Special Education is based on individuals who need programs, services, accommodations and modifications to access the general education curriculum. State guidance set the priority for the continuity of learning, special education programming and services with access to general education and curriculum that is specially designed to meet individual students’ needs and abilities. The provision of special education programming and services will have in person components and remote components. Because IEPs are built around individual students, there are priority practices staff of the District will initiate to meet those obligations of the individual plans. The guidance provided by the New York State Education Department (NYSED) on “Recovering, Rebuilding, and Renewing: The Spirit of New York’s Schools” includes the following:
- Address the provision of free appropriate public education (FAPE) consistent with the need to protect the health and safety of students with disabilities and those providing special education services.
- Process for documenting the programs and services offered and provided to students with disabilities as well as communications with parents. Engage parents in meaningful conversation, in the parent’s preferred language or mode of communication regarding the provision of services to his/her child to meet the requirements of the IDEA.
- Plan for collaboration between the committees on preschool special education (CPSE) and committees on special education (CSE) and program providers for District students served in out-of-district programs or contracted related services to ensure there is an understanding of the provision of services consistent with the recommendations on individualized education programs (IEPs), plans for monitoring and communicating student progress, and commitment to sharing resources.
- Ensure student access to the necessary accommodations, modifications, supplementary aides and services and technology (including assistive technology) to meet the unique disability related needs of students.
Priority Practices of the District:
In order to offer the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the lease restrictive environment (LRE), that is also consistent with the need to protect the health and safety of students with disabilities and those providing the special education and services, the District will provide the following:
- A healthy work and learning environment through the upholding of DOH/CDC health and safety protocols for students and staff to follow.
- In-person and remote instruction for the provision of IDEA programming:
- Students whose IEPs indicate programming of a 12:1:1 or 15:1:1 class will attend in person 4 days a week with 1 day remote.
- Students whose IEPs indicate Consultant Teacher Direct or Resource Room programming will follow the District’s hybrid schedule with scheduled access to special education instruction as per the IEP; in-person and remotely according to hybrid schedule.
- Teachers will create office hours/class for students to receive small group or individual assistance on remote instruction days.
- In case of a full closure, the remote model will provide opportunities for students to learn through live video at the same time as all other students (synchronous) or at flexible times chosen by the family to allow the student to work at their own pace (asynchronous).
- In-person and remote instruction for the provision of IDEA related services:
- Students who have related services will have a combination of in-person and remote instruction. Those who were successful in the spring 2020 closure with remote learning for related services will maintain this remote instruction.
- Related services, that do not require specific equipment and have naturally occurred in classrooms in the past, will be pushed into classrooms during in person as much as possible to ensure access to the service, safety of student and staff and when applicable, a larger space for physical distancing.
- Related service areas in which there is a chance of shared materials will be thoroughly cleaned between students. A specific cleaning protocol with documentation of time it was completed is kept at the District level. Due to this, additional staff members (aides/TAs) are required to escort students to services that are in person.
In order to progress monitor students and offer information to parents about such progress, the District staff will document the programs and services offered and provided to students with disabilities. Documentation will include:
- Analysis of classwork completion
- Continuation of the diagnostic assessment and progress monitoring platforms such as iReady, Fastbridge, running records, IRLA, etc.
- Continuation of reevaluation testing required for students on at least a triennial basis.
- Use of Frontline (IEP Direct) progress notes and monitoring tools including specific attention to the schedule and frequency (quarterly or once a trimester) of each student’s IEP.
- Analysis of services provided and participation in activities in-person versus remote days; and identification of additional interventions and services.
- Provide professional development for teachers or related services on progress monitoring with a variety of screening tools and especially in utilizing parent input as a progress monitoring tool.
In order to meet the requirements of IDEA and address meaningful parent engagement in the parent’s preferred language or mode of communication regarding the provision of services to his/her child, the District will:
- Communicate a plan for the clarity and continuation of learning expectations. Concerns from any of the parties around the implementation of the plans for the student should be brought to the attention of the parent, special education teacher case manager, administration, including the Director of Special Programs & Services (CSE office).
- Ask parents for their preferred method for communication: phone, e-mail, communication book or postal mail.
- Maintain regular communication with parents (weekly or bi/weekly), regarding individual students. This is to be completed by the special education case manager and/or related service provider in the parents preferred communication method.
- Continue to conduct all CPSE and CSE initial, requested reviews, annual review, manifestation, and reevaluation meetings that may be needed remotely and within the legal parameters of state and federal guidance. This is to keep the density of people on campus at a minimum.
- Provide parental support or training on the primary technology tools being used to support learning in person or on remote days.
In order to provide collaboration and the sharing of resources between the committees on preschool special education (CPSE) and committees on special education (CSE) and program providers working with students in the District or in the variety of settings where students are served outside of the District, the District is committed to:
- Initiate open forum hours for the Director and parents.
- Initiate open forum hours for the Director and staff implementing IEPS at the District or other placements outside of the district boundaries.
- Reinitiate open forum hours for the Director, pertinent related service staff, and preschool or daycare agencies in the community. This is to assist the district in providing the community agencies with professional development on how to document and monitor their pre-referral strategies to the CPSE and a community effort to identify students in need of programming or services before entering the school-age/CSE program at kindergarten.
- Provide learning plans and student transportation to those sites whose IEP states programming outside of the district. The continued monitoring of the provision of services consistent with the recommendations on IEPs for programming, services, accommodations and modifications will be done regularly. The communication to parents of student progress will happen according to the schedule and frequency noted on the IEP.
In order to ensure students, have access to the necessary accommodations, modifications, supplementary aids and services, and technology (including assistive technology) to meet his or her disability related needs the District will:
- Plan team meetings for teachers (general and special) as well as related service staff to build consistency of expectations, due dates, and identify curriculum that will need to be specially designed to meet individual student needs. The role of the special and general education teacher is to be ready to provide specially designed instruction (SDI) to those students with disabilities in the class. Examples include: Making sure the material is accessible in multiple formats, can be accessed on other device readers, paired with graphic organizers or visuals, include shortened vocabulary expectations or extended work deadlines and/or extended guided notes.
- Maximize staff to ensure student access to accommodations, modifications, supplementary aides and technology occurs.
- Initiate building level brainstorm sessions impromptu conferences regarding concerns. Ensure parents, student (if at an appropriate age), staff and administration are participating in this brainstorm session.
- Complete an analysis of actual student use of the necessary accommodations, modifications, supplementary aids, and technology access when services where provided and what participation level the student was at in the in person and remote educational settings.
- Continue the monitoring of identified accommodations and modifications provided to students according to their section 504 plan or IEP.