Parent Volunteers are NOT a Substitute
for Trained Teachers
New DOE Regulations Released

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December 9, 2008

ISSN: 1538-3202

Issue: 465
Subscribers: 66,162

In This Issue:

*New IDEA Regulations Released by DOE

Parent Volunteers are NOT a Substitute for Trained Teachers

Write a Letter

Write a Formal Accommodation and Treatment Plan

You May Need to Request an Eligibility Meeting

More Helpful Resources

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Contact Info

Pete and Pam Wright
Wrightslaw & The Special Ed Advocate
P. O. Box 1008
Deltaville, VA 23043



Copyright 2008, Peter W. D. Wright and Pamela Darr Wright. All rights reserved. Please do NOT reprint or host on your web site without explicit permission.

We know that a positive parent-school relationship benefits all children.

Without a doubt, parent involvement is important and is a critical factor in your child's educational success. Parent (and grandparent) volunteers are a great resource in the classroom and have a positive impact on the educational process.

But, parent volunteers are NOT a substitute for trained teachers in the classroom.

In this issue of the Special Ed Advocate, Wrightslaw Research Editor Sue Whitney answers a parent's questions about volunteers in the classroom. Sue explains the need for formal accommodation and treatment plans for students with disabilities that are implemented by trained teachers and NOT parent volunteers.

Please don't hesitate to forward this issue to other families, friends, and colleagues.

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New IDEA Regulations Released by US Department of Education

On December 1, the Department of Education released new regulations for IDEA Part B that will take effect on December 31, 2008. Here's a brief summary of the major changes.

Parental Consent

If your child has been receiving special education services under IDEA and you wish to revoke consent for services:

• the revocation must be in writing, and
• the school is not required to amend your child’s education records to remove any reference to previously receiving services. §300.9(c)(3)

If parents revoke consent for services being provided to their child:

• the revocation must be in writing
• the school must provide you with written notice (under § 300.503) about their intentions for your child. This written notice may be one way of establishing just when the services should end.
• the school district may not utilize mediation or the due process procedures to challenge your revocation of consent;
• the school is not required to convene an IEP Team or develop an IEP; and
• the school will not be deemed in noncompliance with the IDEA for failure to provide a FAPE to an otherwise eligible child.

Representation by Non-Lawyer Advocates

The section on Hearing Rights has been amended to specify that non-lawyer advocates can represent either side (parent or school district) in a due process hearing unless this overrides state law. §300.512(a)(1)

Compliance Issues

A new monitoring and enforcement section is added, establishing a one-year time frame for school districts to fix any IDEA noncompliance issues. Corrective action must be completed one year from the time the problem was discovered. The current regulations have no specific timeline. §300.600(e)

A State now has 120 days, after submitting its annual performance report (APR) to DOE, to provide a report to the public on school performance. This doubles the current allowable time frame. §300.602(b)(1)(i)(A)

Clarifications were also made in the areas of state monitoring, technical assistance, and enforcement; and allocation of funds.

For the complete analysis of comments and changes to the final regulations see the Federal Register for December 1, 2008 at

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Parent Volunteers are NOT a Substitute for Trained Teachers

My daughter is in Kindergarten. She was adopted from China.

She has been diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Sensory Processing Disorder and has been under the care of a trauma therapist for two years.

She has a prescribed protocol for use in the classroom, but there are many parent volunteers in her class and they have refused to follow the protocol.

Should my daughter have a 504 plan or an IEP?

What should you do when parent volunteers will not follow your child's prescribed protocol?

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Write a Letter

The first thing you should do is write a letter to the principal.

  • State that you have been told on more than one occasion, by more than one classroom volunteer, that they do not intend to follow, and have not followed, the protocol that has been agreed upon for your daughter.
  • In the following paragraph request a meeting to discuss how the accommodations she needs and the protocols for treatment will be followed in the future.
  • In the next paragraph ask that a teacher be assigned to your daughter so that she is not taught by uncertified volunteers.

Be nice in your letter. But, do not settle for anything less than a real teacher who is trained to provide for your daughter’s needs.

Tip: Include in your letter some dates and times that you are available to meet.

If you need more help writing letters, read the 12 Rules for Writing GREAT Letters.

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Write a Formal Accommodation and Treatment Plan

If the previous protocols were really being followed, I doubt that untrained people would have been assigned to your child in the first place. You know now that you need a formal accommodation plan and treatment plan.

Write an Appropriate 504 Plan

While you are waiting for a response to your letter with a meeting date, you need to be writing an appropriate 504 plan.

Tip: The principal may want to rewrite the 504 plan in another format. Is so, make sure everything gets included in the re-written plan.

Base the Plan on Physicians Recommendations

Your daughter’s disorders are ones that are diagnosed and treated by physicians. This means that the recommendations will be coming to the school from physicians.

Consider Confidentiality and Non-employee Volunteers

There is no reason for untrained, non-employee community volunteers to have personal information about your daughter’s psychiatric diagnosis or disorders.

Written Plans Make Things Easier for Everyone

It is important to get everyone off to a good start in Kindergarten.

Find another Tip... a sample 504 plan, and more information in the complete text of Parent Volunteers are NOT a Substitute for Trained Teachers.

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You May Need to Request an Eligibility Meeting

Your child may be eligible for an Individualized Education Plan under Other Health Impaired in IDEA 2004. It is hard to tell without more information.  If she needs specialized instruction then you need to request an eligibility meeting instead.

Get More Helpful Resources...and a printer friendly copy of Parent Volunteers are NOT a Substitute for Trained Teachers

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