Last month, I gave you three criteria that LEA representatives must demonstrate to be in compliance with the law during the IEP process. This month, I will educate you on how to use this knowledge to your advantage in selecting someone to "fill your shoes" at an IEP meeting. In a perfect world, the Principal would have enough time in his/her day to attend every IEP meeting. We both know that this is not realistic. I will give you two scenarios - one where you could send a qualified surrogate to be the LEA, and a scenario where you should be there in the LEA role:
In scenario one, a counselor may be an LEA representative for a student, "Meredith", who has a speech impairment. Meredith's IEP calls for 30 minutes of speech therapy per week. Criteria #1 (supervision) for this IEP requires nothing more than knowing who Meredith is, assisting with the scheduling if necessary, and alerting the building level or central office administration if any problems arise during the IEP meeting. The counselor is there to simply affirm that the district hires speech pathologists (which is obvious), that Meredith is going to be scheduled for speech therapy (also obvious), and that this is a very common, typical service for our district to provide. In other words, the obvious is going to happen; Meredith is going to get speech therapy. This fulfills criteria #1. Criteria #2 is also met by virtue of who a counselor is and what they do in a building on a daily basis. One does not have to be a curriculum specialist in order to fulfill criteria #2. A general knowledge of what goes on in the classrooms in the counselor's building is sufficient. Criteria #3 is also met because building counselors know that we hire speech pathologists to provide speech therapy to kids who have speech impairments. So, all three criteria are met. In this case, a building-level counselor can serve as an LEA representative. There are also other situations in which it might be appropriate for a building-level counselor to be an LEA representative. Each situation is different! My next post will outline a scenario where you as building Principal MUST be there as the LEA representative.