With an emphasis on providing opportunities for special education students to learn and grow with their peers, our team designs instructional strategies and recommends related services as part of an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for each student who qualifies for special education services. These IEPs are designed around our commitment to provide a continuum of services that allows students the opportunity to access the general curriculum in the least restrictive environment. Our services are designed in alignment with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004) and state law (Chapter 14) and are provided at no cost to students who qualify.
From kindergarten through graduation, our team prescribes individualized services and instruction to meet the unique learning strengths and needs of each student. Our plans focus on academics as well as therapeutic needs to help students overcome their difficulties in varied areas of development.
Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), children qualify for special education and related services if they have one or more of the following disabilities and, as a result, demonstrate a need for special education and related services:
- Emotional disturbance
- Hearing impairment
- Mental retardation
- Multiple disabilities
- Orthopedic impairment
- Other health impairment
- Specific learning disability
- Speech and language impairment
- Traumatic brain injury
- Vision impairment, including blindness
We conduct ongoing Child-Find activities for the purpose of locating, identifying, and evaluating school-aged students with potential signs of developmental delay and other risk factors that could indicate specific needs of a student who may require special programs or services.
Additionally, parents and teachers who suspect a child may need services can make a referral to the Instructional Support Team (IST) to explore regular education supports and classroom modifications. Multi-disciplinary evaluations (MDE) follow for those not making sufficient progress with IST supports. Parents can also directly request an MDE regardless of whether their child attends public, private, or parochial school.
A multi-disciplinary evaluation (MDE) consists of information provided by parents and school personnel, classroom observations, a review of records from school or outside agencies or providers and assessments by specialists when appropriate (e.g. school psychologist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, speech and language therapist, behavior specialist, consulting psychiatrist). The results are summarized in an Evaluation Report (ER) which discusses eligibility, need and recommendations for specially-designed instruction and related services. The report must be completed in 60 calendar days. An initial evaluation cannot begin without written parental consent.
If the students is found to be eligible and in need of specially-designed instructional strategies through the evaluation process, an IEP meeting is held with team members (parents, school personnel, specialists) to develop the Individual Education Plan. The IEP team determines the instructional program, goals, objectives, related services, supports for school personnel and specially-designed instruction to meet the needs of the student. The team must convene in no less than 10 school days and no more than 20 school days from the date of the ER. Parents can opt to meet as soon as they wish after receipt of the ER by signing a waiver with the district.
Once the initial IEP has been developed in cooperation with the parents, a Notice of Recommended Educational Placement (NOREP) is presented to the parents for their signature. If the parent approves the NOREP, the child will begin to receive special education services.
IEPs must be reviewed at least annually. This means that the team reconvenes to review the progress of the student on the IEP goals and objectives and makes necessary revisions. The re-evaluation process is tri-annual, except for students with mental retardation, in which case it is bi-annual. Teams can choose to conduct a review of records if no additional testing is deemed necessary.
Parents can request that an IEP be re-opened at any point during the life of the IEP if they feel changes are warranted. Parents can request a re-evaluation at any point in the 2 or 3 year cycle if they feel additional testing is necessary.
Parents have the right to recommend their child for special education evaluation, the right to know that their child was recommended for evaluation, and the right to withdraw their child from special education services.
Under IDEA, parents are offered the following rights when their children are offered special education services:
- To have your child receive a free, appropriate public education (FAPE)
- To be a member of the team that develops your child’s education program and to attend meetings about that program
- To understand every document you sign
- To know and understand your rights in the language you understand best
- To pursue other options if you disagree with your school
Learn by visiting the PA Department of Education's Parent Guide to Special Education for School-Age Children HERE.