Lack of 1:1 Support in Philadelphia Deemed not Permissible

The Pennsylvania Department of Education released its new Basic Education Circular (BEC) surrounding the issue of 1:1 support commitment to students with disabilities.

The BEC regards 1:1 support as, “The individualized adult support provided in order to address the behavioral and care needs of a student with a disability, over and above the individualized educational support that the student would normally receive from the teaching staff, including paraprofessionals.”

This new BEC release was the work of the Philadelphia Coalition of Nonprofit Advocates asking the state of Pennsylvania to investigate the lack of 1:1 support in Philadelphia schools. In the past, parents of Philadelphia school children with disabilities were told that to receive 1:1 support, they had to ask for this service through medical assistance. If this request was denied, parents could attempt to appeal this decision, and principles had to ask the school district to provide this support.

Seeking 1:1 support is critical in a student’s development because if they do not have access to these services, there can be long-term setbacks. Receiving this support is vital in furthering students with disabilities’ education and development. This service may include but is not limited to group review of materials and a positive behavior plan implementation.

This BEC serves as clarification that these previous actions by Philadelphia schools were not permissible, and the Local Educational Agency (LEA) is required to provide this service to every student with a disability for as long as they need during the school day. The LEA must provide the services as indicated by the student’s IEP or 504 plan.

The method for providing or funding this support, especially the availability of medical assistance funded resources, cannot delay the delivery of this support. Also, the LEA cannot demand any parent to obtain medical assistance or any other insurance. This 1:1 support must be administered by a paraprofessional who will provide the additional individualized services, which is more than what students would usually receive in a typical classroom setting.

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the LEA is responsible for carrying out all or part of the day 1:1 support without delay. This can mean that LEA may have to utilize extra staff to ensure the needs of all the students who require 1:1 support are met in a timely and efficient manner.

When determining whether a student is eligible for 1:1 support, there are several factors to be taken into consideration, such as reports of the student’s past attendance, behavior, and history of mental health services. Even if the student receives one-to-one support from other agencies, this information must still be included in the student’s IEP or 504. Requests for one-to-one services must be detailed and thorough in order to ensure there will be no delays in requests.

Ultimately, the LEA is responsible for providing 1:1 services in a timely manner. If there is a lack of funding or understaffed school support to provide this service, the LEA is forbidden from denying any students with disabilities access to their education, school activities, and transportation. This 1:1 service is critical for students to be included in, so that they have an equal chance of furthering both their personal and academic development.

Click here to read the full Basic Education Circular.