IEP Teams, and Direct and Indirect Services
By Karen Kockler
Published November 2023 in the ISHA Voice
Two questions have been asked recently:
- Can an SLP be the LEA representative at “speech only” IEP meetings?
- What activities constitute “Direct” services versus what may constitute “Indirect” services?
The answers to both of these questions will be provided in this article.
Who can act as the LEA?
According to the US Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), certain individuals must be involved in writing a child's Individualized Education Program. Depending on the student’s needs, these individuals should include:
- The parents
- The student (if appropriate)
- Aregular education teacher
- A “School System Representative” (a.k.a. LEA)
- Transition services representative (if/when appropriate)
- Special education teacher or service provider
- A person who can interpret evaluation results
- Any others with knowledge and/or special expertise about the student.
“Note that an IEP team member may fill more than one of the team positions if properly qualified and designated.” (https://www2.ed.gov/parents/needs/speced/iepguide/index.html#team) For example, the LEA representative may also be the person who can interpret the child's evaluation results or is a service provider. IDEA describes the composition of an IEP team for a child similarly. The Illinois Administrative Code (Section 226.210 IEP Team) also outlines the composition of the IEP Team for a child.
During a recent conversation with ISBE special education department staff, it was discussed whether or not SLPs can act as the LEA for “speech only” IEP meetings. The answer is that, as long as the SLP is able to make commitments on behalf of the district, it is possible. Per ISBE, the LEA does not necessarily have to be an administrator, but it should be someone able to make commitments on behalf of the district and ensure services will be provided. Our collective experiences have also taught us that each IEP meeting should include at least 3 different "disciplines"--parent, gen ed teacher, and the special ed/provider. For “speech only” IEPs, the SLP is the person who can interpret evaluations, can act as the special education teacher, and can also act as the LEA. In cases where more than SLP services are required, and/or in the case of needing expensive devices/programs, SLPs should invite someone else who can authorize such expenditures for the district to be the LEA; most likely, such a meeting would not be “speech only”.
DIRECT and INDIRECT SERVICES
DIRECT special education services, generally speaking and accepted, are those services provided by special education teachers and School Support Personnel to students, face-to-face, directly. Each IEP team determines the services needed, and the frequency, intensity, and duration of each service deemed necessary. All of these services should be specified in detail in the IEP. There is little confusion about what constitutes direct services.
INDIRECT services, on the other hand, are less understood, and perhaps not as well-defined in student IEPs. I suggest further, that there are two different categories of indirect services—those that are necessary to include in the IEP (i.e. provided specifically on behalf of a student), and those that are required by the service provider in order to fulfill the responsibilities of their roles. Both types of indirect services, by nature, provide descriptions that contribute to the workloads of service providers. So, how do we document these services?
The following points also come from US Department of Education/OSEP:
- Special education and related services. The IEP must list the special education and related services to be provided to the child or on behalf of the child. This includes supplementary aids and services that the child needs. It also includes modifications (changes) to the program or supports for school personnel—such as training or professional development—that will be provided to assist the child.
- Dates and places. The IEP must state when services will begin, how often they will be provided, where they will be provided, and how long they will last.
According to ASHA’s guidance, indirect services may include:
- Instructional material creation, analysis, adaptations or modifications
- AAC device programming and instruction to others
- Team or IEP meeting participation
- Student progress monitoring via data checks or observations
- Participating in team or IEP meetings
- Collection of baseline data or conducting assessments
- Intervention planning
- Teacher, family, or other SISP collaborations
FROM ISBE: “A student may require direct, consult, or both. It is important for SLPs to include any indirect/consult time in the IEP to justify their workload. It may just be 15 minutes per week or 20 minutes per month, but whatever amount of time is appropriate for the student in need should be documented. Some may not require any consult services; others may require only consult services. It still needs to be LRE and individually based upon the student’s needs.”
If we want to justify our workloads, we have to be better about how we document those services in IEPs. We also have to provide documentation for all of those other “indirect” services that reflect our total workloads. Both can, and should, be done by completing workload analysis.
The Illinois Administrative Code Section 226.735 Workload for Special Educators specifies the following workload activities to be analyzed and should include but are not limited to:
1) Individualized instruction
2) Consultative services and other collaboration among staff members
3) Attendance at IEP meetings and other staff conferences
4) Paperwork and reporting
ISHA’s Illinois Speech Language Pathology Guide: Eligibility and Workload Analysis is designed to document and analyze all direct and indirect services required by IEPs per this Code. This chart, created by Karen Kockler, lists what may be considered indirect services–those that can and should be documented in IEPs, and those that help to describe your workloads.
INDIRECT SERVICES to be included in the IEP
INDIRECT SERVICES that add to Workload
(def) those services provided on behalf of a student in order to access FAPE successfully.
(def) those services for which a service provider is responsible to fulfill all aspects of his/her role.
“Analyzing”, a.k.a. progress monitoring, data collection, observations, gathering baseline information
writing progress reports, evaluation/re-evaluation reports
Completing evaluations, re-evaluations;
Domain reviews must also specify area(s) to be evaluated. “Speech evaluation” is not clear enough. Include amount of time needed to complete an evaluation.
planning therapy/intervention sessions (done during contractual PLAN time)
Adapting, modifying, or creating specialized instructional materials and/or home programs; developing social stories
Case management responsibilities (if CM), or record-keeping
Consultation, training sessions with teachers & support staff, collaborating with teachers, parents, other SSP
Scheduling consultations, training sessions
Attendance at Team and/or IEP meetings,
Travel time for itinerant services
Communications with parents/outside agencies
Scheduling student availability for therapy/evaluations with teacher
Managing/programming AAC/AT devices
Supervision of CF/SLPA
Behavioral factors, writing BIP with team
In recording service + frequency + intensity + duration + location in an IEP, we need to be careful WHERE we document these indirect services. These can be recorded under “Related Services”, though we need to be careful that the numbers we enter do not cause a change in the calculation for the recommended placement/setting. This is especially true when utilizing online IEP systems that automatically calculate percentage in/out of general education placement. The indirect services can also be documented under the “Supplementary Aids, Accommodations and/or Modifications” section of the IEP, and/or in “Additional Comments”. This caution comes from ISBE’s Special Education department. In other words, be specific, but be careful!
Being more specific in what we include in IEPs as appropriate and necessary to provide FAPE to students will help to clarify issues related to workload and advocacy. The focus, of course, should always be what is best for students and their educational success; this includes whether or not we are able to practice “at the top of our license”!
Karen serves as ASHA’s State Education Advocacy Leader (SEAL) for Illinois, and is a member of the School Affairs and Legs & Regs Committees.