It can be confusing and intimidating when you walk into a room of school staff members, most of whom you do not recognize, to discuss concerns you have for your child. Here is a run down of the titles and roles of different school staff members in the process.
Parent/Guardian - that's you! Your job is to advocate for your child. No one knows them as well as you do. Do not be afraid to say what you think, even if it's different from what you hear from the team.
District Representative - this is usually the building principal or an assistant principal. If your child has a particularly involved case, a specialized placement, the building administrators are fully booked, or there is anticipated disagreement among team members, it may be a Special Education Coordinator/Supervisor or Director. This person has the ultimate decision-making power for students in regards to what services they qualify for and their educational placement.
School Psychologist - In Ohio, the primary role of the School Psychologist is to administer, score, interpret, and present results of psychoeducational evaluations. They usually lead the meeting following the evaluation and guide the team in discussion of eligibility for services. Eligibility is a team decision, but the District Representative has the final say in any cases of disagreement. The School Psychologist compiles the Evaluation Team Report (ETR). You may also see the School Psychologist involved in the RTI/IAT/MTSS process in varying degrees. Some attend all of the meetings, some only appear when interventions have not been successful and the team is thinking an evaluation would be appropriate.
Intervention Specialist - these are teachers with a special certification to work with children who are identified as students with disabilities. When a student qualifies for an IEP, they will be assigned a Case Manager, who is an Intervention Specialist, to monitor their progress. The Intervention Specialist writes and presents the IEP to the team and sends home quarterly progress reports on IEP goals. In elementary grades, Intervention Specialists often pull students out of the classroom individually or in small groups to work on their IEP goals. In higher grades, Intervention Specialists often co-teach classes with a General Education teacher. They may also sometimes teach small group, direct instruction courses, or lead supported "free" periods where they help students stay organized with their assignments, study for tests, etc. Intervention Specialists also commonly participate on the building RTI/IAT/MTSS team.
General Education Teacher - this is your child's primary teacher(s). In elementary in particular, they probably know your child better than any other school staff member. Therefore, it is crucial that their input be included in any intervention planning, IEP planning, or evaluation. They will typically provide information regarding academic benchmarks, progress compared to peers, and classroom based evaluations.
Speech/Language Pathologist - these folks are experts in speech and language development. They provide assessment and therapy in schools. Most of the children they serve are on IEPs, but their services can be included on an intervention plan or 504 plan as well.
Occupational Therapist - these folks are experts in fine motor development and sensory processing. They provide assessment and therapy in schools. Most of the children they serve are on IEPs, but their services can be included on an intervention plan or 504 plan as well.
Adaptive Physical Education Teacher - these folks work with students with physical handicaps who cannot participate in a traditional physical education class. They provide assessment and therapy in schools. An IEP is generally required to access their services.
Physical Therapist - these folks work with students who have difficulty with mobility in the school setting. They provide assessment and therapy in schools. Most of the children they serve are on IEPs, but their services can be included on an intervention plan or 504 plan as well.
School Nurse - you will see School Nurses participate in evaluations primarily to perform vision and hearing screenings. If your child has a medical condition that requires the IEP/504/Intervention plan, they may also be involved in crafting the plan.