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special ed teacher pulling out general ed students

Submitted by an LD OnLine user on

I am a special ed teacher that teaches the inclusion model at a middle school. My general ed counterparts have asked me to pull out special ed students as well as general ed students to teach in my classroom 2x a week to work on reading comprehension. I am pretty sure that this is against the law, but cannot find it. My question, what is the legal issue on this? Is it illegal?

Submitted by DRHD on Wed, 02/09/2011 - 1:17 PM



I read your posting with great interest. As a special education teacher and working within the framework of an inclusive model of special education delivery of services, you are not doing anything “illegal”. However, you need to be fully aware there may be slippery slopes of what is being proposed of you. Please permit me to explain.

1) IDEA 2004 has well established concepts that all States and local school divisions follow the reuirements of FAPE and LRE. The special education delivery model of inclusion in current times is concerned about how a service is to be delivered and not necessarily the location of those services. Hence, special education is a service and not a program that has been the state of the art in prior years. The inclusion model allows a disabled child to have access to the general education curriculum and is equitable.

2) To the extent the IEP allows for pull out intervention that is what you should be concerned about. If the IEP does not provide for this level of intervention then for all practical reasons, there may in fact be an issue of a “change in placement” that has taken place without parental consent. A teacher to just state that you need to take the special and general ed students and work with them in comprehension is not within the intent of the IEP process or the regulatons that govern special education. There needs to be an obvious compelling reason to do this but it must be done within the IEP process to protect the child’s interest and your interest as the one to deliver the service. My guess is the request is legitimate but out of sync with established procedures of the IEP procedure.

CBest, I sense your apprehension about what you are about to do and I commend you for raising the question. The lines between special education and general education have become blurred and often confusing and becomes difficult to realize when and how a non-compliance issue can emerge. I submit that school divisions who invoke the inclusion model of delivery run a risk each and every day of potentially flirting with unintended exclusionary practices and forgetting that sppecial education in itself still has a requirement to subscribe to very strict parameters.

Overall and the bottom line, you can either provide the help either in the classroom or in another location. However, if this intervention is not something that is justified based on assessed needs, then the forum for this discussion and consent resides within the authority of the IEP Team.


Submitted by peteacher on Mon, 10/10/2011 - 1:30 PM



Thanks for your post. I too face the same struggles and challenges that cbest is facing regarding special education students.

I agree that we need to focus more on how the service is delivered compared to where. This will depend on student to student and what each students’ IEP states. Teachers need to provide a service that will be in the best interest of the student involved.

I am currently taking classes to get my masters in special education so I am learning much in regards to students with special needs. My eyes have been open to many issues regarding communication between regular education and special education teachers now that I am taking these classes.

I do not think it is against the law to pull out regular education students as we are starting the RTI process in our school and are encouraged to help all students at an early age.

I agree when you say to follow the IEP. There should be no questions about what to do when following the requirements of a student’s IEP.

Submitted by ming-chin on Wed, 10/12/2011 - 2:00 PM


Hi, Cbest
As a general educator, I noticed that many students with special needs are wasting their time in general setting classroom. I think the main reason is that general teachers are not well-prepared for differentiating their instructions. Another reason might be that middle school faces high pressure from tests and direct leturing sometimes work more efficiently than cooperative learning.
Anyway, here I want to speak for the general teacher that he/she may see the problem and really need help from you. You can either teach those slow-learners seperatedly, or help him/her differentiate his/her instructions. Hope both of you can work together and design what is the best for all the students.

Submitted by DRHD on Sat, 10/29/2011 - 12:23 AM


Ming -Chin,

I think you have missed the point of the initial question raised by CBest. Both you and the special education teacher have a duty and an obligation to ensure all children with disabilities have a right to a free appropriate education in the least restrictive environment. For you to place this burden upon the shoulders of CBest is minimizing your role in this process. Special education is not a location within a school. It is the collaboration of general and special educators to achieve goals that are within an IEP. I suggest you retink your response.


Submitted by ebockoras on Mon, 04/08/2013 - 6:03 PM


It sounds as if the teacher you are working with is following more of a Response to Intervention (RTI) Model in asking you to work with general education students as well as special education to provide interventions to students who may be experiencing difficulties. I agree with DRHD that it is best to make sure you are adhering to the IEP of the special education students so as not to be in contrast to the services they require. Special education should definitely be looked at as a service rather than a placement and I do not think that providing assistance to general education students would impede services to the special education students. As a matter of fact, having general education students working with the special needs students helps to adhere to the idea of the least restrictive environment in which children with disabilities should be educated with their nondisabled peers to the maximum extent possible (Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act, 2004). If it is part of the IEP for the special needs students to have pull-out services I do not think it would be harmful in any way to have general education students working alongside them. You could even do more of a partner system or buddy system for some of your instruction with these students. Perhaps if the pull-out is contrary to the IEP, you could suggest some peer assisted learning that could be done with both types of students within the general education setting. Several studies have indicated that peer mediated instruction showed academic improvement for all students including those who were identified as at-risk (Maryland Coalition for Inclusive Education, 2010). You could help to develop and monitor the peer instruction within the classroom setting and maintain the integrity of the least restrictive environment for all students.
Hope you are able to resolve any conflicts!
Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (2004). 20 U.S.C. 1412 (a) (5) (A). Retrieved
Maryland Coalition for Inclusive Education (2010). Making inclusion work. Retrieved from

Submitted by crayo11 on Wed, 04/10/2013 - 12:00 AM


I agree that sometimes the lines can be blurred between special and regular education. It is important to remember that regardless of what the law says, the parents may become upset and mis perceive what you’re trying to do to help. I do believe that it is unethical to provide these services without notifying the parents first. I know I had done this as well but, was cautious about providing services for students who didn’t have an IEP

Submitted by Heatherfau on Thu, 04/11/2013 - 2:35 AM


I am currently a special educator in a self-contained classroom, but have previously worked in resource and inclusion support.

In the past I was asked to pull general education students for “additional” support. There could only be a conflict if the student was not present for the required classroom instructional block that is mandated by the state or district. There is absolutely nothing illegal about providing intervention/support in addition to the daily classroom instruction.

However, it would be ethical and wise to confirm the validity of pulling any student from their classroom with the administration. It does not sound as if the situation you described is part of an officially structured RTI process in which documentation is specifically required. The classroom teacher should also inform the guardian of the student that the child is receiving additional support outside of the classroom. Some may be opposed to their child being removed from their classroom and have a right to know if this is taking place.

Submitted by Fowl on Tue, 10/08/2013 - 11:19 PM


I can understand your frustration. I do not know how many students are on your caseload but where I work all special educators have a lot of students. I work at the elementary level as a grade 4 classroom teacher. Though I have never asked the special educator that I work with if she would pull students out of the class, she does work with general ed students inside my class.
Our administration really pushes for co-teaching so when students can be serviced in the classroom we do a lot of co-teaching and small group rotation. I know that probably wouldn’t work in middle school. Within my class she will work with one our special ed students and a few general ed students. We also share a lot of the work though. I keep track of IEP goals and objectives as well as modify for all our different special ed students.
I am working on my Masters in Special Education so your post really helped me see where it can be a strain on a special educator to have their caseload and be asked to work with other students as well. I think it is important for you to bring it up to administration. If you don’t feel like you are getting enough time with your students then that can create stress and you should voice your concern.

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