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