Dear Dawg: I try to stay in shape, but you know….it gets tough as the years go by. Motivation is tough. Hell—just getting up in the morning is tough. So when the principal asked me to be Billy’s one-to-one “biking aide” I thought this might be just what I needed. You see, I’m a teacher’s aide in the Rim of the World School District. We are located in the beautiful mountains of California and we pride ourselves on our Mountain Biking Team. This is a very competitive activity around here.
This year we had a kid named Billy who wanted to participate. Sweet kid—been here a few years and everyone loves him. Billy’s on the autism spectrum, and so everyone figured that being a part of the Mountain Biking Team would be good for him. Only problem was that Billy needs an aide to be with him all the time—including on extracurriculars.
So the principal asked me to serve as the “biking aide.” Sure, I thought! The scenery around here is spectacular, as is the weather. And how hard could it be, keeping up with Billy?
Well, it wasn’t so hard at first. But Billy applies himself to everything he does, and pretty soon, he was outpacing me. I just couldn’t make it up some of the mountains, and even on the flat parts, Billy left me so far behind that I lost sight of him. He got stronger. I got older. He got faster. I got fatter.
Now the parents are making a legal issue out of this. Can you believe that???? A LEGAL issue! They claim that the district is obligated to provide an aide “who can keep pace” with Billy. Dawg, this kid is a very good bike rider. I’m not sure we have anyone who can keep pace with him. Is this really something we have to do? TAKING MY TIRED BONES TO THE HOT TUB RIGHT NOW.
DEAR TAKING MY BONES: Funny you should ask. It turns out that your very school district was involved in a dispute just like that involving a student named Madison Meares. The parents alleged that the IEP had not been properly implemented, seeing as how the district had run out of aides capable of keeping up with Madison on the mountain bike.
The court ruled for the district, though. The court was not convinced that Madison’s IEP required an aide for extracurricular activities, but even if it did, the court held that the district provided aides who were adequately trained for the job. Moreover, the court made this observation:
The Court questions how far Plaintiffs’ logic might be extended; if Madison was the preeminent mountain biker in Southern California, would the District be required to somehow locate a biking aide to keep pace?
So go soak in the hot tub and don’t worry about this one. The case is Meares v. Rim of the World School District, decided by the District Court for the Central District of California on August 13, 2015. We found it at 66 IDELR 39.
DAWG BONE: TEACHER AIDES HAVE TO BE TRAINED, BUT THEY DON’T ALWAYS HAVE TO BE IN SHAPE.