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Why 1:1 para isn't allowed to provide "instructional" supports? Doesn't make sense. Help!


Ally

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My third grade child in PA has a 1:1 for academic supports but school is saying that anything instructional isn't allowed for 1:1 to provide because that's the teachers/therapists role. Where can I find information to counter their argument. They won't even let the 1:1 chunk down instructions. My child can't follow multi-steps instructions and if 1:1 can't provide it when GenEd teacher is giving instructions throughout the class, how would she process information? Chunk down instructions is in the SDI but the 1:1 needs to be allowed to do it throughout the day. Is there a kind/title for the paraprofessional that I could request for that exist in PA in which that type of 1:1 could provide instructional supports? They said only prompting and redirecting. Performing the first math problem (model/demo) to support task initiation has also been denied even though that 1:1 is in math class with all the students. I've read the paraprofessionals blog but wondering if that applies to my child's situation. That is, if I can request for a SpEd para in PA or that all paras should be able to provide instructional assistance.

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Let me preface this with I am NOT in PA, and I know many people on this site are, so hopefully they will chime in with any relevant PA specifics.

In general, paraprofessional can absolutely provide academic supports, which includes instructional support (with some exceptions, maybe, for specialized instruction which requires training, such as reading instruction in Orton-Gillingham).  The supports you have indicated in your post seem to be very reasonable accommodations that a para can provide.  I believe school districts do have the right to designate which staff members will provide which accommodations, but if the person they designate (are they saying the gen ed teacher should be doing this?) is unable to do so or unable to do so in a timely manner in order for the accommodation to be effective, that might be a better argument.  (Stated, of course, in a way that does not criticize the gen ed teacher in any way - it is often the case that gen ed teachers simply don't have the time to make sure all accommodations in all IEP's are addressed.  Which is one of the very reasons for a 1:1!)

I would ask for an IEP meeting to discuss the practical implications of what they are implementing - your child is not getting chunking and modeling in a way (or at all?) to allow her to process information and participate in the gen ed classroom with her peers (depending on how confrontation you want to get, you could throw in words like "denial of FAPE" and "discrimination based on disability" and "failure to follow the IEP document/accommodations").  Instead of taking on the burden of proof yourself for why a para can do these thing, turn it back on the team and ask "why can't she?  Where does it say this in federal or state law/guidelines?"  But I agree that it would be helpful to come armed with something specific from PA, so hopefully others will respond to this post.

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I am in PA & familiar with some of this.  A para can provide instruction but the teacher has to 1st instruct the para and then the para instructs the student.  Right now, paras are in short supply and might not have the skill set to provide instruction.  It really depends on the job description of the para.  PA has wrap around/IBHS services.  The RBTs that do this are only trained to redirect behavior and cannot do anything academic other than tell a student they need book X and page Y.

I think you need to rewrite the job description of the para in the IEP.  You need someone who can, in the moment, chunk an assignment or provide instructional support.  Your district might call this a teaching assistant or Paraprofessional/Instructional Assistant.  Then you'll need to hope they can staff this for your child.

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Thank you for confirming that 1:1 para CAN provide chunked out teacher's instructions and instructional supports (part of academic supports). I was surprised when the case manager with many years of experience and the principal and school team stuck to the point that 1:1 are not allowed to and should not be expected to provide anything instructional in terms of supports. I'll put the burden on them. 

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4 hours ago, Ally said:

Thank you for confirming that 1:1 para CAN provide chunked out teacher's instructions and instructional supports (part of academic supports). I was surprised when the case manager with many years of experience and the principal and school team stuck to the point that 1:1 are not allowed to and should not be expected to provide anything instructional in terms of supports. I'll put the burden on them. 

It's really about how the district writes the job description.  It is possible that in your district, they can't per the job description.  I was told if a district doesn't have something a sp ed student needs, they need to create it.  (Maybe the IU has a para with this sort of training/job description.)

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You can always put the onus or burden of proof on them. Ask them, "Hey, I've looked for this information online and cannot find it. Can you show me where it says that a para cannot do this?"

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