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LEA representatives:  Who can serve? 

I don't know how your state interprets the role of school psychologist, but generally I have avoided LEA rep responsibility by saying that I was not qualified to provide specially designed instruction rising to the level of special education. If, however, your state interprets your qualifications to provide related services such as counseling as rising to the level of specially designed instruction, or if you hold other certifications, such as a sped teacher certificate, you could qualify to serve. What I do is hardly dispositive.

There is of course no prohibition against school psychologists or counselors serving as LEA representatives IF they also meet the criteria set forth in the federal regulations. Since most of us are not qualified to supervise the provision of special education services, that means we'd only qualify if our states regarded the related services we provide or are qualified to provide as rising to the level of specially designed instruction (special education.) In some districts, you will see sped teachers serving as LEA reps when a child is being picked up by speech, and visa versa. But they are clearly both qualified to provide specially designed instruction. I'd put the question to your state agency, if I were you. The following OSEP letter may be referenced:

http://www.pattan.net/files/OSEP/CY1998/Collins1.pdf

A similar concern was voiced about counselors again, and OSEP responded in 2000.

 http://www.pattan.net/files/OSEP/CY2000-2qu/Cormany.pdf

Wadleigh.com cites a similar letter for March of that same year, but I was unable to find a corresponding link to an OSEP letter on that date. The summary sounds like the letter above, and therefore I suspect the cite is incorrect.

"34 IDELR 9 (OSEP Opinion, March 11, 2000). This opinion letter responded to the inquiry as to whether or not a school district may use school counselors as the LEA representative on the IEP team. OSEP responded in the affirmative, indicating that there was nothing in Part B which restricted a district from appointing a school counselor as the LEA representative on the IEP team, provided the LEA representative meets the requirements of 34 CFR 300.344 (a) (4). This section requires that the LEA representative be qualified to provide, or supervise the provision of, specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of children with disabilities, be knowledgeable about the general curriculum, and be knowledgeable about the availability of resources of the LEA."

The two OSEP letters above suggest that if the writers have concerns, they file complaints with Pennsylvania's DPI. I do not know if they took that advice or how Pennsylvania responded; but if someone has a link in reference to Pennsylvania's view, I would really like to see it.

Absent a clearly supportive letter from my DPI saying my certification qualified me as a sped service provider consistent with the federal regulations, I'd view the following school system's Program Review Report as cautionary.

"IEP team members. In a few IEPs, the LEA representative position was filled by a school psychologist or a school counselor. This could potentially be a problem because the LEA position must be filled by someone who is (a) qualified to provide, or supervise the provision of specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of children with disabilities, (b) knowledgeable about the general curriculum, and (c) knowledgeable about the availability of school district resources (IDEA Regulations, 34 C.F.R. 300.344). Moreover, this individual, by signing the IEP, commits school district resources listed in the IEP, therefore, if the principal or the assistant principal does not attend the IEP meetings, he or she should designate someone to stand in his or her place. The designee must meet the three requirements listed above. If the school psychologist or school counselor meets these conditions, then they may sit in for the school district representative. If, however, they do not meet these conditions, the school district should designate someone who does meet the conditions. For example, a special education teacher, who is not the child's teacher, may meet these requirements and could sit an IEP meeting as the district's representative."


http://www.richland2.org/lib/files/DistrictOffice/Departments/QualityAssessment/Richland2.report.final.05.doc

As a by the way, it is commonly said that LEA representatives must have the authority to commit district resources to educate a disabled child. That is not explicit in the regulations themselves, because OSERS has said it isn't necessary to say it . . . Once signed, the IEP is (paraphrasing) a binding contract. So the LEA rep has that power whether anybody says "You have it" or not.

I realize my response is not definitive, but while it has always seemed clear to me that school psychologists do not provide and are not qualified by their certification to supervise the provision of sped, the practice of using psychologists as LEA representatives is sufficiently wide spread to suggest others disagree with that (e.g., this school in Wisconsin: http://www.deforest.k12.wi.us/adminregs/showpol.php?id=18 . . . but since it is the state that's going to be addressing any complaints that are filed, it is therefore to the state that I'd be addressing my questions if this was an issue.

The LEA representative is obviously someone representing the LEA . . . which he or she must be designated as the LEA representative by someone in authority. The ultimate LEA representative, of course, is the superintendent, who represents the school board. So while the appointment of LEA representatives falls generally with the authority of principals, where there is a major dispute, the superintendent's authority to designate his or her representative may result in someone else being in charge of an IEP team meeting. This is important in cases where IEP teams fail to reach consensus.

For example, in a case where the principal wants a child sent to a self contained setting, and the parent is appealing, the superintendent may authorize the special education director to serve as the LEA representative, with authority to resolve the dispute. In designating someone to serve as LEA rep, the administrator responsible for making that decision does of course need to ask him or herself, "Do I really want to give this person that power?"

If so, IDEA 97 and its implementing regulations in 1999 were amended to allow LEAs to appoint anyone on the team meeting the requirements of the regulation as the LEA representative. While we have traditionally abided by the principle that the LEA representative should be someone other than the child's special education teacher, I find nothing in the regulation to prohibit the designation of the sped teacher as LEA representative.

Which leads me to wonder why the school administration would even consider the appointment of someone whose decisions could be challenged based on qualifications alone . . .

Guy

Required member of the IEP team according to IDEA 2006 regulations:

"4) A representative of the public agency who--
(i) Is qualified to provide, or supervise the provision of, specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of children with disabilities;
(ii) Is knowledgeable about the general education curriculum; and
(iii) Is knowledgeable about the availability of resources of the public agency."

And from the same section:

"(d) Designating a public agency representative. A public agency may designate a public agency member of the IEP Team to also serve as the agency representative, if the criteria in paragraph (a)(4) of this section are satisfied."

In a prior iteration of the IDEA, Appendix C, generally regarded by the courts as carrying the force of law, said:

34 CFR 300, Appendix C, Question 13

"13. Who can serve as the representative of the public agency at an IEP meeting?

The representative of the public agency could be any member of the school staff, other than the child's teacher, who is qualified to provide, or supervise the provision of, specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of children with disabilities. Thus, the agency representative could be (1) a qualified special education administrator, supervisor, or teacher (including a speech-language pathologist), or (2) a school principal or other administrator - if the person is qualified to provide, or supervise the provision of, special education.

Each State or local agency may determine which specific staff member will serve as the agency representative. However, the representative should be able to ensure that whatever services are set out in the IEP will actually be provided and that the IEP will not be vetoed at a higher administrative level within the agency. Thus, the person selected should have the authority to commit agency resources (i.e., to make decisions about the specific special education and related services that the agency will provide to a particular child)."

However, it changed in 1999; see Appendix A from the 1999 regulations below. The highlighted phrase above is gone. Surprised the heck out of me. I'd missed those missing words.

"22. Who can serve as the representative of the public agency at an IEP meeting?

The IEP team must include a representative of the public agency who: (a) is qualified to provide, or supervise the provision of, specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of children with disabilities; (b) is knowledgeable about the general curriculum; and (c) is knowledgeable about the availability of resources of the public agency (300.344(a)(4)).

Each public agency may determine which specific staff member will serve as the agency representative in a particular IEP meeting, so long as the individual meets these requirements. It is important, however, that the agency representative have the authority to commit agency resources and be able to ensure that whatever services are set out in the IEP will actually be provided.

A public agency may designate another public agency member of the IEP team to also serve as the agency representative, so long as that individual meets the requirements of 300.344(a)(4)."

 

Guy