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Dictionary.com defines the letter of the law as its "precise wording"—as opposed to its "spirit or intent." Sometimes a dictate's wording is imprecise—inviting exactly the sort of "letter"-versus-"spirit" conflict around which the following scenario revolves.

On the Double

Susan is an independent contractor who provides early intervention and school-based physical therapist services. Her schedule is near capacity when she is approached by Judy, director of the Child Study Team for the Fairview School District. Susan says she has only 1 bloc open in her schedule—Tuesday morning. Judy, noting that the small district has few students requiring the types of services Susan provides, responds, "That's perfect." In fact, Judy adds, the reason the school system's previous PT left, and the reason why a temp service didn't work out, was because Fairview couldn't provide enough part-time work for most people's taste.

Susan is surprised, therefore, when she arrives at the Fairview Board of Education office early on a subsequent Tuesday morning and is handed 3 files. Susan has no issue with the first 2 files, each of which profiles an elementary school student whose physical therapy needs can be met within a single session each week. The child profiled in the third file, however—who is new to the school district—is a preschooler, aged 3 years and 4 months, whose individualized education program (IEP) calls for him to receive 2 30-minute physical therapy sessions per week.

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