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Expert Q&A

Does the No Child Left Behind Law say a special education teacher can only instruct students with a diagnosis that matches their credential?

I teach a special day class for students with severe language disorders. I have a California clinical rehabilitation credential for speech pathology, as well as an authorization to teach a communications handicaps class.

Our district is a relatively small one. Occasionally in the past, I have willingly taken students who have other disabilities, such as OI, or LH. However, we have a new director who says that No Child Left Behind prohibits putting a child in a class where the credential is not the same as the child’s diagnosis.

I believe that NCLB mandates that I teach a class that matches my credential (as well as be highly qualified), but that the IEP team can decide to place a child in whatever class is appropriate for him. Could you address this issue, as well as how NCLB and IDEA relate?

Thank you!

NCLB requires special education teachers to be highly qualified and to have content area knowledge in the areas they are teaching, e.g. if teaching social studies, must know social studies. Programs, services and placements under IDEA, however, are NOT supposed to be driven by labels, but rather are supposed to be driven by individual need. Your director appears to be overly rigid in her interpretation of NCLB vs. IDEA.

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