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Rochelle’s Special Education Tips

Shoehorning Students’ Service Hours: The Magical Mystery Tour From Elementary School to Middle School

The winter holiday is around the corner and when school resumes, IEP teams will be gearing up for writing the next round of IEPs. IEP teams have been known to write service hours for elementary school students who are in their last semester of elementary school to reflect the reality of middle school schedules. Doing so is a type of shoehorning which is not allowed, as service hours should be based on the hours needed to implement IEP goals. Service hours should not be based on the length of the middle school periods.

How can this be addressed? There is no easy answer. Start with this: Never state that the service hours are based on the length of time of a class period. So then what? Consider holding an IEP team meeting at the end of elementary school and determine appropriate hours then. Or consider holding an IEP team meeting at the start of middle school to check on progress and if you have to change the hours of service, do it then. Or do both. But do not make a statement during an elementary school IEP team meeting that sounds anything like, “We have a one hour reading block in middle school and so the student’s reading intervention will be one hour.”

Rochelle’s Special Education Tips (“Tips”) are designed to be helpful and thought provoking, but should not be considered legal advice as they may not be accurate for use in all situations. Tips are based on my opinions and positions in accordance with federal and Maryland law and my over 35 years of experience in the special education legal field. – Rochelle S. Eisenberg, Esquire
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