4. SLP Misidentification

We wonder who puts the so many children in special education? Who are the key decision-makers? SLPs play a key role.

IDEA 2004 regulations address the thorny problem of decisions to place learning disabled children, a category that by all sources has run wild over the last 35 years.

“The determination of whether a child suspected of having a specific learning disability is a child with a disability as defined in 34 CFR 300.8, must be made by the child’s parents and a team of qualified professionals…”

The decision to place is a team decision approved by the child’s parents. Final responsibility rests with the parents. It is unclear where responsibility resides when it comes to indefinitely large IEP teams. However, the team under IDEA regulations must include:

1. “The child’s regular teacher; or if the child does not have a regular teacher, a regular classroom teacher qualified to teach a child of his or her age; or for a child of less than school age, an individual qualified by the State educational agency (SEA) to teach a child of his or her age…”

We see the importance of the educational perspective in the composition of the IEP team. This can include the teacher who made the referral for services.

2. “At least one person qualified to conduct individual diagnostic examinations of children, such as a school psychologist, speech-language pathologist, or remedial reading teacher.”

This requirement confirms that school psychologists and speech-language pathologist provide much of the critical diagnostic information used for SLD placements. Remedial reading teachers, one surmises, play a lesser role nationwide.

Weight of opinion is not addressed by the IDEA regulations. Parents, psychologists, teachers and SLPs offer opinions carrying more weight than some of the other participants. Related services personnel add weight when their professional opinions fit the recommendation of LD eligibility.

Final determinations are still cast in the dim light of the group dynamics of the IEP team plus local customs (cf. Micro Level).

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