Special Services Overview
Every child has a right to a free, appropriate public education. Some children are exceptional and have disabilities, which make it difficult for them to learn in the regular public school program without special education services. The Department of Special Services ensures that all children with disabilities between the ages of 3 and 21 will have the appropriate programs of instruction and related services designed to meet their individual needs.
When recommended by a Planning and Placement Team (PPT), special education instruction and related services are provided to North Stonington students at all grade levels by certified and/or licensed professionals. Programs for special needs students are designed to encourage participation in the regular school program, wherever possible.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
Connecticut General Statues and the federal Individuals with Disabilities (IDEA) are laws that require the provision of special education and related services to eligible children with disabilities. These laws ensure that children with a disability have available to them a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE). Additionally, these laws give parents of children with disabilities the right to play an important role in their children’s education.
Procedural Safeguards Notice Required Under IDEA Part B:
Parent Notification of the Laws Relating to the Use of Seclusion and Restraint in the Public Schools:
A Parent’s Guide to Special Education in Connecticut
This document provides information for parents, guardians and other family members about laws, regulations, and policies affecting special education programs and services. These protections, rights and opportunities will best help students with disabilities reach their full potential when parents, families and schools work collaboratively. Setting high expectations for students and high standards for programs will provide the greatest opportunities for a successful adult life.
What is Special Education?
Connecticut State Statutes define special education as “special classes, programs, or services designed to meet the educational needs of exceptional children.” Exceptional children are those children who deviate either intellectually, physically, socially, or emotionally so markedly from normally expected growth and development patterns that they are or will be unable to progress effectively in a regular school program.
Special education is available to eligible children from age 3 until graduation or age 21. If a special education student turns 21 during the school year, special education will continue until the end of the school year.
A preschool child requiring special education and related services is entitled to a free, appropriate public education on and after the child’s 3rd birthday. Eligibility for special education is determined by a Planning and Placement Team (PPT) evaluation — the type and degree of exceptionality must be such that, without special education, it is unlikely that the child will be able to make satisfactory educational progress when reaching school age.
Teachers trained in special education provide instructional services to children with disabilities in the North Stonington Public Schools. The extent of a special education teacher’s involvement with a student with disabilities will vary, depending upon the student’s need for special instruction. The special education teacher and classroom teachers collaborate on the selection and modification of lessons and activities, which are designed to enhance student success in the regular classroom.
Special Education Services
North Stonington Public Schools provide a continuum of services and programs for children with disabilities based on their specifically identified needs. These programs will provide students with the opportunity to receive specialized instruction in basic academic courses from certified special education teachers in individual and small group instruction designed to supplement or reinforce the regular classroom curriculum.
Related services are offered to support a student’s special education program when necessary. They include: speech and language therapy, counseling, occupational therapy, physical therapy, assessment and evaluation, school health service, and homebound instruction.
Least Restrictive Environment
Connecticut General Statutes define a least restrictive environment as one which meets the needs of a child requiring special education — to the maximum extent possible — but which fully serves children not requiring any special education or related services. North Stonington Public Schools is committed to this concept, and to the importance of collaboration between staff and parents in order to maintain and enhance this type of environment.
Student Assistance Teams
Whenever possible, students’ needs are met in the regular education program. Students are referred for assessment and possible special education services only after the resources of the regular education program have been fully expended. The student assistance team is made up of staff members who meet weekly to review student concerns, plan strategies to assist students in the regular classroom, monitor student progress and, if necessary, refer for assessment of eligibility for special education. Concerns regarding individual students may be directed to the student assistance team by a parent(s) or staff member.
The Referral Process
Referrals usually come from a child’s teacher, parent or the child study team. Referrals can, however, be made from other sources such as a family physician. If there is evidence that special education services may be needed, a referral is made to a designated PPT. Before the PPT can proceed to gather information, evaluate the child, and recommend an appropriate program, parents must be informed that their child is being considered for special education, and the parent must give their written consent before evaluation and testing can begin. Information is obtained only with the knowledge and consent of the parents and is available to the parents. Parents will be provided with a written notice and an invitation to a PPT meeting at least five school days prior to the scheduled meeting date.
Parents may refuse to give consent for the assessment and placement. Parents may also revoke consent it is has already been given. Regulations governing special education provide specific time schedules during which the evaluation and placement procedures must be completed.
Planning and Placement Team
A school-level Planning and Placement Team (PPT) is a group of professional personnel assigned to a specific school. The PPT is responsible for determining whether a child is eligible for special education services, and for planning an Individualized Educational Program (IEP) for that child. PPT membership consists of a school administrator, a teacher, and a member of the Department of Special Services, parents, and other appropriate staff. Parents may invite other individuals who they believe can contribute to the decision-making process.
All children who receive special services must have a written IEP, which describes each child’s program. All IEPs are reviewed at least annually at a school-level PPT meeting.
Individualized Education Program
An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a written plan, developed by a PPT, which describes the educational program for special education services. All IEPs are reviewed annually.
The IEP includes: the child’s current levels of educational performance; special education and related services planned for the child; annual educational goals; short-term instructional objectives; special transportation requirements; the extent to which the child will participate in the regular school program; any modifications of the regular program which may be necessary; the amount of time to be scheduled for each part of the program; the date on which the program will begin; the criteria to determine if the goals are being achieved; and the exit criteria, which will determine when the special program is no longer appropriate.
CT State Department of Education IEP Manual and Forms (link to IEP Manual and Forms document) https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/SDE/Special-Education/IEP-Manual-REVISED-July-2019.pdf
The IEP Guide-Page by Page (link to IEP guide document) IEP Guide-Page by Page
In compliance with North Stonington Public School’s Board of Education policy and State and Federal regulations, the North Stonington Public School system strictly adheres to maintaining confidentiality of student records. Parents who wish to inspect their child’s records are invited to contact the Director of Special Services.