Paraeducator Relationships with Parents of Students with Significant Disabilities

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This study examined the relationships between parents of students with significant disabilities and paraeducators who supported the students in inclusive educational settings to gain an understanding from several perspectives on the role paraeducator—parent relationships played in education of students with significant support needs. The study included the perspectives of parents, paraeducators, and teachers of students with significant support needs. We conducted in-depth interviews with 17 participants; 16 of them represented three program sites for students with significant support needs in the same district, and 1 was the district coordinator of programs for students with significant support needs. Results revealed five types of relationships between parents and paraeducators: close and personal friendship, routine limited interactions, routine extended interactions, tense relationship, and minimal relationship. Results indicated that it is important for paraeducators and parents to communicate because paraeducators spend more time with the students and gain insight into their academic and social behaviors. However, for paraeducator—parent relationships to be beneficial in the students' education, they must remain within the limits and boundaries established by the teacher.