Monthly Archives: September 2010

Middle School Speech Therapy Exit

The SLP is a member of the IEP team, and can influence placement and retention decisions.  They are group decisions, not ones made by individuals, and a vote is taken.  Speech therapists can speak up and advocate for dismissal.

A middle school speech pathologist had a 6th grade girl with a persistent /r/ problem.  She was also classified as learning disabled.  

The annual IEP meeting came up.  The girl could not be dismissed as speech child but the speech therapist took part in the general discussion about the LD placement.  There was no recommendation to dismiss but the resource teacher said she had made improvement in reading.  The therapist asked the regular teacher whether there were non special education readers in her classroom whose performances were below the girl.  She said there were.

 “Then is she ready for dismissal from learning disability placement?” the speech therapist asked. 

The team was taken aback by the questions but the principal said they had recently dismissed a child at the middle school.  There did not seem to be awareness that children who are in special education could be dismissed.  The team agreed to make a note about possible dismissal to be considered in one year.  National special education figures across the grades have shown that once LD children are placed they are carried all the way into high school.

In recent history, schools have benefitted financially from “carrying paper” on children who do not belong in special education.  The cost is small but the reimbursement level is higher.

Speech therapists have an ethical and legal responsibility to speak on behalf of children who are misplaced in special education.  In fact, they can follow the IDEA guidelines to vote NO against LD placements and sign the IEP form accordingly.  They may be out-voted but they do not have to go along with the group where placements are inappropriate.


SLP Caseload Management in Iowa

On September 14, 2010, the Iowa City Press Citizen reported the U. S. Department of Education is seeking to determine why there are so many black children in the Iowa City district special education department.  Audits from the 2004-2005 school year “…indicated although black students made up only 12 percent of the student population, they made up 40 percent of all students with Individualized Education Plans.”

Assistant Superintendent Ann Feldmann “…said the disproportionate number of black students in special education is not a result of teachers giving up on students experiencing problems or having behavioral issues. Teachers simply want to get students in need hooked up with better resources, she said.”  She expressed the view that more black children need to be educated within general education. 

One surmises district SLPs have a chance to reduce their caseloads by reviewing their placement criteria and recommendations.  They should receive administrative support.