If 2 Children are Entitled to a Complete Apple, You Need 2 Apples

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We’re not really talking about apples. We’re talking about how some schools use paraprofessionals in the classroom.  In the example below, using simple logic, you can see how many paras will be required.

Here’s the question.

I have 2 students in the same classroom and both of their IEP’s say that they should have a full time one-on-one para.  Is it legal to put one para in the class to serve both students at the same time?

Sue Whitney says the answer is simple logic. If each child is entitled to a complete apple, you need two apples.

One para cannot…… do two full time jobs at the same time. Her time card is not going to show 13 hours of work in a 6.5 hour day.

And I bet neither IEP says the child “should” have a full time one-on-one para.

It is more likely that the wording says the school district proposed providing it because the IEP team decided it was necessary in order to provide FAPE for that child. If that is the case, then it does not look like either IEP is being followed.

More Information and Resources about Paraprofessionals

What IDEA 2004 Says About Paraprofessionals at https://www.wrightslaw.com/heath/parapro.qual.htm

Why You Should Request a Paraprofessional, Not an Aide at https://www.wrightslaw.com/heath/parapro.aide.htm

How to Request a One-on-One Paraprofessional for Your Child at https://www.wrightslaw.com/info/relsvc.aide.steedman.htm

  1. I would think not. I believe there should be one para per student. You could not give them quality teaching if one teacher took on 2 students. The whole idea is to see progress in these students not confusion.

  2. This is hard. And, I have been a para in this situation. The parent should come and make observations in the classroom. For example, arrange to observe your child’s OT, Speech, etc. and ask questions. Go on field trips. When you see the other parents, get their phone numbers and meet with them. Tell them your concerns and advocate for each other. Paras, for the most part, will not risks their jobs by telling you information. One teacher told me to tell a parent the truth that I was actually taking care of several kids and not just a 1-1 for that parent’s child. I could not do that as the teacher was being sneaky and putting me in a compromising situation.The teacher, in frustration that his students were not being properly serviced, was willing to put me in a situation to lose my job to get 1-1s for his students.

  3. Starting with the 2011-2012 school year our district will have the intervention specialists at the high school working “double duty.” The way it was explained to me is that the intervention specialists will be scheduled to be in two classrooms at the same time. They will start out in one class and alternate back and forth between the two classrooms.
    I know that there are other kids in classes with my child who have similar services (scribing, extended time, daily class notes). Last year there was not enough class time for the intervention spec to help everyone. There is no way that one IS can provide services for all children in two classrooms.
    School district says it is not in the budget to hire more intervention specialists. We are the only parent complaining. What is the best way to approach the district?

  4. Dad2Luke: If the parents of kids in other classrooms get contact info for other parents, then parents of kids in the ASD classrooms should also get contact info for the other parents. To treat kids and parents differently because one classroom is for kids with ASD, and another classroom is for kids who do not have a disability is discrimination.

    Kids with disabilities have the same confidentiality rights as kids who are not disabled – no more, no less. If the school had a policy that did not provide any parents with contact info of other parents, that would probably pass muster.

    Sounds like you have a civil rights complaint under Section 504 and possibly the ADAA. If you decide to file a complaint, please consult with an attorney who has expertise in disability law so your complaint includes the necessary elements.

  5. My District put all the ASD kids into a few classrooms. The paras on the kids’ IEPs are now a shared resource, or simply removed because the presence of paras in the classroom makes individual paras unnecessary. But I have a recording of the head of special education saying that she will not guarantee the number of paras in the classroom because of fiscal concerns.

    Unfortunately, in the ASD classrooms (unlike other classrooms) the parents do NOT get a list of the other parents’ contact information so that it is not possible to get together and add up the para hours that should be provided under the IEPs and compare that to the number of paras in the room. We had a tense exchange when the District refused to give the name of our son’s 1:1 para.

    Q: How do you prove that this is going on since the other kids’ IEPs are confidential?

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