IEPs for students with disabilities sometimes require services that the school district cannot provide by itself. Many people who work for school districts, however, have an unclear image of the many organizational relationships that a school district has—or how important these relationships can be to the district, the school, and to teachers and paraprofessionals. Many district employees rarely think of it. Out of sight, out of mind! So here’s a picture to put the web of relationships into context.
It’s a complicated picture!
Just look at all the different organizations and sub-organizations! And then imagine all the people in those organizations who actually provide services and talk to one another across organizational boundaries.
Here’s what the picture shows:
- The school is attached to the school district: it has important relationships with the central office and central office staff.
- The school has working relationships with staff at two offices at the ESC: psychological services and human resources. (“You” are employed to work at the school through the ESC—an arrangement approved and monitored both by your principal and by central office staff.)
- The central office also has relationships with administrators at both the ESC and the hospital.
- The school has relationships with the hospital’s physical and occupational therapy departments, but not its neurology department (but it might in the future, since neurology is the department that deals with epilepsy.)
- As a parapro, you may escort students to sessions with visiting psychologists (from the ESC) and physical therapists (from the hospital), but you also may have interactions with staff from the ESC related to your employment.
So paraprofessionals might…
be employees of another organization—like an Educational Service Center;
escort students to sessions with a variety of staff from several outside organizations;
participate in IEP meetings to consider whether students need services from staff at outside organizations.
What the illustration presents is a simplified picture. All the other schools in the district also have relationships with units at the hospital and ESC…and other outside organizations not shown. And some principals, teachers, and paraprofessionals from other schools in the district have relationships with your school. The actual picture would be too complicated to show in detail!
So it’s important to know something about inter-agency collaboration. No one can know everything, but we all need to realize how limited our knowledge is and how important it is, therefore, to exercise the caution and thoughtfulness that is so much a part of effective communication.