The school assigned a male parapro to my daughter with mild mental disabilities. I’m concerned about her safety and modesty. We are not comfortable with this.
What can we do to ensure appropriate behavior when a male is assisting her, versus a female?
It is hard to imagine a “reasonable” adult male who would be qualified or would want to provide for a 15-year-old’s needs, including feminine hygiene.
You want the school to help you teach her to live independently as an adult. It will take a team effort between parents and school to accomplish this.
Indiana Advocate Pat Howey suggests, “Sometimes when schools offer improper services, parents can help by suggesting goals and objectives/benchmarks.”
IDEA 2004 does not require short term objectives or benchmarks, but it may be appropriate for parents to ask the school to put these objectives into practice through the IEP.
The school does not have to put the parents’ suggested goals and objectives into the IEP. However, notes and papers from the meeting will show that the parents had practical requests to help their child learn to live safely and independently as an adult.
As teachers read the parents’ clear, sensible goals and objectives, it is possible that a teacher or other school staff member will “see the light.” Perhaps a teacher will support the parents’ desire to prepare this teenager for adult life.
Read Pat’s article on Male Aides for Female Students.
You will see how creating sensible goals, objectives, and benchmarks in the IEP can help the parent-school team focus on specific concerns and address practical issues, including modesty and safety.
Can the parent require an aide of a particular gender?
In a California case, the sole issue was whether a male one-to-one aide was necessary in order for the male 8th-grade student with Asperger’s and Tourette’s to receive FAPE.
The student’s IEP required that he receive one-to-one aide support for the entire school day. The parents were concerned that the student would not be able to utilize the female aide assigned to him in the boys’ locker room (leaving him vulnerable to harassment and perhaps not receiving prompts to lock up his clothes).
The Hearing Officer further found no evidence that a female aide was more socially inhibiting than a male aide, but determined that it would be better if the school assigned someone else.
Nevertheless, the school was not required by FAPE to assign a different aide as the services were appropriate. Dublin Unified School District, 37 IDELR 22 (SEA CA 2002).
From: IDEA FAQ: 1-1 Aides, Nurses & Parent-Contracted Service Providers at School. ©2009, RICHARDS LINDSAY & MARTIN, L.L.P. All Rights Reserved. Tri-State Conference Fall 2009. Page 7