The Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) has recently clarified the responsibilities of school districts under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) with regard to sharing Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) with paraprofessionals. The CSDE, through a brief sent to paraprofessional supervisors, informed school districts that they may share an IEP with a paraprofessional when the paraprofessional is important to supporting a student eligible for special education and when the paraprofessional needs to understand his/her role in implementing the student’s IEP. It would also be appropriate, according to the CDSE, for the district to allow supervising teachers and staff working with a special education student to disclose information contained in the student’s IEP to paraprofessionals working directly with the student.
The CDSE emphasized the importance of keeping paraprofessionals informed of the district’s expectations of them in the context of the student’s IEP.
Although paraprofessionals are not required members of an IEP team or PPT team under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), school districts may determine whether it is appropriate or feasible for the paraprofessional to attend a child’s IEP team meeting. It remains important for district personnel to explain the district’s policy on paraprofessional PPT attendance to parents and school staff. If a paraprofessional is required by the IEP and is not attending the PPT meeting, the CDSE makes clear that it is the responsibility of the student’s teacher and the paraprofessional supervisor to communicate with the paraprofessional prior to the IEP team meeting.
The CDSE reiterated that student information is confidential and should only be shared with teachers and staff working directly with the student. School districts should ensure that any staff member who accesses a student’s IEP signs in on an access form indicating the reason for accessing the record. Additionally, school districts must inform paraprofessionals who type, collect and store education records that such written data is confidential and may not be shared with persons outside the educational team.