Does budget make untrained staff responsible for special ed needs of speech and language kids?

Can anyone explain Discussion Item C-9, which says “Excluding from the cross-categorical special education allocation formula, Students with a Speech and Language Only Disability?” (I attached the district’s explanation below.)
It appears that speech and language clinicians will provide “special education services and supports,” but speech and language clinicians aren’t trained to deliver special education services. Is it a good idea to have untrained staff providing services to kids who need specially trained staff?
Additionally, this change will supposedly eliminate 22.5 FTE educational assistants and 22.5 FTE teachers. Will those positions be special education EAs and teachers?
It appears to me that special education students are going to be badly short-changed and mis-served.
Does anyone have another take on the cuts?

Discussion Item C-9
Department of Educational Services
Division of Special Education

Discussion Item: Excluding from the cross-categorical special education allocation formula, Students with a Speech and Language Only Disability
Background: The formula used for the past 5 years to determine a school’s base crosscategorical
special education teacher and corresponding assistant (SEA) allocation has relied on a number of inputs. These inputs are:
– an unduplicated count of students with disabilities who are currently receiving special education from a cross-categorical teacher,
– transfer students that have enrolled at a MMSD school with an IEP from another district whose transfer Individualized Education Program (IEP) paperwork has not yet been completed and processed,
– a count of students who have been initially referred to special education and are through the eligibility phase of the IEP process with a documented disability and need for special education (their IEP program and placement has not yet been completed),
– a percentage of the students who have been initially referred to special education and are not yet through the eligibility phase of the initial IEP process. The percentage is computed by using the placement rate (i.e., percentage of students initially referred who were placed into special education) for the previous year for elementary, middle and high schools and then applying this percentage rate to the referrals for each school that are “in process” and have not yet resulted in eligibility determination. Consequently,each school was credited for a percentage of their initial referrals that are still in process using the prior year placement rate,
– **a count of students who have a speech and language only disability where the IEP team has determined they would benefit from services by a cross-categorical special education teacher in addition to the services they are receiving from a Speech and Language therapist.
Anticipated Savings: $2,158,285
Impact: ** Eliminating the counting of students who have a Speech and Language only disability as an input to the cross-categorical formula will require that Speech and Language clinicians assume primary responsibility for special education services and supports to address the student’s language needs when educated in a general education setting. Speech and Language clinicians currently have a “Support Services Week” that is used to provide consultation to staff, complete assessments, IEP paperwork, etc.Students generally have not received direct services during this week. This week, therefore, can be used to provide consultative support to staff and students who have language needs in the general education setting.

8 thoughts on “Does budget make untrained staff responsible for special ed needs of speech and language kids?”

  1. If a child has been identified to be in need of Speech and Language services they can access support from a Cross Categorical Special Education teacher for needs(academic, social, organization) identified per their IEP . In the past, a child with a S/L only disability who accesses CC (Special Education teacher) support has been counted on both the S/L clinician list AND the CC teacher list. The CC teacher, in my experience, has handled the casemanagement job (arranging meetings, taking care of the paperwork etc).
    With this proposed budget cut, the kids with S/L disability, who also access CC support, will be counted on the S/L list AND NOT the Spec Ed CC list. Thus eliminating CC teacher allocations and their supporting SEA allocations. This does not mean, however, that the additional support will/should stop from a CC teacher. The S/L clinician may need to take more of an active role during their support services week to offer more ideas and support to the regular and special education teacher.
    The schools take a hit on this one by losing Special Education teachers and SEA time.

  2. Ed – The way this was explained to me is that the students who have a ‘speech/language only’ disability have essentially been double-counted for purposes of staffing allocation. They get both speech/language services and special ed services. I’m not familiar with all the disability categories, but presumably these kids don’t qualify as Learning Disabled, Cognitively Disabled, or other special ed category. In the past, these kids would have been included as special ed for purposes of determining that allocation. This budget item removes those kids from the calculation, thus reducing the number of special ed teachers needed to support the reduced number of special ed students.
    Is this a good idea? Maybe someone with expertise in this area can weigh in. It seems like it makes some sense if the district was purposely inflating the number of special ed kids, by including speech/language only, in order to increase the special ed allocation. If they can exclude those kids from the special ed calculation, but still be providing appropriate speech/language services, then this would seem to be a reasonable budget cut.
    Pardon me if my terminology isn’t correct…I’m not very familiar with special education services.

  3. The classic example of this would be a child who has a motoric issue with speech, which interferes with speech and language PRODUCTION. Speech and language production is completely different from RECEPTION. Children with receptive issues definitely need the cross-categorical teachers because interference of language reception is a learning disability. Of course, some children have both production and reception issues. One could argue that given the social/emotional affects of a production-related disability, these children benefit from cross-categorical help as well.
    I can understand taking children with solely speech production disabilities off of the caseloads of cross-categorical teachers IF there is absolutely no other issue regarding learning for that specific child; however, in the real world (classroom), the CC teachers will still work with these children- much the same as they assist every child, disabled or not. Caseload/paperwork-wise, the current system (and the recent changes to the IEP process)have all of our special ed staff overwhelmed.
    There is another, uglier side to all of this. Our local HMOs have, over the past decade, slowly eroded their coverage for these type of services (speech & language). Their excuse is that once a child reaches school age, the MMSD is responsible for these services. In fact, although the contract language of the insurance policies hasn’t changed whatsoever, the HMOs have changed THEIR interpretation of said policies. Physicians Plus is the major offender in this regard, but Dean is guilty as well. So, as they have gotten their real property off our tax rolls via an exemption as “non-profit” healthcare providers, they’ve also denied services and put the onus on the public school system to provide them.

  4. My eldest son had fine motor delays that caused significant sound production problems. He received S & L through fourth grade. By third grade he had only a few sounds he was working on before they would discharge him from his IEP. But based on the paperwork the Speech Therapist produced and forms I had to sign, you would have thought this otherwise very bright student, was receiving hours and hours of therapy. The reduction of sheer paper work I am positive would save the district millions on person hours and paper!
    When I read about this reduction I too was confused by what this meant…..I also know many students receiving just S & L services. It seems to make sense, but since this has been a cushion for the district I am sure it will impact some area that has depended on these extra funds that we are not aware.

  5. It sounds like a general concensus in support of this cut. It will have little or no impact on services to students. Correct? If money could be found to fund these services, should the money be used for these services or used some place else?

  6. Not all speech and language students have been counted on CC caseloads, and I have never heard of a student who qualified based on speech only issues, being added to a CC teacher’s caseload. When IEPs are written, the services that students are provided are based on the extent of their ability to benefit from regular education curriculum and instruction. An IEP team might determine that a student who qualifies for special education services under the category of speech and language, but who is struggling academically may have a need for specialized reading, writing or math instruction. It would have been documented in an earlier portion of the IEP that they were not making adequate progress in the subject(s), possibly due to difficulties with expressive or receptive language. This could be true even though the student may not meet the criteria for a specific learning disability. Speech and Language caseloads are large and are designed for a (rough) average of 30-90 minutes of contact time per week, usually working with a few students at a time. This does not allow for a speech and language clinician to provide daily support or instruction in an academic subject (let alone multiple subjects). Instead, those services have been (and apparantly will continue to be) provided by a special education teacher. The difference will be that that student will be invisible for the purposes of special education allocation. Yes, it will save money, but in my mind, this is somewhat like not counting special education students on regular education classlists because they are already counted on special education lists. It essentially raises CC caseloads in an uneven, haphazard kind of way.
    In my building there is not consensus that this will not impact services to students. It would be more accurate to say that there aren’t any appealing places to cut special education services, so most of us are just resigned to the fact that this will happen.

  7. TeacherL,
    Your analogy helps make the situation clearer, if I understand.
    Jill explained, “In the past, these kids would have been included as special ed for purposes of determining that allocation. This budget item removes those kids from the calculation, thus reducing the number of special ed teachers needed to support the reduced number of special ed students.”
    The analogous situation would be not to count special ed kids as being in a classroom, because they’re on the special ed teacher’s case load. So a classroom of 20 students with 5 special ed kids would be a classroom of 15 kids. Just by taking these special ed kids out of a school’s allocation (putting more kids in each classroom, but not counting them), the MMSD could further reduce the number of classroom teachers. Nobody gets hurt, and all the kids still get services. Right?
    Makes good sense to me.

  8. Ed,
    Yes, that is essentially it. The difference of course is in terms of scope. In our analogous example there would be significant district-wide impact–multiple classrooms in every building in the district. The distribution in the actual situation is more random, and therefore will impact schools/teachers somewhat randomly depending on the needs of the students who happen to be there. I don’t think there are any students in my school currently recieving services this way, but in some years there have been 1-2 per caseload. I have no idea how this shakes out currently on a district wide basis, but if there are enough to make a budget impact, then there are enough to make a difference at least in some places. I wouldn’t choose this, but I wouldn’t choose cuts anywhere and don’t have a better idea where special education savings could come from.

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