. The school must provide services that are listed on the IEP. If they don’t, you need to schedule a meeting. They have the right to choose the aide you get as long as the goals of the IEP are being met. I don’t like it either but it can work if you document everything. If the new aide is not meeting the IEP requirements you need to again get together with the team until things get better. You can request that the aide attend the meeting but the school does not have to honor that request. We found that if we keep asking for meetings, keep asking for evidence that the school is meeting the requirements they will usually start to comply rather than to keep going through all of this.

  14. I have a Son in Special Ed. After 2 very successful years, he quickly started to regress. I expressed my concerns to the new Principal. I asked to speak with his Para. We have a good relationship. I know she is willing to speak with me. The Principal has denied me any contact with her. I am only to speak to his new Special Educator. This is new. I’ve always had contact with his whole team. The Principal has also instructed the Para not to have contact with parents. I spoke with the Superintendent. He supported the Principal in this matter. Why all the secrecy? What should I do next?

    • I can tell you from experience, we have had paras say some crazy things to our parents. We too have the rule that the paras do not communicate with parents. It isn’t being secretive, it is about relaying accurate information. I have had paras tell parents that their child was terrible for the day, when in fact they did not. The para was at the receiving end of some behavior and took it personally.

  15. Can 1:1 aide mean more than one person providing the intensive instruction? This is the first school year I have the new school argue that 1:1 aide means they can assign as many people as they please during the day. I thought it was a different level of service when more people instruct your child during the day. So does 1:1 aide mean one person or can it mean more than one as long as my daughter is covered with one on one assistence?
    It is written as a special service that she be provided with a 1:1 aide for intensive instruction through out her school day. And the aide is to accompany on campus to her services and activities.

  16. I was a para for several years. Some of my comments may help. Good paras do not stay with the same student year to year. It is not good for the student or the para. In the best schools, paras get reassigned to students every year based on the needs of the students and the qualifications of the para. Personally, I would never want my name attached to a student just my skills which were highly trained but it does not do the para or the student any favors by a parent requesting that a para stay with the student. If a parent is very difficult, the administration my keep a para with the student. Be aware, the para may resent such. Even the best para needs a change. For the most part, you would want to work with the administration to ensure that your child has a qualified para not just the same para from year to year.

    • Agreed. I am the parent of an autistic adult who required a 1:1 para and I am now a resource room para. My district’s policy is for 1:1’s follow their student from pre-school through graduation from high school. I have seen repercussions from both sides…as an educator and as a parent. My opinion is that it is negative for the para and for the student. While it may be comforting to the parent to have the same para with their child, the offsetting negatives of dependence (on both sides at times), complacency on the part of the para, etc. far outweigh the positive experience of having a fresh face every year with new ideas and approaches and energy.

  17. My child has had the same para for 2 yrs. This year we got a new director and she denied me that para without explanation. When I pushed it, siting she brought unique qualifications in dealing with my individual child, the para was let go. Rather than do what is appropriate, they terminated her. They have the right to say you cannot have a specific staff member assigned, but to me, it also shows they do not care about my childs continued success. We are now homeschooling after fighting administration for 8 months.

  18. My son has had a great parapro for the most of last year and this year. His parapro was great with him she recently married and relocated. I know she gave at least a one months notice. The school is now going on 4 wks without a permanent replacement. They have been bringing in different subs daily and sometimes no one at all. They say they are working on the hiring process, but I suspect the foot dragging is intentional. How should I handle this issue without putting myself on the most despised parent list?

  19. Lea Ann,

    If the district has layoffs, they may not have a choice as to who gets their pink slips first. It may be determined by contract stipulations. And they cannot legally force anyone to work for them. If the aide is still working for the district, then it can be beneficial for the aide to continue to work with your child. It would be congenial for the school to contact you to inform you of the circumstances. If this went up the chain of command, it would likely be determined that the statement indicating a specific person was inappropriate and non-enforcable. You can, however, make a list of training appropriate and skills/traits needed to meet your child’s needs. If a change is necessary, this list can be used to work towards a good match for your child.

  20. I school wrote the name of my daughter’s paraprofessional 1:1 aide in the IEP. Are they obligated to keep that 1:1? The district has given her a layoff notice due to budget cuts. Are they required to call me back. My daughter is autistic & doesn’t do well with change.

  21. I could not get a straight answer from anyone regarding whether or not the principal could make unilateral decisions regarding who my daughter’s para would be, or how many she had. So I called the Dept. of Ed. and they told me that Yes, the principal does have the right to make those decisions on his own. She said she would hope that it would be a team decision based on the needs of the child, but ultimately it is the principals decision. And my experience is that it’s sad but true, if you suggest or request someone, more than likely that’s not who you will get. Administrators love to throw their weight around, especially to parents who really advocate for their child.

  22. I am also trying to “name” my son’s para in his IEP. I haven’t seen a definitive answer here yet. Is this possible? I am in the middle of due process – can the hearing office make a judgement as to who the para will be for my son?

  23. I’m a parent of a special needs child and I’m a para. Thank you for addressing these issues. There are so many issues on both sides that need to be addressed. Paras jobs are not always well defined for us and for the teachers we work with try to guide us in a mentoring way, at least they do in the program that I work in. My son recieves help from a para and it isn’t in his IEP and now we are looking to put it in writing. I look forward to reading and learning everything I can on this topic.

  24. At the end, do you have a right to ask for a teacher who match with your kid? and after reading the article, do you have or haven’t the right to put the name of the one-to-one in the iep?

    • i pick my kids teachers – soft spoken because of anxiety,stress,seizures,adhd,autism. We are waiting to see if we get a para 1 on 1 at today’s meeting. at the end of each year i write a letter to the principal what teachers i want for my children and why i feel they will benefit with them. i picked one that i had to switch my son out of because he was stressing so much he was in the office so much. i also filed a UCP against the district and school for discrimination because he has no time limit on tests and the principal said he doesnt qualify for the award its only for timed test. the district agreed with me.

  25. I agree do be very careful when discussing this, for instance with my son’s school in the past couple of year’s, if I were seen speaking to a teacher (regarding anything) by one of the office staff. A week or so later that certain Teacher would be transferred out of that school or terminated for reason’s unknown. So now I only speak with certain Teacher’s via email’s so they are able to keep their job’s, I had no idea until this was brought to my attention which I totally felt horrible about it .


    I know my daughter is not entitled to the BEST . She however is entitled an appropriate Education. Can I get a legal defintion of what appropriate is.
    My daughter is also being privately tutored by a langauge therapist trained in the Orton-gillingham program. I filed due process on our school, because they were not providing my daughter with FAPE. In our agreement they sent the special Ed teacher to a 4 day training in the Orton program. She is not trained properly, not to the orton specifications. The school hired my tutor to be the consultant. Is this not a conflict of interest and what do I do because the special ed teacher does not understand the program and was not trained for the more advance part of the program. My daughter’s tutor says the special ed teacher is doing more harm than good. What do I do about the conflict ?


    My child is developmentally delayed but has the capacity to copy others students behaviors both good and bad. In the current placement there is a student who screams and hits at the teacher and another student who self stimulates his privates in plain view. My child has now copied the screaming student’s screams right down to the pitch and rythym and also has begun copying the hitting. I fear the self stimulation of privates is next. What do I do now? Do I pull my child out?

  28. In regards to Paraprofessionals, can a school refuse to allow a student’s One-on-One Paraprofessional to attend his or her IEP so that said Paraprofessional would not be able to be named in a Lawsuit?

    This was a question I was asked and did not have an answer for. Thank you.

  29. One way I have found to address this type of issue is through the IEP. When your child has specific needs related to the type of assistance that works, describe those needs. Describe the types of attributes the aide must have. Describe the teaching modality needed. Get them in under present levels. Then, when the choice of personnel is made, you politely ask for the ways this person matches the descriptions in the IEP. You cannot dictate to the school who to assign, but you can describe how that person has to be.

    Also, be sure you put training down for the person who will be working with your child. Teachers and paras alike can benefit from training in specific disabilities and the best practices in teaching that population. Asking for the support your child’s teacher needs helps both the teacher and your child.

  30. My son’s IEP team did specify and document a highly qualified teacher who would provide home based services including the timeframe.

    Within a few days of this meeting, a unilateral decision was made by the Director of Special services to send out a person who was not highly qualified.

    This decision resulted in 0% academic progress for my son who had been and currently is an A student.

    When we brought this up, school staff was able to look surprised that we had issue but never addressed it.

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