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.