K-12 Education, Special Education, Education Law
In decisions regarding services for a student classified with a
disability under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement
Act (IDEIA), one of the most impactful choices for an IEP
team or local education agency is whether a student should receive a
one-on-one aide to enhance the least restrictive environment. Many
parents seek such services for their children, while many education
agencies resist, claiming that that one-on-one aides are not appropriate
for a particular student and in fact may not actually provide
the least restrictive environment for the student as established under
This study examined patterns of legal provision or refusal of
one-on-one aides when disagreements reached due process hearing
level. Patterns of differences were analyzed among states and among
disabilities for which aides were provided. No single clearinghouse
of data compares patterns among states, but access to national due
process hearing decisions enabled us to make comparisons over a
year as desired. The decision to initiate a due process hearing is a
parental decision, and many subjective factors enter into that decision.
As a result, studying due process hearings is not an exact data
point into conflict between parents and schools, because many parents
choose, for various reasons to not initiate a due process hearing,
however, such hearings constitute one of the few national large scale
data points available to compare service and aide provision patterns.
Provision or denial of one-on-one aides potentially impacts
students’ rights to be educated in the least restrictive environment
(LRE), and potentially impacts what is a free and appropriate public
education (FAPE) for an individual student. First, all students with
disabilities have the right to be educated with nondisabled peers to
the maximum extent appropriate. Second, only when the regular education
placement with the use of supplementary aids and services
cannot provide a satisfactory education does the IDEIA allow for a
student with a disability to be educated in another environment.
When a different setting is considered in an IEP, the IDEIA provides a
continuum of settings from least to most restrictive: regular classroom,
special classes, special schools, home instruction, and hospital
or institutional instruction. To enable regular classroom placement,
an IEP team may consider parents' request for a one-on-one aide if
this would be the most appropriate and least restrictive for the student—
educationally appropriate with the most complete integration.
Classic court decisions have helped define factors to be
considered in considering LRE. The U.S. Supreme Court has not ruled
on this issue directly, but several U.S. Courts of Appeals' decisions
provide precedent. From Daniel R.R. v. State Board of Ed., 874 F.2d
1036 (1989), the court created the Daniel R.R. test: Can satisfactory
education in a regular education setting be achieved with supplementary
aids and services? If satisfactory education cannot be provided
and the school removes the student from a regular classroom,
does the school mainstream the child to the maximum extent appropriate?
Both Greer v. Rome City School District, 950 F.2d 688 (1991),
and Oberti v. Board of Education, 995 F.2d 1204 (1993), applied the
Daniel R.R. criteria; in both cases the courts ruled that the schools
had not provided adequate support services for the students to remain
in regular classrooms and had not sufficiently attempted to
modify the regular class curriculum to assist the students.
Supplementary aids and services may make learning in the
regular education environment possible for students with disabilities. These "may include pre-referral interventions, consultation,
behavior management plans, paraprofessionals, itinerant teachers,
resource rooms, assistive technology, staff in-services, or other . . .
support for the student and his or her teachers.” Such assistance
ranges dramatically depending on the students' needs as well as on
the specific IEP teams, school districts, and states.
An abundance of research asserts that students with learning
disabilities make significant academic and social improvements
when taught by general education teachers with their grade-level
peers in inclusive settings with appropriate support. But providing
appropriate support is challenging and can be costly.
A one-on-one aide is often a paraprofessional assigned to support
a single student in a regular education classroom, allowing the
student to receive grade level instruction with special education
support. The LRE definition in IDEIA does not indicate that aides
and services should be limited by disability type, but discrepancies
do exist. Researchers in this study were particularly concerned with
unevenness in support between students with easily identifiable disabilities,
such as deafness, and those with behavioral challenges.
Students with less visible physical challenges often may not be provided
one on one paraprofessional aides.
This research endeavored to provide insight on the applications
of the broad goals and pu4rposes of the IDEIA at the local levels
by identifying patterns in states' policies, particularly regarding inequities
or blind spots in meeting students’ needs. The undergirding
principle of IDEIA is that decisions should be individualized to the
needs of each qualifying student, not bound by preset guidelines or
paradigms that might prevent considering one-on-one aides when
appropriate. We began this research expecting to find patterns in
due process decisions suggesting the difference alluded to above between
provision of aides for students such as students with hearing
loss, and students on the spectrum for autism, or with other behavioral
disorders. We investigated all relevant due process hearing decisions
in 2014 and 2015, looking particularly for state differences
that might reveal conflicts in interpretations and policies.
Perkins, Joel T.; Owens, Michael; Ferrin, Scott; Gibb, Gordon; and Randall, Vance
"Patterns of Provision of One on One Aides in Due Process Hearings: A National Sample,"
BYU Education & Law Journal: Vol. 2020
, Article 4.
Available at: https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/byu_elj/vol2020/iss1/4