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 Ask the Attorney with John Brower, J.D.
QUESTION: My child is in the 8th grade and is and spends his day in a special education classroom with a full time "one-on-one aide ever since he was found eligible for special education services. Recently the school hired a new Director of Pupil Services who has stated that the schoolís goal is to eliminate "one-on-one" aides and use one or more classroom aides. My child has some pretty big health issues. Can they take away his "one on one" aide?
ANSWER: The short answer is "yes", but the "they" must be the studentís IEP Team of which you are a member.
There are two types of paraprofessionals (or aides) that can be provided to a disabled student. One if the "classroom" aide that assists the classroom teacher and provides services to one or more students. The other is a "one-on-one" aide that assists only one student (on occasion I have seen 2:1 aides where the aide is included in the IEP but is shared between two students).
One-to-one aides are provided via a studentís Individualized Education Plan (IEP). As such, a "one-to-one" aide can only be removed by an IEP Team decision. A blanket administrative decision to eliminate all "one-to-one" aides, if carried out, would subject the school to a claim of non-individualized decisions made outside the IEP Team setting and possible class action for discrimination. As with any IEP Team decision, a parent can challenge the removal via mediation and/or a due process hearing.
That being said, given the budget stress that many schools are under due to decreased state funding and the federal governments failure to fully fund IDEA, in my practice I have seen an significant increase in the number of school districts that are directing their IEP Team members to eliminate the "one-on-one" aides when the studentís IEP comes up for annual review. In some cases to avoid a hearing, they will tell the parent that will continue the aide but it will now be a "classroom aide". However, when reference to a classroom aide is not included in the studentís IEP the school can assign multiple students to the aide, and more significantly, remove the aide without risk of a claim from the parent that the IEP is not being properly implemented.
At the same time, I advise my clients that they should act proactively if their childís aide is being challenged. They can do this by assembling the aideís logbooks that detail the tasks being performed by the aide and gathering statements that support the need for a "one-on-one" aide. Such statements should come from those most familiar with the child, including medical professionals, the aide, etc. Sometimes I have found that the classroom teacher is the best advocate for a full time "one-to-one" aide as it allows them to focus their attention on teaching.
John Brower, JD
Education Law Center, PLLC

Education Law Center, PLLC ∑ 810-227-9850 ∑ 

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