Roles & Responsibilities of Special Education Professionals

Roles & Responsibilities of Special Education Professionals
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Maria Airth

Maria has a Doctorate of Education and over 15 years of experience teaching psychology and math related courses at the university level.

The roles and responsibilities of special education professionals are varied. They are responsible for complying with many federal and local laws and regulations regarding the treatment and well-being of people with disabilities. Their roles involve every aspect of the educational process.

Teachers and Special Education Professionals

First, let's look at the roles of a teacher. In short, a teacher teaches, but they also design the educational content to pass knowledge to students. Teachers are responsible for assessing students' learning and skills through testing or other assignments designed to illustrate the students' abilities. Through these assessments, teachers are often expected to identify at-risk students and bring those students to the attention of the proper departments within the school.

In short, a teacher is much more than a person who presents information.

Now, what is the role of a special education professional? A special education professional's roles include those of a traditional classroom teacher and of a support service provider. The difference between a special education professional and a mainstream teacher is that the special education professional performs all duties with and for students with varying degrees of disability and not all duties are related to teaching. All teachers must be aware of laws that regulate the education environment, but special education professionals must also be aware of the laws pertaining to people with disabilities. As we discuss special education professionals, we should first discuss their responsibilities to their students as vulnerable individuals.

Responsibilities of Special Ed Professionals

All special education professionals must comply with the rules and regulations set forth in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), of 2004, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). All of these acts ensure that people with disabilities are given equal access to all aspects of life and living as any non-disabled person, including education and the right to personal privacy.

Special education professionals are also responsible for creating an individualized education plan (IEP) for each of their students. An IEP is a document specifying documented medical issues, accommodations, and educational goals for each disabled student. A typical IEP might inform all education professionals working with a particular student that the student has moderate autism, needs additional testing time in an isolated area, as well as isolated downtime during the day, and that the student's goal is to limit self-isolated sessions to five per day. IEPs assist all educational professionals who work with the student with accommodating the student's needs.

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