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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?

    • This is sad, & unfortunate. Districts should have an internal complaint process. Even if the substitute made a report to the campus administrators, you can make a written report also. It seems like this could be considered bullying of you, & the substitute during & after the class.

  1. I work as a Para with high school Resource students placed in Regular Education Classes (Inclusion classes). The teacher for the class was not present and a substitute was standing in for the teacher. The students were left assignments to complete but claimed that they did not have any work to complete. The entire class I was attempting to assist and keep students on task by redirecting with no avail. I was cursed at, bombarded with other students chiming to keep the environment chaotic and stressful for the students that were attempting to work. I found out the following day that a student had videoed me redirecting another student, adding insult to injury. On top of the total disrespect I endured I feel utterly humiliated that someone videoed it and was showing it and sharing with

  2. I am being denied communication with my son’s 1:1 para. I want to be able to reach out to him for many reasons. He is with my son all day 5 days a week.

    If my son will be absent, late for school, missed the bus, I’m picking him up early etc. If I need to reach my son and can’t. Missing assignments, observed behavior issues, a heads up if my son was in a bad mood when he left for school and I could go on and on. Obviously anything more major than that would be communicated through teachers and administrators Texas…. Do you have any resources to look at and do I have a legal leg to stand on?

    • A number of courts have ruled that schools have the right to limit parent communications with school staff. You have concerns about being able to get information to staff that would help them in working with your child that day. I suggest trying to have discussions with administrators, or the IEP team about other ways to accomplish this objective. Be sure to document your efforts.

    • Hi Kristen, you need to think about possible answers to this question.

      Why do you think your communication is being limited? Who made the decision to limit contact? How available do paras (and teachers) need to be?

      You say you want to reach out to him “for many reasons.” We don’t know what your life is like. Are you lonely?

      • This response is unhelpful, unprofessional and rude. I’m surprised to Wrights Law responding to this issue in this way. Communication between a parent and the individual who is with their child all day seems pretty crucial to me, especially in situations where the child is non-verbal. I would expect a more thoughtful response from Wrights Law.

        • Hi! I’m a parent to a non verbal child and I am having the same issues with my son’s school! My son’s 1:1 and myself had a little book we’ll communicate about my son’s full day. Everyday was going so well! Until the higher ups found out and cut full communication with us! I find it so uneasy to I can not speak to the person who has my own flesh and blood all day everyday. I’m not giving up and neither should you!

        • I agree with you. What a rude and dismissive answer which, by the way, does not even qualify as such because your question has not been responded!

  3. My daughter has a paraprofessional she has been with her since 6th grade and there have been many issues with her firstly because she is a Spanish speaker and my daughter speaks English the para does speak some English but it is very hard to understand and my daughter has a language impairment as well. Each time a concern has come up I have brought it to the attention of the principal such as the para misspelling words on my daughters class work, slowly but surely they have removed all the so called supports she should be providing to my daughter like re reading things and helping her spell out words the school is constantly stating that the para doesn’t teach and I completely understand and agree but the supports my daughter needs are mostly in reading and writing and redirection.

    • Hi Lauren: You write: “the school says the para doesn’t teach and I completely understand and agree but the supports my daughter needs are mostly in reading and writing and redirection.”

      Your daughter has weaknesses in reading, writing and redirection. She doesn’t need “support.” She need instruction by a teacher who addresses her unique needs. This instruction needs to be delivered by a skilled teacher who knows how to teach children with weaknesses in these areas. Ensuring that your child gets this instruction (AKA teaching) is how you to improve the odds that your daughter won’t be functionally illiterate when she graduates from HS. She needs this specialized instruction sooner not later. By a teacher who is trained to teach kids to read and write. We have tons of articles and other help for parents of kids like your girl. The para is not a teacher – agree. You need to make yourself an expert in these areas.

  4. My son has had the same para for 1st and 2nd grade, and now in 3rd grade. But every year at the IEP meeting they tell me that if another student comes along who needs her more than my son does then they will reassign her. A new ASD child will be entering the district today and they are telling my sons para that she may be reassigned to another student. I am not sure how this works because my son is doing so great because she is an awesome para, so how is it fair if they disrupt his progress to attend to another child. What can I do about this? My son’s para is basically his best friend and he works so well with her. I am so worried he will regress and give the district a reason to suggest an alternative school education.

  5. What can I do legally if my daughter’s 1 on 1 aide does not show up for class, the district does not get a sub, and I was never notified of her para not being in class.

    • You could start by asking in writing to the principal and special ed director what their plan is when the aide is out. Depending on what they say, you can request in writing that a sub be obtained each time. If nothing changes, you may need to make a complaint to the state education agency or take this up the district’s chain of command.

  6. This is an interesting conversation. I am an SEA, it is a second career for me, and I have been doing it for 2 years. I have been surprised not to be introduced as a member of the team to the parents of the children I work with, sometimes so much more intensely and frequently than the special education teacher, primary teacher, and various therapists. I felt it was an indication of how the work SEA’s do is undervalued, and how SEAs are not always treated as team members….but I can now see from reading this thread that some SEA’s see it differently.

    • Generally this is difficult to do unless the principal agrees to do this. District’s should have a procedure for appealing decisions above the principal.

    • You can request this in writing, but the school does not have to do this. You can work with the IEP team about addressing your child’s needs that you feel are not being met.

    • Explore the larger issue. Instead of focusing on the paraprofessional, focus on the data, instructional needs of your child and the delivery process. That is the route I took when my child was placed in an “out of control” classroom. I took the focus off the teacher (who had enough of her own issues to deal with) and focused on my IEP goals, etc.I knew my child would not make “progress” in that classroom. I simply presented my request in “their” language. In other words, I learned to “walk the walk and talk the talk” as an astute advocate. I knew the school was tracking all IEP students and behavioral students by dumping them into a frazzled teacher’s instead of including those students in the general population. I “called” them out using advocacy skills and Wrightslaw.

  7. 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

    • Don’t lie for them by not saying anything. It is no different than “just following orders.” If they are not complying with the IEP or something bad is happening everyone needs to know. No one will be free from legal repercussions including the Para. Some of this is not simple commo it is risky for the Student.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

    • I personally work with a one on one and The childs parent can specifically request that the paraprofessional attend the IEP Meeting and ensure that it is at a time in which they can attend on the clock — request it be placed in the IEP the paraprofessional attend.

  11. 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

      • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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.

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