How do you feel about 1:1 paraprofessionals?

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by annahills100, Apr 3, 2016.

  1. annahills100

    annahills100 Rookie

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    I'm not using my real name. I went to New York City public schools and was in special ed full time since kindergarten till 10th grade. My disability category was only "specific learning disability". The reason why they put me in special ed (according to my mom) because the school said it's easier to work with me in special ed. I didn't follow directions (they had to tell me 10 times before I opened a book), I was weak and they thought I would never be able to write (I did have handwriting problems). In 6th grade, they mistakenly put me in a class for children with multiple disabilities. All those children have medical issues and intellectual disabilities. My mom looked at my homework and saw it was the same stuff from 2nd grade. The school realized this mistake and put me in a special ed class for kids learning the general education curriculum. They also assigned a full time 1:1 paraprofessional, which I never had before. The reason for the para is unclear.

    In 10th grade I was finally put in general ed (after being segregated all my school life) but still had a para. I didn't want and need the para, but thinking I was in general ed for the 1st time. The end of my sophomore I asked my mom to remove the para (because I didn't need it). That summer I asked my mom EVERY DAY (literally every day) to remove the para. During the beginning of junior year my mom wrote a letter (per my request) asking them to remove the para. The school called my mom and asked if it was me or her who wanted the para removed. Unfortunately my mom answered honestly :( . I protested having a para by refusing to do work (thus failed a few classes). There were times were the para was absent and I had no sub. I did fine on my own. I was MUCH happier being independent and not having someone hovering me everywhere. I refused to talk to the para, ignoring her, but she kept talking to me. Another time I thought my para was absent :), but then she came to my 3rd period class asking if I came to my previous classes. I ignored her. A teacher once said if I didn't want a para, I had to prove I didn't need it. During my senior year (I was 18) the principal observed my computer class (it was English class but we went to the computer room 2x a week to do a reading program online). The reading program was so easy for me that when I was done I'd look up other stuff on the computer. You know the drill, "behave when someone is observing" so I only did that program. The principal asked why my para wasn't sitting next to me. So my para started sitting next to me. I was clearly doing fine on my own. I should be sitting next to my friends, not an adult (autistic kids already have trouble with social interaction, a para sitting next to them will worsen things, I'm not autistic though, just worth pointing out). I proved I didn't need a para. During my senior year, (I was 18 and school was almost over) my last class teacher was absent, so everyone went home because it was the last class. I too went home while my para went to the bathroom. Then the next day my friends asked me “where were you? Ms. ZZZ was looking for you.” Then my para told me I was supposed to wait for her to come back to tell her I was leaving, because she is responsible for me and will be in trouble if something happened to me. So all my friends just got to leave and I had to tell my "babysitter".

    Why did they keep the para when I didn't need it? During my IEP meeting (end of sophomore year) my mom mentioned I wanted the para removed. One of the IEP members said VERBATIM "the para is there to protect her in case she says something inappropriate". That never happened. But what kind of logic is that? This is HIGH SCHOOL. Kids say inappropriate things all the time. I could have removed the para when I turned 18, but I thought the school would disregard my request, and still think they would have. When I started 11th grade I called the DOE asking what can I do about this. It was the typical "I'll transfer you to this number" until I got to my final destination, where they asked for my information and then asked if I wanted them to tell the school I said no, because the school would probably retaliate against me. they were no help at all. Fortunately I graduated during the summer on time.

    1. Paraprofessionals should only be assigned when other alternatives are not feasible (i.e.. meeting with the guidance counselor once a week, environmental changes).
    2. The IEP should state SPECIFICALLY when the para will work with the student.
    3. The IEP should state what the student should do to reduce or eliminate para, and when the student will be reevaluated for a para (if less than YEARLY).
    4. It should be SCHOOL POLICY for paras to back off when needed. Paras should be trained to back off when needed.
    5. look for signs if paraprofessional support is causing problems for the student.
    6. Students should not receive a full time paraprofessional unless they have a significant disability that limits independence.
    7. Student should be reevaluated YEARLY to make sure they still need the para. If under 3rd grade, it can be every 2 years. If a student has a significant disability, it can be every 2 years with permission from the CSE.
    8. Paraprofessionals are not babysitters. Their function is to provide support for the student. Thus, a para should NOT be responsible if anything happens to the student, unless the student needs that type of support for safety reasons, which should be written into the IEP. In 9th grade, my para left my class to watch another girl because her para (Ms. X) had to do something else. I went to middle school with this girl and she didn't have a para there, and did fine. Why did she need someone watching her all the time? Later years Ms. X got assigned to a different student. Ms. X (I had class with her student during junior year) asked me if I know where her student is. That is embarrassing to her student. I didn't answer. The student was high functioning and capable of being on his own. 2 other classmates (senior year) had full time paras which they clearly did not need. They were high school seniors in general ed.

    Why is this type of babysitting allowed? There is a fine line between support and babysitting. I believe the school kept my para because they get some kind of funding. I'm not sure about the other kids.
    9. Don't assign a para because of stereotypes related to a disability (i.e. assigning a para to a general ed student with down syndrome even though the student doesn't need it).
    10. Don't keep a para because it gets funding.
    11. Lastly, involve the students in determining supports. If a student communicates (verbally or through body language) they don't want para support, then the support is excessive.


    Please, follow these guidelines.
     
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  3. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    Apr 3, 2016

    I'm not sure I understand why you were assigned a 1:1 para in the first place. In my district, it is extremely difficult to get these types of assignments approved.
     
  4. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Yep.

    Furthermore, I don't think that the school gets any sort of additional funding for the para. As far as I know, there's no perk whatsoever for the school when it comes to requiring a student to have a para. In my experience, paras are assigned only in situations where the student would be unsafe without direct 1:1 monitoring at all times or when the student has very high needs. If schools received kickbacks for assigning paras, everyone would have one.

    I'm wondering if you don't have all the information about your situation.
     
  5. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    I was going to say what both of the previous posters said. It costs a significant amount of money out of the district's pocket to get 1:1 paras. There is no additional money given from the state for a student that needs a para, which means the school is spending somewhere between $15,000-$20,000 per year on one student. My district pretty much never allows us to have them for this reason- they make us pull other school staff from whatever jobs they're supposed to be doing to support the high needs student 1:1 while we jump through the necessary hoops to get the student in a self-contained program. I can't imagine a scenario where a district would be shelling out all of this money if it wasn't absolutely necessary.
     
  6. GemStone

    GemStone Habitué

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    In our district, salary starts at 17,000 and benefits can easily be another 1,000 per month. There must have been other needs presented by the OP. For example, OP, did you require a scribe or assistance with behavior? Verbatim reading, chunked material, or curriculum/ work modifications? You were moved from a special ed setting to general ed, and your required accommodations may have been too much for a classroom teacher to provide all by herself. Additionally, transitioning to a regular general education setting in 10th grade is a big move, and the school may have put a para with you to see you be successful.
     
  7. renard

    renard Companion

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    I could dissect some things here forever, buy I'll just say that you aren't qualified to determine what supports your classmates did or didn't need. h

    Clearly, you're upset about having been in that stream. By your own admission, you've had significant issues with simple tasks (opening a book) and behavioral (failing classes in "protest"). I am wondering if you have NVLD, because your description sure explains why your mother and school admin would take the time investing so much resources into it.
     
  8. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I'm sorry for your perceived bad experience- I'm sure the school flt they were doing the right thing for you. There are a few one-on-one paras currently on my grade level. Like others have said-this is not an easily awarded placement, but the students who have one-on-ones wouldn't function in the gen Ed classroom without that level of support.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2016
  9. annahills100

    annahills100 Rookie

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    That's not the case in NYC. Why does a 12 grader with NVLD need a FULL TIME para? That is ridiculous. Plus, I was not violent. None of my classmates that had full time paras were violent. This is ridiculous. It was in pre k when I had trouble following directions (they had to tell me 10 times to open the book before I opened a book) and this is according to my mom. This was not high school, or middle school for that matter. My mom didn't really care what services I was receiving. She apologized and realized she should have advocated for me more. And how could they feel they we're doing the right thing. During my annual IEP meeting (end of 10th grade), an IEP member said *VERBATIM* "the para is there to protect her in case she says something inappropriate". That is NOT a reason to keep a para. That is NOT successful. And why was I segregated for such a long time?
     
  10. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    We don't have answers for what happended to you as a child and student, annahills. I'm not sure why you felt the need to dictate in enumerated fashion the guidelines we should be following and then argue when we respond that your experience isn't typical ....your situation seems foreign to most of our experience as professionals. Good luck to you.
     
  11. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Apr 3, 2016

    .
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2016
  12. annahills100

    annahills100 Rookie

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    I never had a para until 6th grade. And me not following directions happened in pre K.
     
  13. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    I deleted my comments. I didn't read your follow up and replied based on incomplete information from your first post.

    Apparently, the school felt it was in your best interest and their best interest to keep the para.
     
  14. bros

    bros Phenom

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    After graduation, did you receive your full file? After I graduated, I received my complete special education file and read through it. It was.... interesting.

    I was very tempted to file a suit for educational malpractice for a while there.
     
  15. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

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    In my school it's not up to the teacher for a student to get a 1:1 aide. The only thing a teacher can do is request a review of the situation. Your guidelines wouldn't really be valid in my school.
     
  16. renard

    renard Companion

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    There are a number of reasons why a student in this position may have required 1:1 support. Part of NVLD is that many people with it simply don't understand how difficult/socially disruptive or offensive their behaviour is (unsure if that is your diagnosis or if you are just mentioning it).

    Your answers are with your student files and former educators, not us. I think money used for a 1:1 para could be much better spent elsewhere, rather than on someone who doesn't need it. However, from our experience, students with behavioural problems requiring a 1:1 para are so absorbed in their own world that they don't realize or care that they are disruptive to others. Sometimes, that's a nature of the disability, sometimes it's not. Maybe you could benefit from counseling at this point, as you no longer will have this "help" anymore and need to live in the real world where you are expected to work independently.
     
  17. annahills100

    annahills100 Rookie

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    I was never disruptive or offensive. I had a classmate in one of my classes who would get suspended at least once a week, and constantly sexually harassed girls. He never had a para, or an IEP, despite how very disruptive he was to our class. I know I'm qualified to determine what others need. I don't understand why the school would waste a para on me when I was capable of being in general ed without one. And to be honest, "to protect her in case she says something inappropriate" is not a legitimate reason to keep a para. Even if I did have issues (as MANY teens do), that alone is not a reason to keep a para. I'd have to require direct 1:1 support, which I didn't.
     
  18. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Look, none of us here made or participated in the decision to give you a 1:1 para. Take a look at your school file or call up the special ed director and ask questions of that person if you need answers specific to your situation.
     
    MLB711, czacza and teacherintexas like this.
  19. bros

    bros Phenom

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    This. When I looked in my file, I saw the reasoning why they stopped my OT - which was... enlightening (They didn't want to have to hire another OT).
     
  20. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    You are on your own now. I encourage you to ask these questions of the appropriate school professionals if you feel like you need this closure, otherwise let it be. Go forward to a strong and independent future. No sense in dwelling on the past. Good luck!
     
  21. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    1) A lot of the questions you are raising can only be answered by the IEP team
    2) Keep in mind that your perspective is very different from the school perspective, and both you and the school have a different perspective from your mom. As a quick example here... you see failing a class as being proof that you need to get rid of the para. The school sees it as proof that you probably need a more restrictive environment.
    3) No district, anywhere, is going to give a student a 1-on-1 para unless they think there is a very good reason for it. If you actually had a 1-on-1 para (and not, for example, a requirement of special ed support for 2 hours a day which happened to be delivered by a para, who may have seemed to you like a 1-on-1 because you were the only SPED student in the room, or the student with the most severe behavior/learning difficulties), the school thought it was the best thing for you.
    4) A lot of this sounds like there are misunderstandings between your mom and the school, and you and the school. For example, you were "mistakenly" put in a classroom for students with multiple disabilities. I find that nearly impossible to believe. What I find to be far more likely is that the school thought you needed an environment that restrictive based on what they saw from you, but then once you got in the classroom, it turned out you weren't a good fit. Maybe you were getting overserviced, but maybe you grew a lot over the summer, or showed a lot of growth quickly, I don't know. What I DO know are that those types of classrooms are extremely expensive to run, and no SPED department would put a student in a classroom like that by accident.

    This isn't in any way meant to be an attack (although I acknowledge it probably sounds like one). It's just meant to express the fact that you're asking questions that only specific school officials can answer.
     
  22. crazycatlady80

    crazycatlady80 Rookie

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    As someone that was a special education student myself, I know these experiences can be quite traumatic. In my own personal experience, being in sped child was a "damned if I do damned if I don't" situation. I needed the extra support to do well in school, but it also came with a high price emotionally. It is one of the reasons why I'm going into the field.

    I think what everyone is trying to say is that we don't know why you were assigned a 1:1 aide. You need to review your own files. Guidelines pertaining to 1:1 aides vary from district to district here in CA. I worked as a 1:1 in a district that assigns them all the time, because it is fully inclusive. On the other had, I also worked in a district that rarely assigns them. Regardless of the district, the guidelines are always extremely clear. Usually lots of observations hours are involved. They just don't assign you an aide because they feel like it. They have to have a lot of evidence to support this conclusion.

    From a professional standpoint, I'm not going to say 1:1 aides are bad. Some kids absolutely need them, especially if they are ED (emotional disturbance). That being said, I don't think they should be assigned to everyone, like what happened in the district that was fully inclusive.
     

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