If your child needs a paraprofessional to access after-school activities, your child has the right to have one. I am talking about activities sponsored by the school district. I’ve heard school administrators tell students with paras during their school day, that after-school activities are not part of their IEP and therefore, the school is not obliged to provide one.
Check the Accommodations and Modifications page of your child’s IEP. Here in Connecticut the paraprofessional support is specified on the bottom of this page. Either way, check for where this is specified on your child’s IEP. If the paraprofessional is specified as being used throughout his or her IEP, than a para should be provided for after school activities. If a para is necessary during the day, than one is likely necessary for after-school activities.
Your child has the right to equal access to any after school activity that his or her peers have. Since it is deemed that your child needs a para during the school day, he should have same during after-school activities.
You should, if at all possible, give the school ample notice that your child will be participating in the activity so that they can train a para to properly assist your child.
Do not take “no” they cannot or will not provide a para to assist your child in the after school activity, for an answer. If they do say no, and stick to it, ask an administrator (like the Principal or Assistant Principal) in writing (email is fine, just keep it on file) if it is their opinion that your child can fully access the activity without a paraprofessional, and if so, ask them to explain why. They must give you an answer. Since any answer they come up with is going to put them in jeopardy of non-compliance with IDEA and ADA laws, they will likely give in.
Holding your school district accountable for every decision they make that you disagree with, is powerful.
Many parents have come to me with concerns that their school districts would not grant requests to have their child evaluated for special education needs. The typical reason schools give is that the child “is doing well enough in school and there is no indication that he/she has any learning disability.”
Parents know their child best. And schools should grant these requests without giving excuses as to why they shouldn’t.
Parents – you have a right to get an evaluation, and the school knows it. They bank on parents not knowing that their child has this right. Often parents will not push the school further as they are unaware of their rights, and will usually defer to the “professional” recommendations of the school staff and administrators.
If you have any question about your child’s need for special education, make a formal request for an evaluation, in writing. An email to your child’s teacher and a school administrator – like the principal of his school – stating that you are ‘formally requesting an evaluation” for your child to help determine if he has special education needs. You don’t need to give very specific reasons, just state why you are concerned – in as succinct a way as you can. The school should comply by inviting you to a PPT meeting. PPT is a meeting where all decisions for your child’s (potential) special education are made.
If they do not hold a PPT meeting, tell them you will be sending a request to your state Department of Education to pursue your request. If they say no in a telephone call and do not put it in writing, tell the state Department of Education that the school said no, to your request, and did not provide a reason. If they say no, they must put the reason in writing, otherwise they are not complying with the law. The State Department will advise your school district to comply with the law. And you will have put them in a weak position regarding compliance with your child’s education. This will ultimately be helpful in obtaining appropriate special education for your child when and if it is necessary.