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"How to Request a One-on-One Aide (Para) for Your Child"

One on one paraprofessional (aide) with student.  Educate and teach bipolar student.

There may come a time when a parent decides that they need to request a "one-on-one" aide or paraprofessional (para) for their child with a disability. When parents make this request of the school district, they are often met with confusing and frustrating responses. Even if the school district agrees with the request made by the parents, the parents may find themselves unsatisfied wtih the results.

Before making a request for a one-on-one aide, parents need to know specifically what they want, how to go about getting it, and the outcomes that they expect.

Parents need to be well-informed in order to ask specific questions of the school, answer questions the school may ask them, present their reasons for requesting a one-on-one aide, and be able to prove to the school how a one-on-one aide will benefit their child. In many cases, a one-on-one aide can be used as a supplemental aid and service to help ensure that a child is in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) of the general classroom.

As misunderstandings can commonly occur, it is very important that both parents and school personnel have a clear understanding about the child's need for a one-on-one aide. For this reason, and many others, a list of information that will be helpful to parents when requesting a one-on-one aide is provided below:

  • First and foremost, what exactly is a One-on-One Aide?  Parents need to clarify all of the settings their child will need a one-one-one aide in, as well as what areas they expect the aide to assist their child in.
    • Does your child need one specific individual assigned only to them to work with your child throughout the entire school day?
    • Would your child be as successful if different individuals were used either throughout the week or the day on a rotating basis?
    • Is the aide needed by the child at specific times or during specific classes? It is very important that your child's teacher knows the aide's assignment so that they do not "pull" the aide away to work with another child or group of children.
    • Does your child only require an aide to assist at transition times? If this is the case, the school district most likely will not hire a one-one-one aide for your child, but will instead use existing school staff to provide this service. However, the other duties of existing staff may interfere with the ability to provide timely transitions for your child. (NOTE: It is important that the child doesn't miss any class time waiting for the aide to arrive. The U.S. Department of Education deems it unacceptable to allow a child to leave class early or arrive late to the next class, even if this has been written into the IEP as an accommodation.)
  • What are the qualifications of the one-on-one aide?  Parents typically look for an aide that is highly qualified and skilled. Cost should not be seen as a deciding factor, but parents should be aware that schools incur significant expenses when they hire an aide. (NOTE: Parents should ensure that they request a "paraprofessional" as this term refers to a federal legal definition and quality standard, instead of an "aide", for which there is no federal legal definition or quality standard.)
    • The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) includes some new requirements regarding the education, training, and duties of paraprofessionals.
      • The term "aide" should no longer be used and is now replaced with the term "paraprofessional".
      • The paraprofessional must have completed at least 2 years of study at a higher education facility.
      • The paraprofessional must have obtained an associate's or higher degree.
      • The paraprofessional must meet a rigorous standard of quality and demonstrate through either a formal State or local academic assessment the following: (1) knowledge of, and the ability to assist in instructing, reading, writing, and mathematics; or (2) knowledge of, and the ability to assist in instructing, reading readiness, writing readiness, and mathematics readiness, as appropriate [20 U.S.C. §6319(c)].
    • Hiring decisions generally are not discussed under IDEA. Hearing officers usually will not consider a challenge to the qualifications of an aide unless it can be made clear that the aide must have certain and specific skills and knowledge in order for the child to receive a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).
    • An aide who will implement an Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA), and/or Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP), requires specific training and ongoing supervision. An aide who provides instructional support will need knowledge and skills in the methodologies that are used by the classroom teacher(s).
    • Parents should know that many school districts pay only the minimum wage during the school year, pay nothing during breaks, and provide no benefits. It is oftentimes difficult, if not impossible, to find a well-qualified individual to work under these conditions.
    • The success a parent achieves in obtaining a qualified aide will depend on how specifically the child's needs and the aide's role in addressing those needs are defined in the IEP.
  • What are some roles of the one-on-one aide?  Parents should never make assumptions of what roles a one-on-one aide can fulfill. If the child needs the support of a one-on-one aide in order to receive FAPE, the aide should be assigned to the child, no matter what the task. Schools can assign one-on-one aides to children for a variety of reasons, including, but not limited to:
    • Instructional support
    • Transitions
    • Behavior management
    • Activities of daily living (toileting, dressing, hygiene)
    • Task re-direction
    • Organization
    • Social skills training
    • Discreet trial training
  • How Can I Make a Case for a one-on-one aide?  School districts are only required to provide the services, program, or placement that the child needs in order to receive a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). The IEP is how the school delivers FAPE. The child's IEP must identify all of the special education, related services, and supplementary aids and services that the child needs to receive a FAPE.
    • The IEP team makes the decision to include a one-on-one aide in the child's IEP, which should be based upon the child's specific needs. The child's needs are identified by evaluations of the child. Evaluations include standardized tests and/or assessments, parent input, teacher input, and classroom observations.
    • Comprehensive evaluations are essential as they are the foundation upon which an IEP is developed. An evaluation must be thorough and comprehensive in order to ensure that the IEP will meet the child's unique needs. As an evaluation describes the child's needs, it will also define the services, program, and placement that the child will need.
    • As standardized assessments carry a lot of weight, parents should review these assessments carefully. Make sure you ask for clarification if you do not understand any part of the evaluation report. Remember that you cannot review an assessment adequately and carefully enough during an IEP meeting, so you should request any report(s) in advance of the meeting.
    • Parents can also obtain private assessments and/or evaluations if they believe those done by the school are inaccurate and/or insufficient. The school is required to "consider" any private evaluation provided by the parents. However, this does not mean that the school will accept the evaluation. Furthermore, if the school rejects any or all of the recommendations in a privately obtained evaluation, the school must state the reasons for this under federal law [20 U.S.C. §1415(c)].
    • Classroom observations in private evaluations are very important. Classroom observations can be performed either by the individual conducting the evaluation or by an educational consultant. At least one classroom observation is recommended along with a consultation with the classroom teacher. The more observations available, the more information there is to present and thus greater weight can be given to any recommendations that are a result of the evaluation.
    • A parent may also request an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) at the expense of the school district in cases where they do not agree with evaluations previously conducted by the school based on possible inadequacies and/or inaccuracies. When requesting an IEE, the school district must agree to your request, or ask for a Due Process Hearing to defend the accuracy of the assessment(s) conducted by the school.










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