Substitute Teachers in the Special Education Classroom

July 29, 2021 By Brittany J. Reed In Legal Alerts

The shortage in special education teachers is expected to be at an all-time high this year, amplified in part by teacher illness, quarantine, and burnout. Districts will undoubtedly need to utilize substitute teachers to help fill the gaps. When this situation arises, remember to assess whether any child in the classroom has an IEP or 504 Plan. If they do, keep in mind the following questions:

  • Is the substitute teacher certificated to teach special education?
    • If not, how will the district provide services to students in the classroom who have an IEP or 504 Plan?
  • Have we provided the substitute teacher with a copy of each student’s IEP or 504 Plan?
  • Does the substitute teacher have experience in special education and understand how to read and fully implement an IEP or 504 Plan?
    • If not, can we appoint a coordinator, mentor, or co-teacher to ensure full implementation of each student’s IEP or 504 Plan?

Possible concerns about providing a free appropriate public education (FAPE) may increase the longer a substitute remains responsible for the provision of special education. Your counsel can assist you in analyzing your options as you navigate the myriad of challenges that arise due to teacher shortages.

For more information or questions, please contact any of our education law attorneys listed below.

Robert D. Haws

Jennifer N. MacLennan

Carrie L. O’Brien

Susan P. Segal

Brittany J. Reed

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