Last year the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) issued a letter addressing some of the issues that arise when schools serve students with disabilities who are also English language learners. Does the IEP Team have to include someone with expertise in that area? The response is pretty general:
To ensure that appropriate IEPs are developed for English learners with disabilities, including English learners with the most significant cognitive disabilities, the IEP Team should include participants who have the requisite knowledge or special expertise regarding the student’s language needs. Letter to Boals, 80 IDELR 24 (OSEP 2021).
Well….of course it should. But OSEP can only address this issue based on federal law, which is not very specific about it. Here in Texas, however, we have a lot more experience than most states in serving students whose native language is not English. Therefore, we have specific guidance.
Texas requires LPAC representation on the ARD Committee. The regulation is at 19 T.A.C. 89.1050(c)(1)(J):
ARD Committees must include the following:
(J) a professional staff member who is on the language proficiency assessment committee who may be a member of the committee described in subparagraphs (B) and (C) of this paragraph, if the student is identified as an English language learner. (Note: the new terminology is Emergent Bilingual Student).
Subparagraphs (B) and (C) refer to the two teachers who must be members of the ARD—one from special ed and one from general ed. So if one of the student’s teachers is also a member of the LPAC they can serve in a dual role at the ARD. What about the administrator? Can the assistant principal wear two hats at the ARD meeting, serving as both the “representative of the public agency” and the LPAC rep?
No. This is addressed in FAQ #B-5 in “FAQs—LPAC and Emergent Bilingual Students:
Can the administrator in an ARD committee meeting for an EB student who also receives special education services perform the role of the ARD committee administrator and the role of the LPAC representative simultaneously?
Actually, the answer then explains why it says “no” but I already explained that here, so I won’t repeat it. However, I do think the final part of the answer to FAQ B-5 is helpful:
Typically, the best representative of the needs of the EB student in the ARD is the bilingual or ESL educator from the LPAC that directly instructs the student and has detailed knowledge of the student’s linguistic needs and strengths.
If we don’t staff the ARD meeting properly we are running the risk of a complaint that we failed to comply with IDEA’s procedures. More importantly, we might fail to address an important student need. So let’s be sure we have LPAC representation at the ARD Committee meeting.
DAWG BONE: EDUCATORS HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO SERVE ON MANY, MANY COMMITTEES! PAD YOUR RESUME!
Got a question or comment for the Dawg? Let me hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tomorrow: a significant date…