Archive for September, 2010

The two most important aspects of special education law that general educators need to be aware of are the state’s policies about the process of identification of students with disabilities and the teacher’s responsibility regarding an exceptional student’s IEP. 

Most exceptional students at the middle or high school level should already be identified by the state as a student with a disability or a handicap.  It is, however, possible for students to not be identified and so the teacher must be ready to make a referral if necessary.  Every school has the responsibility by law to provide special education for exceptional students.   It is also their responsibility to identify these students requiring this kind of assistance.  General education teachers are responsible for identifying students in their classroom who require additional assistance.  As an employee of the state they are left with the responsibility of carrying out the state’s requirement of identification if exceptional students within their classroom have not already been identified as requiring special education.  Before making a referral, the teacher must be careful to properly identify a student as an exceptional student.  The teacher must check the student’s records to insure that student’s history upholds the teacher’s current assumption.  They must also hold at least one conference to discuss their concerns with the parents or guardians of the student.  And finally, they must document the behavioral and academic strategies that the teacher has attempted to help the student be successful.  Only after the teacher has accomplished these steps can and should a referral be made.  It is important for a teacher to be aware of their responsibility for identification, and the process that is required before referral.

The teacher must also be aware of what their responsibilities are in connection to an exceptional student’s Individual Education Program.  For this the teacher must have access to the portion of the student’s IEP that outlines the teacher’s responsibility.  Each IEP should outline what the goals are of the student and what the student will require from the teacher to meet those goals, both behaviorally and academically.  The teacher’s expectations for the exceptional student must be based on the exceptional student’s IEP, and the teacher must therefore be willing to balance general achievement expectations and the student’s special curriculum.  The teacher must be willing to expand the student’s IEP and goals if possible.  In fulfilling the teacher’s responsibility for the student in his or her classroom outlined on the IEP, the teacher must keep in contact with the student’s parents or guardians regarding the progress of the student.   And, finally, the teacher must be aware that hearing officers and courts can determine that IEPs are in violation of the student receiving a free appropriate public education.  The teacher must be aware of what their responsibilities are regarding an exceptional student’s IEP.

Hallahan, D. P., Kauffman, J. M., & Pullen, P. C. (2009).  Exceptional Learners:  An introduction to Special Education.  Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

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