When Supervisor and Supervisee Disagree

Ethics Roundtable: Case Study

Case Submitted by Crystal S. Cooper

David is a bright eight-year old student enrolled in third grade in a public school. He has received classroom-based speech-language services for a severe phonological disorder and mild-moderate disfluencies since kindergarten. His phonological disorder has improved significantly, however, his disfluencies have increased. During the past three months,

David has refused to answer questions in class, and on one occasion burst into tears while presenting an oral report in front of his class. David told his speech-language pathologist, Ms. McCoy, that he is embarrassed by his stuttering and that some of his classmates laugh and tease him about his speech.

David is re-evaluated to determine his continued eligibility for services.

Ms. McCoy recommends continued speech therapy with classroom intervention and adds a direct pull-out component to therapy in order to address the affective and cognitive components of his stuttering syndrome. David, she believes, would be embarrassed by discussing his feelings if his classmates were present.

Ms. McCoy sends her report to her supervisor, who distributes the report to the Eligibility Team. At the eligibility meeting, Ms. McCoy notices that her recommendation for pull-out therapy has been omitted. When she raises her recommendation, her supervisor replies "in an ideal world" the recommendation would be accepted, but the school system has determined that pull-out therapy is not cost-effective and is not an option given the current financial climate. Ms. McCoy is gently reminded that she is up for tenure review this year.

At the Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting, David's parents express concern about his worsening stuttering and its effect on his academic and social skills. The supervisor takes the lead during the meeting and does not inform the parents that there are other service delivery options. Ms. McCoy signs the IEP, which includes in-class intervention only. When asked about the case, she replies, "I did my job by informing my supervisor of my recommendations."

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