What is the job description for a para-educator?
Are there any the requirements to be a para-educator? Yes. To be considered for a para-educator position in USD #261, one must be at least 18 years of age and have a high school diploma (or equivalent). Para-educators are also required to be “highly qualified” as mandated by the No Child Left Behind legislative act. An Associates Degree (or higher) from an accredited institution, or a minimum of 48 college hours meets the NCLB “Highly Qualified” criteria. Another method of attaining “Highly Qualified” status is by passing the Para-Pro Assessment, the Para-Educator Assessment, or the Work Keys Assessment. These are the only assessments recognized by the state of Kansas for “Highly Qualified” status.
If I don't have an Associates Degree, or 48 college hours, how do I go about taking one of these tests? If you are under consideration for a position, you may be asked to take the test prior to any official job offer. You may also be asked to take the test following your employment, based on the specific para-educator position listed. An appointment is scheduled with the Special Education Coordinator, who monitors the test and provides the feedback to the individual.
Which test would I be taking and what do I need to know? USD #261 uses the Para-Educator Learning Assessment, which is a general intelligence test, given on a computer. The test is made up of multi-choice questions and normally takes approximately an hour and a half complete. If an individual fails the test, it can be taken over. A pre-test study program is also available upon request. The test is scheduled with the Special Education department and taken at the Central Office.
What if I passed a similar test in another state, will their certificate count? Only the tests designated by the state of Kansas are accepted. School officials may elect to review a test passed in another state on a case by case basis.
If I apply for a para-educator job, do I automatically get an interview? USD #261 is an Equal Opportunity employer. We encourage anyone that meets the requirements for a para-educator to fill out an application. The directors, supervisors, and building principals review these applications throughout the year, and have the discretion to select and schedule interviews based on each candidate's qualifications for the position advertised.
What types of para-educator jobs are available in the school district? Basically, USD #261 has four educational departments that use para-educators. The Special Education department employs approximately eighty percent of all the paras in the school system and the Title One, the Regular education, ESL (English as a Second Language) and the Section 504 areas employ the other twenty percent.
Why does Special Education employ so many para-educators? The Special Education department regularly identifies students for special learning needs. Approximately 20% of all the students in USD #261 have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), which qualifies them for special education services. The IEP document outlines any special accommodations and educational needs for each student, which may include para-educator assistance. In many cases, para-educators are assigned as assistants to Special Education teachers and help instruct a variety of subjects and special needs students.
What do Title I para-educators do? Title I para-educators assist Title I teachers who work with students who are identified for additional help in the areas of math and reading. All Title para-educators are trained by the school district in specific instructional techniques, strategies, and procedures.
What might the Section 504 para-educators be required to do? A Section 504 para-educator assists those students who are identified for Section 504 needs. These students have learning difficulties, but do not qualify for special education. They have a document on file (similar to an IEP) that describes specific educational recommendations and accommodations.
What do Regular education paras do? Regular education para-educators assist classroom teachers, normally in the elementary setting, in a variety of classroom functions. They might work with several teachers in a school and assist in a variety of subjects.
Are para-educators eligible for other positions or jobs, such as coaching, sponsoring student activities, or taking tickets at a sporting event? Yes. These additional positions are determined by the administration and may require specialized certification.
Will I always be assigned to one building as a para-educator? It is possible that you may be transferred to another school or share your time in more than one school, contingent upon the needs of the school district.
Are para-educators involved with any student discipline? Para-educators may be placed in situations with students where disciplinary action is necessary. However, all paras work with their direct supervisor to outline corrective procedures and responsibilities. In some cases, para educators are required to complete “Mandt” training, a specialized restraint procedure for Special Education students. The cost of the training is covered by the school district.
What kind of vaccinations must I have if I am interested in being a para-educator? A TB (tuberculosis test) is required for employment in the school district, and in some cases a hepatitis vaccination may be necessary.
What other kinds of training or endorsements might I expect? In all cases, employees new to the district are required to view a Blood Born Pathogens video. A Certified Drivers License (CDL) may be required for some para-educators that transport students with special needs.
Will I be evaluated? Yes. All new classified employees get evaluated at least once, every year, for three years. Following the third year of employment in the school district, the employee is evaluated once, every three years, unless otherwise directed by the administration.
How many months do I work and how often do I get paid? With the exception of those para-educators who have additional jobs with the school district over the summer, such as a summer school para-educator, or having another job with the school district (grounds, custodial, or maintenance) all para-educators work from August through May of each school year. Every employee in the school district is paid on the 12th of each month.
What is KPERS? KPERS, or the Kansas Public Employee Retirement System, is the largest retirement foundation in the state of Kansas for public employees. KPERS is an automatic deduction from a school district employee's paycheck, and the school district matches the deduction with their own funds. To qualify for KPERS benefits, an employee must work at least 25 hours a week.
If I only work nine months a year, can I file for unemployment benefits for the other three months? No. Unless a para-educator chooses to end their employment with the school district, or is terminated, the state considers para-educators to be under “continuing employment” which means the school district plans on them returning to work for the next school year.
Does a para-educator get any paid days off? Yes. In addition to receiving annual leave (please refer to the Classified Handbook) para-educators are paid for several holidays including spring break and winter break.
How am I supposed to dress if I get a para-educator job in the school district? Clothing that is similarly worn by the teaching staff, which does not question the integrity of professionalism expected by the school district, is expected from all para-educators.