Freeport Area School District Annual Public Notice of Special Education Services
and Program Services for School Age Children with Disabilities
It is the responsibility of the Pennsylvania Department of Education to insure that all children with disabilities residing in the Commonwealth (including children with disabilities attending private schools, regardless of the severity of their disabilities), and who are in need of special education or related services, are identified, located, and evaluated. This responsibility is required by a federal law called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Amendments of 1997 (IDEA '97).
Freeport Area School District provides a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to children with disabilities who need special education and related services.Pennsylvania has adopted state laws, which conform to IDEA ‘97 and which school districts must follow. FAPE is provided to students who need specially designed instruction and have one or more of the following physical or mental disabilities:
- Emotional Disturbance
- Hearing Impairment
- Intellectual Disabilities
- Multiple Disabilities
- Orthopedic Impairment
- Other Health Impairment
- Specific Learning Disability
- Speech or Language Impairment
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Visual Impairment including Blindness
The IDEA ’97 also requires the provision of Free Appropriate Public Education to children with disabilities between 3 years of age and the district’s age of beginners. In Pennsylvania, a child between three years of age and the school district’s age of beginners who has a developmental delay or one or more of the physical or mental disabilities listed above may be identified as an “eligible young child.”
Eligible young children are afforded the rights of school-age children with disabilities, including screening, evaluation, individualized education program planning, and provision of appropriate programs and services. The Pennsylvania Department of Education is responsible for providing programs and services to eligible young children under Act 212 of 1990, The Early Intervention Services System Act. The ARIN Intermediate Unit provides programs and services to eligible young children on behalf of the Pennsylvania Department of Education. For more information, contact the ARIN Early Intervention Service Coordinator at (724) 463-5300, ext. 216.
Screening and Evaluation
Screening and evaluation procedures that emphasize intervening early and often identify students who may have a disability and need specially designed instruction. The Freeport Area School District utilizes the Response to Intervention and Instruction (RtII) multi-tier models of service delivery that ensures that all students receive high-quality instruction and interventions with increasing intensity of services matched to the current level of student need.
At Tier I, grade-level teams of teachers systematically review data from all students such as grades, end of theme reading assessments, and the results of the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS), Developmental Reading Assessments (DRA), 4Sight Benchmark and Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) test results, for example, to make educational decisions about changes in instruction or goals. Some students may be referred to the Tier II Child Study Team which is a problem-solving team that uses academic and behavioral assessments to identify why students are not mastering the required skills at the same pace as their peers. The Child Study Team identifies specific skills that need developed and then select research-based, scientifically validated interventions to address the need. At this level, targeted instruction and additional practice time aim to accelerate learning. Students are monitored for progress frequently to measure their response to intervention so that instruction and interventions may be adjusted when necessary.
Students whose needs extend beyond what may be successfully provided for within the general education core curriculum with supplemental programs may be referred by the Child Study Team for a multidisciplinary evaluation for consideration of special education services and more intensive interventions including specially designed instruction (Tier III).
The extent of special education services and the location for the delivery of such services are determined by the IEP team and are based on the student’s identified needs and abilities, chronological age and the level of intensity of the specified intervention.
Parents who suspect their child has a disability may request a multidisciplinary evaluation of their child at any time through written request to the school principal or the Office of Special Education. Services for school-age students with disabilities include the annual development of an Individualized Education Program (IEP) plan. The extent of special education services (Itinerant: 20 percent or less, Supplemental: less than 80 percent but more than 20 percent, and Full Time: more than 80 percent) and the location for the delivery of such services are determined by the IEP team and are based on the student’s needs.
Parents are encouraged to contribute during the evaluation and individual planning of their child’s educational program. There are signs of developmental delays and other risk factors that parents can look for that could indicate their child has a disability. More importantly, there are also strategies and resources that can help. To learn more about the early signs of developmental delays and learning disabilities, please contact the Special Services Coordinator at (724) 353-9577, ext. 4597.
EvaluationWhen screening indicates that a child may be a child with disabilities, the Freeport Area School District will seek parental consent to conduct an evaluation. “Evaluation” means procedures used in the determination of whether a child has a disability and the nature and extent of the special education and related services that the child needs. The term means procedures used selectively with an individual child and is not limited to tests administered to or procedures used with all children.
In Pennsylvania, this evaluation is conducted by a group of qualified professionals and the parent. The group of qualified professionals shall include a certified school psychologist when evaluating a child with autism, emotional disturbance, intellectual disabilities, multiple disabilities, other health impairments, specific learning disability, or traumatic brain injury. The evaluation process must be completed no later than sixty school days after the district receives written parental consent and must include “protection-in-evaluation procedures” (for example, tests and procedures used as part of the multidisciplinary evaluation process may not be racially or culturally biased). Upon completion of the administration of tests and the collection of other evaluation materials, a group of qualified professionals and the parent of the child will determine whether the child is a child with disability and what the educational needs are of the child. Information obtained from a variety of sources, including aptitude and achievement tests, parent input, teacher recommendations, physical condition, social or cultural background, and adaptive behavior will be documented and considered carefully. If a determination is made that a child has a disability and needs special education and related services, an individualized education program (IEP) must be developed for the child.
Parents who think their child has a disability may request, at any time, that the school district conduct a multidisciplinary evaluation. This request should be made in writing to the building principal or the special services coordinator. If a parent makes an oral request for a multidisciplinary evaluation, the school district shall provide the parent with a form for a written request.
Parents also have the right to obtain an independent educational evaluation, if they disagree with the school district’s evaluation. Freeport Area School District will provide to parents, on request, information about where an independent educational evaluation may be obtained.
An Individualized Education Program (IEP) describes the child’s present levels of educational performance, including how the child’s disability affects involvement and progress in the general curriculum; a statement of measurable annual goals, including benchmarks or short-term objectives, to enable the child to be involved and progress in the general curriculum; a statement of special education related services and supplementary services to be provided to the child; an explanation of the extent to which the child will not participate with non-disabled children in the regular class; any modifications in the administration of assessments; the projected date for beginning services and modification; and, how progress toward annual goals will be measured. For each child with a disability, beginning at age fourteen or younger, a statement of transition service needs will be included. For each child, beginning at age sixteen, a statement of need for transition services for the student, including as appropriate, and a statement of interagency responsibilities or needed linkages will be included.
In determining student placement, consideration will be given to ensure that to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities are educated with children who are nondisabled. Classes and services that involve removal of children with disabilities from the regular environment will occur only if the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes, with the use of supplementary aids and services, cannot be achieved satisfactorily.
Services for Protected Handicapped Students
Students who are not eligible to receive special education programs and services may qualify as protected handicapped students and, therefore, be protected by other federal and state laws intended to prevent discrimination. The school District must insure that protected handicapped students have an equal opportunity to participate in the school program and extracurricular activities to the maximum extent appropriate for the individual student.
In compliance with state and federal law, the school district will provide to each protected handicapped student, without discrimination or cost to the student or family, those related aids, services or accommodation which are needed to provide equal opportunity to participate in and obtain the benefits of the school program and extracurricular activities, to the maximum extent appropriate to the student’s abilities. In order to qualify as a protected handicapped student, the child must be of school-age with a physical or mental disability which substantially limits or prohibits participation in, or access to, an aspect of the school program.
These services and protections for “protected handicapped students” may be distinct from those applicable to disabled or thought-to-be disabled students. The school district or the parent may initiate an evaluation if it is believed a student is a protected handicap student.
For further information on the evaluation procedures and provision of services for protected handicapped students, parents should call the building principal. (Please note that this is a regular education service and not one required by IDEA ’97 or Chapter 14.)
Services for Students Who are Gifted
Freeport Area School District also utilizes a system to locate and identify all students within the district who are thought to be gifted, in need of specially designed instruction receive a GIEP. For more information, please contact the building principal or the Special Services Coordinator at (724) 353-9577, ext. 4597.
Each school district protects the confidentiality of personally identifiable information regarding children with disabilities, children thought to have disabilities, protected handicapped students (if not protected by IDEA ’97 or Pennsylvania’s Special Education Regulations) and children who are identified as gifted, in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) and other applicable federal and state laws, policies, and regulations. For more information on FERPA, visit the U.S. Department of Education’s website at http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/index.html.
In accordance with 34 CFR § 300.624, please be advised of the following retention/destruction schedule for the Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment (PASA), Pennsyvania System of School Assessment (PSSA), and Keystone Exam related materials:
- PSSA, Keystone Exam, and PASA test booklets will be destroyed one year after student reports are delivered for the administration associated with the test booklets.
- PSSA and Keystone Exam answer booklets and PASA media recordings will be destroyed three years after completion of the assessment.
For additional information related to student records, the parent can refer to the FERPA at the following URL: http://www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/index.html.