Students With Specialized Support Needs

Students with Specialized Support Needs

The South Western School District has a responsibility to identify, locate and evaluate all students with disabilities, regardless of severity of their disabilities. This responsibility is often referred to as “Child Find.”

Annual Public Notice of Special Education Services and Programs, Services for Gifted Students, and Chapter 15/504 Services

Quick Links
Services and Accomodations via 504 Plans
Special Education Services
Students Who Are Gifted


Students With Disabilities
Services and Accomodations via 504 Plans

 

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Chapter 15 of the Pennsylvania School Code protect the rights of individuals with disabilities by ensuring that they are provided services and accommodations necessary for their participation in school activities including extracurricular activities.

Eligible students have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity and more specifically:

  • The student is of an age at which public education is offered in that school.
  • The student has a physical or mental disability that substantially limits or prohibits participation in or access to an aspect of the student’s school program.
  • The student is not eligible as defined by Chapter 14 (relating to special education services and programs).
  • The student is eligible for special education and related services, and is raising a claim of discrimination.

34 CFR § 104.3 (j) defines a handicapped person with rights under the Rehabilitation Act as any person who:

  • Has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities,
  • Has a record of such an impairment, or
  • Is regarded as having such an impairment.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, examples of disabilities under Section 504 include:

  • Student breaks their arm in 5 places and cannot write; the district provides someone to take notes or write the homework
  • Student is deaf and plays sports. The district provides an interpreter for the classroom and any school sports activities they are involved in
  • Student has cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, migraines, allergies or asthma; the student is allowed to obtain treatment or medication, as needed
  • Student uses a wheelchair; student is permitted to leave classes early to avoid hall traffic
  • Student is under a doctor's care for depression or anxiety, frequent behavioral problems, ADHD; the student is given additional time for completing assignments and allowed to sit in the front of the classroom

Students can be referred for Section 504 services by parent or teacher request. If you want your child to be evaluated for eligibility, please make a request for an evaluation for Section 504 services in writing to your child’s teacher, guidance counselor, or building administrator. If eligible, your child will receive a written service agreement designed to meet his/her needs.

 

Special Education Services
Overview

 
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is federal legislation that provides free appropriate public education (FAPE) to eligible students with disabilities. To be deemed eligible for special education services, a student must:

  • Meet the criteria of one of 13 disability categories defined by IDEA
    AND
  • Require specially designed instruction to receive educational benefit

The 13 disability categories defined by IDEA include:

  • Intellectual disability (updated in 2010 by Rosa’s Law to replace mental retardation)
  • Hearing impairment
  • Speech or language impairment,
  • Visual impairment (including blindness)
  • Emotional disturbance
  • Orthopedic impairment
  • Autism
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Other health impairment
  • Specific learning disability
  • Deafness
  • Deaf-blindness
  • Multiple disabilities

Learn more about IDEA here.

Evaluation and Special Education Services
Students in Pennsylvania are provided special education services in accordance with IDEA and Chapter 14 of Pennsylvania School Code. Students can be referred for evaluation for special education services by parents or teachers. If you want your child to be evaluated for special education services, please make a request to your child’s school, which can be directed to your child’s teacher, guidance counselor or building administrator. This Evaluation Request Form can be used for that purpose but the request can also be made verbally or in writing to a school professional.

The evaluation process begins after prior written consent for the evaluation is received from parents. The process can take 60 calendar days and results in an evaluation report (ER) outlining the specific evaluation results. This flow chart shows the general steps of the evaluation process. If deemed eligible for special education services, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) will be developed within 30 calendar days of the evaluation report. Prior to the provision of services and with any proposed change in identification, evaluation or placement, you will receive prior written notice in the form of a Notice of Recommended Educational Placement (NOREP).

After the initial identification of eligibility for special education services, IDEA and Chapter 14 of Pennsylvania School Code require re-evaluations and reevaluation reports (RR) every 3 years (or 2 years if a student has an intellectual disability). IEPs must be rewritten annually. Additional procedural timelines for special education processes and procedures can be found here.

IEP Team
The IEP team makes all educational decisions for a student eligible for special education services. The IEP team includes the parent, regular education teacher, special education teacher and local education agency (LEA) representative, and others as appropriate. Other team members might include the student, related service providers or someone capable of interpreting evaluation results, such as a psychologist.

Educational Placements

Educational placement decisions are made by the IEP team. The SWSD provides a continuum of special education placement options designed to educate eligible students in the least restrictive environment. The SWSD also partners with other educational service agencies to provide opportunities both within the school district and outside of the district to support more specialized needs. Some support and placement options include:

  • Regular education classes
  • Co-taught classes with regular and special education teachers
  • Special education supports and interventions
  • Special education replacement classes
    • Learning Support (K-12)
    • Emotional Support (K-12)
    • Therapeutic Emotional Support (3-5, in partnership with the Lincoln Intermediate Unit)
    • Autistic Support (K-12, in partnership with the Lincoln Intermediate Unit)
  • Out of district placements*
    • Therapeutic Emotional Support (K-12, in partnership with the Lincoln Intermediate Unit)
    • Life Skills Support (K-12, in partnership with the Lincoln Intermediate Unit and neighboring school districts)
    • Multiple Disabilities Support (K-12, in partnership with the Lincoln Intermediate Unit)
    • Dual diagnosis (K-12, in partnership with the Lincoln Intermediate Unit)
    • Behavior Intervention Programming (K-12, in partnership with the Lincoln Intermediate Unit, River Rock Academy, Hoffman Academy, and Yellow Breeches)
    • Transition Programming (Secondary students, in partnership with the Lincoln Intermediate Unit)
    • Additional placement options based on identified needs

*All students placed outside of the SWSD continue to be SWSD students who are supported by the SWSD district to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE). A local education agency (LEA) representative from the SWSD will attend all meetings as a member of the IEP team.

Parent Resources
Links to legislation, sample forms and resources are embedded in the information above. Additional parent resources can be accessed below. Please contact your child’s teacher, school counselor, building administrator or the district director of special education using the school district staff directory for assistance.


How are Section 504 services and special education similar and different?

  • Both support students with disabilities. Section 504 supports a broader range of disabilities than special education.
  • Section 504 has less specific identification criteria while students have to meet specific criteria to be eligible for special education services.
  • 504 plans are supported and implemented in general education. Special education services are managed by special education case managers but offered in general and/or special education.
  • Both services must be provided at district expense and at no cost to parents or students.
  • Section 504 plans are implemented via a written service agreement and special education services are described in individualized education programs (IEPs). 504 plans are developed at district discretion with typical components and IEPs are formatted at the state level with regulated components.

 

 

Students Who Are Gifted
Overview

 
Chapter 16 of the Pennsylvania School Code governs the special education of gifted students. Students are eligible for gifted education if they:

  • Are deemed “mentally gifted”
    AND
  • Require specially designed instruction

Students are deemed “mentally gifted” with an IQ of 130 or higher or with an IQ of 130 or lower if other educational criteria in the student's profile strongly indicate gifted ability. IQ may not be the sole criteria for identifying a student as gifted.

Chapter 16 of the Pennsylvania School Code includes the term “multiple criteria” in regard to identifying students as gifted. The multiple criteria indicating a student may be mentally gifted include:

  • A year or more above grade achievement level in one or more subjects as measured by nationally normed and validated achievement tests.
  • An observed or measured rate of acquisition/retention of new academic content or skills.
  • Demonstrated achievement, performance or expertise in one or more academic areas as evidenced by excellence of products, portfolio, or research, as well as criterion-referenced team judgment.
  • Early and measured use of high level thinking skills (Guilford/Bloom's Taxonomy), academic creativity, leadership skills, intense academic interest areas, communications skills, foreign language aptitude or technology expertise.
  • Documented, observed, validated or assessed evidence that intervening factors such as English as a second language, learning disability, physical impairment, emotional disability, gender or race bias, or socio/cultural deprivation are
    masking gifted abilities.

Evaluation and Gifted Education Services
Students in Pennsylvania are provided gifted education services in accordance with Chapter 16 of the Pennsylvania School Code. Students can be referred for evaluation for gifted education services by parents or teachers. If you want your child to be evaluated for gifted education services, please make a request to your child’s school, which can be directed to your child’s teacher, guidance counselor or building administrator. The request can be made verbally or in writing to a school professional.

The evaluation process begins after prior written consent for the evaluation is received from parents. The process can take 60 calendar days and results in a Gifted Written Report outlining the specific evaluation results. If deemed eligible for gifted education services, a Gifted Individualized Education Plan (GIEP) will be developed within 30 calendar days of the gifted written report. Prior to the provision of services and with any proposed change in identification, evaluation or placement, you will receive prior written notice in the form of a Notice of Recommended Assignment (NORA).

GIEP Team
The Gifted Individualized Education Program (GIEP) team makes educational decisions for a student eligible for gifted education services. The GIEP team includes at least the parent, gifted education teacher, regular education teacher, and local education agency (LEA) representative, and others as appropriate, such as the student.

Parent Resources

Links to regulations, sample forms and resources are embedded in the information above. Additional parent resources can be accessed below. Please contact your child’s teacher, school counselor, building administrator or the district director of special education using the school district staff directory for assistance.

 

The district has made every reasonable attempt to ensure that the district’s web pages are educationally sound and do not contain links to any questionable material or anything that can be deemed in violation of district policy. The accuracy and quality of information cannot be guaranteed. The district will not be responsible for any information that may be lost, damaged, or unavailable due to technical or other difficulties.
Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2021 Intrado Corporation. All rights reserved.