Word on the street is that school districts are struggling to have enough staff on hand to keep going. We are short on teachers, aides, and bus drivers. This is going to present some legal problems. Consider the possibility that a brand new substitute teacher deals with a student in a way that is in conflict with the student’s BIP.
It’s important that substitute teachers have a basic understanding of who they are serving in the classroom. When the sub reports that “I didn’t know that the student had an IEP” this reflects poorly on the district. It’s the district responsibility to make sure that classroom teachers—all of them—know what responsibilities they have as set out in a student’s IEP or BIP.
There is no legal barrier to informing subs of who has an IEP and what it requires. Take a look at your school’s Policy FL (Local). There you will probably find a statement like this:
A school official shall be allowed access to student records if he or she has a legitimate educational interest in the records.
That language comes directly from FERPA, the federal law regarding student records. And look for the policy’s definition of a “school official.” It likely includes all employees. Does a sub have a “legitimate educational interest” in knowing which students have an IEP, and what that IEP requires of them? Of course. This does not mean that subs should have access to all of the information in a student’s special education file. It’s unlikely that a substitute teacher would need to have detailed information from the student’s evaluation, or to review minutes of ARD meetings. But the basics—what does the IEP require of me? That’s what should be provided.
As we enter what is sure to be a challenging spring semester, keep these things in mind and be sure to provide some basic FERPA training to your substitute teachers.
DAWG BONE: FERPA: FAMILY EDUCATIONAL RIGHTS AND PRIVACY ACT. ALSO THE NAME OF SOME LITTLE GIRL IN EAST TEXAS. PROBABLY “FERPA MAE.”
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Tomorrow: is the district liable for what the teacher failed to do?