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Speech in the Schools

A Winner and a Question!

Published April 30, 2012 7:00 AM by Alexandra Streeter
I have a winner! I would like to send Shannon, from Grandville Public Schools in Michigan, a copy of the Pirate Who Couldn't Say "Arr!" Shannon, please send me your address at Shannon was the eighth commenter - "8" in this case being the magic number!

I really appreciated the comments and was pleased to get one in my private message box from an SLP who is dealing with a dilemma I've heard other SLPs discuss of late. The question is:

"We are going the rounds in my district on how to state speech-language service time on IEPs. Our director (not an SLP) states that we have to specify time per week and provide that time for every week school is in session, including "making up" sessions missed due to holidays. Her rationale is that if the IEP states 60 minutes per week, we need to provide 60 minutes every week, regardless of assemblies, holidays, assessments, etc. How do other districts handle this on their IEPs?"

I have had some transfer IEPs come in with a statement that says something like, "There may be exceptions for time due to holidays, snow days, assemblies and special activities." We have learned that this statement cannot include exceptions due to therapist illness.

In my district, we have had a few occasions when there was a family emergency, and if an SLP knew he/she was going to miss a significant amount of time, other SLPs were asked if it would be possible to help cover (for example, if someone worked part-time and was willing to pick up a day), or a contract SLP was hired for a short time. I have also seen districts provide summer services to students who have missed numerous sessions.

This, of course, is not possible for the times we have to miss for the inevitable bugs and flus we pick up from our little students! It can be very stressful if we're being asked to make up sessions for students we miss while dealing with our own or family members' illnesses. As we all know, SLPs do not have subs (although I think a short-term sub therapist service would be a great idea for a business!)

I was curious, so I called our state office of education and spoke with a director. She agreed this is a good question, and also a tricky one. She told me about a district in the area that was handling parental complaints about this issue. Ultimately, this district used information from ASHA found here.

In a nutshell, ASHA advises districts against establishing a policy regarding missed sessions, instead recommending that each IEP team determine whether absences have caused a denial of FAPE. (Are the students making progress even though you were home sick for three days?) If they have, it is the district, NOT the individual SLP, who must come up with a plan to make up sessions.

 I suggest that any SLP department dealing with this issue share this brief with their administration and/or union. (And don't forget to wash your hands numerous times per day!)

Meanwhile, how does your district handle this issue? Do you make up students you miss when sick? Have you been asked to? Please share in the comments below or on the ADVANCE Facebook page.



We document why a service was not provided. So, if I was sick, I write that "I was absent due to illness" and do not feel compelled to make up the session.  It wouldn't be possible any way.  On the flip side, I experience more cancelations due to classroom reasons, such as a special visitor, state assessments, birthday party, etc. I would never feel obligated to make up those sessions.  I, again, just document the reason on my therapy data.  Hey, if a teacher misses teaching one day, she/he doesn't "make it up" on Saturdays!

Susie, , SLP K-6 public school May 3, 2012 6:48 PM

Deborah I really like that idea. I will share it w/ my team!

Alex Streeter May 1, 2012 10:34 PM

We usually put minutes per month and give a range. E.g. 80-160 min/mo.  This way it doesn't specify how many times a week so if student or therapist is unavailable the time can be made up within the month. I have also seen it written on IEPs from other districts In a  range like 20-30 minutes 4-6 x/month.  

Deborah, , SLP Public Schools April 30, 2012 7:47 PM
Grand Haven MI

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About this Blog

    Speech in the Schools
    Occupation: School-based speech-language pathologists
    Setting: Traditional and specialized K-12 classrooms
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