Paraprofessionals, including one-on-one paras, are entitled to a duty-free lunch period. Special Circular 6R, which is part of the UFT-DOE contract, established that lunchroom supervision may not be assigned to paras. Schools have other school-based personnel, including school aides and supervising school aides, who can be assigned this responsibility.
A child’s Individualized Education Program can mandate paraprofessional coverage at lunch for that child, but the IEP cannot, and does not, specify a specific person to perform that role. If a para is asked to be with a child during the child’s lunch, that para must still have a duty-free lunch period at some other point in the day. (If a para is unsure about the requirements of a child’s IEP, the para should ask to see the IEP. State law requires that paraprofessionals have access to the IEPs of students in their care.)
If a supervisor asks a para to supervise the lunchroom or does not provide a duty-free lunch period for a para, the para should inform the school’s chapter leader and para representative. The chapter leader will speak with the administration to try to resolve the issue. If the situation is not rectified, the paraprofessional should ask the chapter leader to file a grievance on behalf of the para.