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Is your child starting the school year without a special education teacher or service provider?

What can you as a parent do?

As California faces a dire teacher shortage, the most impacted students are those receiving special education services. In our local area, it is estimated in one school district alone we are down eight special education service providers at the start of the school year. As the first day of school looms, parents, teachers, and administrators face stress to ensure that critical services are provided to our most vulnerable populations.

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What can you do in the short-term?

  • Request a copy of the job description to share with your networks. School districts typically post on Edjoin, Glassdoor, Indeed, and Craigslist. Note when the job was posted and if/when posts are removed to ensure timely sharing of information.
  • Clarify with the school district their policy regarding communication of service lapses with parents. Make it clear that the parent community would like hiring updates in a timely manner.
  • Track your child’s current service levels, as well as any missed service minutes on a week to week basis.
  • Communicate with the district that you will be interested in compensatory services once a qualified service provider has been identified. This can be in the form of minutes provided during summer and breaks, or doubling minutes during the school year.
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Concerns about long term impacts of missed services, or service lapses for extended periods of time?

  • Investigate private options that can provide services and supports.
  • Ensure that service providers have proper credentials to deliver services.
  • Send weekly updates to the administration regarding missed minutes and services to ensure that filling the position remains a priority.
  • Clarify who will be providing goal updates for progress reports and monitoring the current IEP goals.
  • Request an IEP (to be held within 30 days) to discuss creative options to support your child. Discuss concerns about regression and lack of access to their education. Analyze services and needs and how other team members can support the student’s goals in the absence of a provider (ex: The OT work on some of the PT skills to avoid regression in that area, a provider from another school steps in to support your child’s minutes).
  • Request reimbursement for private services provided during the lapse of service as a form of compensatory education. Send qualifications of service providers, proof of payment to the district. Request repayment on a monthly basis.
  • Know your parent rights, so if you are in disagreement with the team, you know the options and proper channels to assist with.
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Finally, advocate for and support pay raises and proper treatment, materials, training and support for special education teachers and staff. This issue of lack of recoupment is directly related to job burn out and in order to maintain high quality trained staff, we need to better support them in the school system.

Resources

Contact your local parent training institute for support.