QUESTIONS REGARDING PARAEDUCATORS

Hiring

1. Who does what to hire a paraeducator?

The answer to this question varies by building and district. Ask questions to find out how your building principal/superintendent wants to handle the process in the district.

Ideally the hiring process is a joint venture between administration and the HPEC teacher. In some districts the complete process is handled through the superintendent’s office. In others, the process is handled through the principal’s office. In others, the special education teacher is primarily responsible with the principal involved before the final decision is made. 

Advertising is usually handled by the principal or superintendent’s office. HPEC follows local district policy and practices on advertising open positions. If a teacher needs the HPEC Central Office to place the ad, we are happy to help. Call Meri.

Reference checks need to be done at the local level. This means a local district administrator or the teacher should check references before offering the position.

Once the decision is made at the local level about who to hire, the HPEC Central Office is notified. Meri and Chrissie will help assure all paperwork is completed. Call anytime you have questions! The employment paperwork is available on the HPEC website, www.highplainsed.com. 

2. What should we ask and NOT ask during the interview?

You want to ask questions that help you determine who will be the best person for the position you have. At the same time, you want to ask questions that will help the applicant understand some of the job expectations. Sample questions are attached. By law, you can not ask questions about age, marital status, family circumstances (how many children, pregnant, live with spouse, etc.) stick with questions pertinent to the job. 

3. How much will a paraeducator be paid? 

The paraeducator salary schedule is the basis for paraeducator’s wages. We give year-for-year credit for other aide/paraeducator experience. We count hours on college transcripts and credit is given for all classes considered pertinent to the paraeducator position. Anyone with an education degree acting as a school psychologist secretary will be placed on the last column of the salary schedule. Routinely, we do not give credit for physical education classes and most religious classes. We give credit for documented staff development activities for other jobs. It usually is a good idea to share the salary schedule with the applicant and let them know we will review their transcripts. Some teachers/principals fax completed  HPEC application and transcripts so they can tell the applicant what the exact pay will be before the person agrees to take a job.

Staff Development and Training

4. How do I find time to train paraeducators during the year?

To help the paraeducator understand job responsibilities and how to work with students, many teachers have the paraeducator observe for a while. So the new paraeducator and teacher can have some time to talk, you may have to double up services for some students. Finding the time to train a paraeducator is the only way to assure students get the long-term quality services they need. 

5. Whose responsibility is it to assure paraeducators get the required number of staff development hours?

The paraeducator and the teacher are both responsible.

6. What options are there for paraeducators to get their staff development hours?

There’s a list of staff development options in the Parareducator Handbook. Paraeducators should have a two-hour orientation session dealing with job responsibilities, confidentiality, professionalism, building and classroom expectations, review of the Paraeducator Handbook, etc. Staff development provided by you or other HPEC staff about a topic always is an option for staff development. Staff development provided by districts, HPEC, and others in the area is usually available to paraeducators. Videos and discussion about them are also option.

7. What resources are available?

Many local districts have videos available for staff development. The HPEC media center has quite an extensive collection. To get maximum benefit from videos, teachers will want to provide discussion and help paraeducators make connections between services to students and the information in the video. Call Ellen to get information about available videos. The Infinitec website provides training modules for inservice hours. This may be accessed at http://myinfinitec.org with your supervisor's permission.

There should be paraeducator manuals with each interrelated teacher inventory. All of these manuals have identified activities to support their study and document staff development hours. A few years ago, ECSE teachers developed a training manual for EC paraeducators. SLPs have common information for paraeducator training.

8. Who can help provide staff development?

Any professional or paraeducator who has the knowledge can provide the training. For example, it is not uncommon for the speech pathologist to provide general training about language stimulation; the physical therapist or motor specialist about lifting and transfers; the occupational therapist about hand muscle development; the interrelated teacher about guided reading, Duolog Reading, behavior management; the school psychologist about behavior management, social-emotional development, etc. 

9. How do you determine how many hours a paraeducator needs?

Tier 1 Paraeducator: has worked as a Kansas special education para less than 3 years (within  the past three years) must complete 20 hours of in-service if employed 9 months during the school year. If working less than 9 months, 2 hours of inservice per month is required.

Tier II Paraeducator: has worked as a Kansas special education para for more than 3 years (including the past 3 years) must complete 10 hours of in-service if employed for 9 months. If working less than 9 months, 1 hour of inservice per month is required.

10. We wrote a Staff Development Plan at the beginning of the year but we’ve made changes. Do we have to send those changes to the HPEC Central Office?

Yes. Please send your Staff Development Plan within 30 days of employment (or at the beginning of employment for after August hires) and quarterly. If a paraeducator notifies you she is quitting, immediately determine if staff development hours are complete. Please be sure to send Staff Development Plan at that time.

11. How do we report staff development hours to the HPEC Central Office?

Please plan to send in documented staff development activities quarterly. We need ALL information no later than May 15. Teachers and paraeducators will receive staff development reports from the HPEC Central Office 3 times during the year or every nine (9) weeks. You may call and check staff development hours with Meri.

Summer staff development activities completed after May 15th should be included in your 1st Staff Development Plan of the school year. Summer staff development points will be counted for the next school year for continued employment. College hours documented through an official transcript prior to September 1st may be used for salary movement.

Services

12. I want my paraeducator to help with paperwork and data collection. Can she?

Yes. The majority of a paraeducator’s job must be instructional, which includes data collection. The paraeducator can help file, copy paperwork, help prepare for a staffing by collecting and completing routine information on the forms, help with the calls to set up staffings, etc. The professional is responsible for determining how best to utilize the support of a paraeducator. 

13. Is it okay for the professional to spend all of their time working on paperwork and having the paraeducator provide all of the student services?

No. Although there will be times the professional must work on paperwork while the paraeducator provides services, we believe the professional should be working directly with students at least 65% of the time. 

14. Is it okay for one student to receive all of his services from paraeducators?

No. The professional should rotate the services she provides so she is providing services to all students regularly. If a student receives all of his services in the regular classroom, the professional may be less involved with that student as long as the student is making adequate progress. The special education teacher should be in regular communication with the classroom teacher.

Management

15. One paraeducator misses a lot of school. What should I do?

Discuss the concern with the paraeducator. If improvement is not noted, an evaluation should be completed and concerns documented. A plan of assistance may be needed to help the paraeducator understand the importance of being at work.

16. Is it the teacher’s responsibility to assure timesheets are correct?

Yes. Any discrepancies should be discussed with the paraeducator. If agreement can not be reached, the supervising teacher should not sign the timesheet. The teacher should assure all leave days are accurately recorded and leave forms submitted.

17 . A paraeducator has told me she is quitting. What should I do?

First, ask for a letter of resignation stating the reason for resigning and last day of work. Send the letter and any outstanding staff development documentation to the HPEC Central Office along with their timesheet if necessary.

To replace the paraeducator, follow the procedures in your building (see the question under hiring).

 SAMPLE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

1. What experiences have you had working with children/students this age?

2. If a child is misbehaving, what do you do?

3. We work with some children who work very hard to learn tasks that are easy for others to learn. How will you help this child stay motivated?

4. Confidentiality is VERY important in this position. What would you do if someone asked you about one of the students with which you work?

5. Sometimes I will ask you to do an activity one way and you think it would work better another way. What will you do?

6. This is a paraeducator job description. Is there anything on here you can not do?

7. As you can see from the job description, diapering and lifting may be involved. Are you willing and able to do these things?

8. It is important that most all parent communications be between the teacher and the parent. What would you do if a parent asked you a question about their child or another child in the program?

9. Tell me about a disagreement you have had with another supervisor and how did you handle it?

10. You will be working with several professionals in helping provide services to some children/students. Each will want you to carryout plans as they ask. Tell me about a similar experience you have had.

11. When I call references, what will they tell me about you? Your work habits? Your reliability? 

12. If you were in the situation where you knew a co-worker wasn’t doing the job as the supervisor expects, what would you do? 

13. We work with students who have various levels of ability. Which students are you the most comfortable working with? Which would you not want to work with? (The answer should be I’ll work with them all, some may qualify by mentioning comfort level or need for training but be wary of the person who identifies a population they don’t think they could work with)

14. I have __ other paraeducators. How will you handle conflicts with one of them?

15. When you were in school there was probably a student that couldn’t do the work as well as other students. How do you think the teachers should have graded him?