I went to a seminar today on the legal issues surrounding SLP services in schools. There are many, unfortunately. The lawyer brought to light many issues that are quite difficult to deal with. One is how to specify on an IEP the frequency of services. We typically have specified a certain number of minutes per year minimum in order to avoid saying 60 minutes a week for an entire year. The IEPs are intended to last for an entire claendar year, which includes holidays and summer. Therefore, we could be in a bind if we have commmitted to 60 minutes a week for every week of the year. Not to mention field trips and pep rallies that the child wants to participate in (and is required by law to be _allowed_ to participate in).
The lawyer says that courts have not liked the minutes per year approach because we are not specifying the frequency with which we will be seeing the child. She suggested a "60 minutes per 20 days" approach to cover ourselves. However, that is hard for a parent to understand, and the Federal Govt doesn't like it either--they have fussed at Texas because we were giving more services to children than was written on their IEP. Their reasoning is: If the child needs that much therapy, then it should be documented.
We poor SLPs are caught in a bind. We should do EXACTLY what is on the IEP, no more, no less. And if the child needs more or less, I guess we are supposed to have ANOTHER meeting and change the paperwork again. We are required to have at least one meeting about each child each calendar year. If you multiply that by 50, you can see how one extra meeting per child can add up! Not to mention the extra 20 pages of paperwork required for each meeting! Not much time left for therapy. And if we have said will provide exactly 60 minutes per week, then we have to provide make-up time whenever we are in training or the child is in a school activity. I find it hard to see how I can make up an entire day's worth of therapy when it is like pulling teeth to get these kids out of class at their regular speech times. Argh!