Special Education

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Special Education
Schools and school districts are required to provide a Free Appropriate Public Education consistent with the need to protect the health and safety of students with disabilities and those providing special education and services; meaningful parental engagement regarding the provision of services to their child; collaboration between the Committee on Preschool Special Education/ Committee on Special Education (CPSE/CSE) and program providers representing the variety of settings where students are served; access to the necessary instructional and technological supports to meet the unique needs of students; and documentation of programs, services and communications with parents. Lakeland CSD considers in-person services a priority for high-needs students and preschool students with disabilities whenever possible and consider contingency plans developed by the CPSE/CSE to address remote learning needs in the event of intermittent or extended closures.

  • Special Education Students will be required, if their disability allows, to wear a mask that they are comfortable in, for the duration of the school day, with the exception of the circumstances articulated in the face covering section, and when their disability or services preclude its use (for example during a speech session)
  • Students whose disability does not allow them to wear a mask, in accordance with the ADA, must provide documentation from their Physician
  • Each student has their own desk wherever possible
  • Personnel in all rooms housing vulnerable learners, including Related Service Providers
  • For Students in the vulnerable learner group who can not reliably provide their own PPE, it should be provided for them
  • Any staff not comfortable supporting students in the vulnerable learner group should be allowed to opt-out with an appropriate replacement provided

Child Find
Lakeland CSD has a continuing obligation under IDEA to identify, locate, and evaluate all students who are in need of special education and related services. However, in doing so, we keep in mind the impact that school building closures may have had on all students. While we will endeavor to equitably and appropriately address any loss of skills or other adverse consequences that may be associated with the changes in which educational services were delivered during COVID-19 building closures, students should NOT be identified as having an educational disability solely because they have underperformed due to building closures, changes in the educational delivery model used by the district or other factors unrelated to whether the student has an educational disability. However, if the parent or district believes that the student may have an educational disability, the student should be referred to the CSE and the process set forth in Section 200.4(a) of the Commissioner’s Regulations should be followed. 

Staff training to support decision making around the requirement to disaggregate the various disability and non-disability factors contributing to a student’s educational needs will be provided so as to provide a path for the provision of supplemental educational services to non-disabled students as a means of avoiding unnecessary and inappropriate classifications under IDEA. 

Initial Evaluations and Reevaluations
School districts have not been offered relief from the traditional statutory and regulatory IDEA timelines for evaluating a student suspected of having a disability or for re-evaluating students previously determined to have an educational disability. Most districts have backlogs in initial evaluations and re-evaluations due to closure and initial social distancing regulations.  Addressing these backlogs is a major priority, as we have an obligation to identify students with disabilities.

Beginning with the end of the school 2019-2020 school year, the district moved to meet on all initial evaluations and determine though the CSE process if more evaluations were required, or if there was sufficient evidence to make a decision, the CSE did so and made recommendations based on the data available. Moving forward, initial backlogged evaluations and then delayed reevaluations will be recognized as first priorities for the district. Addressing these backlogs may require assistance from external evaluators, such as through BOCES, if existing staff are unable to keep up with current requirements of the Reopening Plan while at the same time conducting the outstanding evaluations in a timely fashion. Lakeland CSE will continue to follow all guidance published by NYSED’s Office of Special Education for conducting evaluations and re-evaluations during the COVID-19 pandemic to meet the applicable IDEA timelines.

As a part of our return to school, students may require additional assessment as a part of their reentry and re-acclimation. If, after a substantial period of time with poor response to services, or after parent referral, students may require additional assessments to determine the nature of their current functioning.

CSE Meetings and Parent Participation
IDEA permits parents and school districts to agree to use alternative means of meeting participation requirements, such as video conferences and telephone conferences. The use of video conference platforms to conduct CSE meetings has been one of the great successes during the COVID-19 building closure period, as it has enabled CSEs to regularly and effectively meet to conduct educational planning for students with educational disabilities in a safe and appropriate manner. 

Committee for Special Education Meetings
  • Both video and telephonic options will be supported to provide parents with the most options for connection to meetings.  
  • Parents will be provided with electronic versions of documents as well as mailed copies if they request them.  
  • In order to support a more sanitary process, we will be offering families the option to receive ONLY digitized copies of reports, meeting invitations, and etc.
  • Staff will be making themselves available for consultation via email, phone, and video options to support parents who are working with their children at home.

IEP Implementation
While school districts must ensure that, to the greatest extent possible, each student with an educational disability is provided with special education and related services, school districts will continue to have the same flexibility for delivery of IEP services until we are able to return to normal operating conditions. Although is it commonly understood that, during the 2020-2021 school year, school districts may not be able to provide all IEP services in the same mode and/or manner that they are described in the IEP or how they have typically been provided, we at Lakeland remain very concerned about student academic decline during this protracted period away from school and remain committed to creatively and vigorously providing to the greatest extent possible whatever services we can safely deliver. We are committed to providing, to the greatest extent possible, those services, accommodations, modifications, and programs on every student's IEP.

Compensatory Education
Given the fact that Lakeland has an ongoing obligation to offer FAPE (a free and appropriate public education) to our students with educational disabilities at a time when all IEP services could not be delivered consistent with state, federal and local guidance designed to protect health and safety, some students may have experienced a loss of skills related to the changes in the manner that IEP services were provided. We have endeavored to, in all cases, provide services above the requirements of the District COAI. For instance, students with disabilities received teletherapy services to support their related services therapies needs.

In those unusual cases where it is determined that services were not provided to the greatest extent possible, the CPSEs/CSEs will make an individualized determination as to whether what and how compensatory services are to be provided once schools reopen. In making these determinations, we will consider information as to how the student’s IEP was implemented, any factors that impeded the District’s ability to implement the IEP consistent with its continuity of instruction plan, and the extent to which the student benefitted from such services. Relevant data will include service logs, report cards, progress reports on IEP goals, assessments, input from parents or guardians and other data reflecting the student’s functioning levels. Consideration should also be given to how compensatory services will continue in the event that school closes again following reopening.

Documentation
Lakeland will continue to utilize provider service logs and teacher progress notes in order to support documentation of home-based or remote instruction and services that are provided to each student so that it may be communicated to the CPSE/CSE for consideration when making any individualized determinations of subsequent student needs, including transition services.

  1. Formative assessment and ongoing monitoring of student progress will be documented and maintained. That documentation will be made available to the CPSE/CSE and parents, in their preferred language electronically or in their preferred mode of communication. 

  2. We will be asking staff to maintain documented collaboration with parents to develop any contingency remote learning plans that may be implemented during a school closure.

  3. We will document the ongoing provision of compensatory services to individual students upon the reopening of schools. Documentation will then be available to parents, CPSE/CSE and other relevant parties, in their preferred language or mode of communication.

  4. Prior written notice is not required if instruction or related services continue to be provided remotely or through a hybrid model because remote learning and telepractice is considered an alternate mode of instructional delivery and not considered a change in the student’s educational placement. If, however, based on current circumstances, revisions or additions to a student’s IEP need be made to continue to meet the student’s needs while school is closed due to COVID-19, such changes must be made by the CPSE/CSE at a meeting or through a written agreement with the parent to amend the IEP without a meeting (with the expectation that parents must be provided a copy of the document amending the IEP and prior written notice of the proposed changes to the IEP).

Finally, although the Reopening Plan is divided into discrete sections, with Special Education being addressed in its own separate section, it is important to note that the Reopening Plan addresses several additional areas that implicate special education planning. By way of example, the Health and Safety portion of the Reopening Plan addresses the school’s role in educating and communicating with school communities about the everyday preventive actions that they can take to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 – regardless of whether instruction is provided in person, remotely or through some combination of the two. Moreover, the sections in the Reopening Plan addressing Transportation, Social-Emotional and Well-Being, School Schedules, Attendance and Chronic Absenteeism, Technology and Connectivity and Teaching and Learning all address areas of vital importance in the development and implementation of a safe and appropriate plan to address the needs of all students. Thus, in planning for the provision of special education supports to students with educational disabilities, care must be taken to review and consider the plan in its entirety.

We are committed to supporting all of our students who receive supportive services due to disabilities.  Questions about Special Education and other PPS Services including but not limited to counseling, nursing, and clinical support, should be directed to Dr. Steve Rappleyea, Assistant Superintendent for Pupil Personnel Services.

Special Considerations for Reopening during COVID-19 for Special Education Programs and Services
Given the needs of our students and the current conditions, we face under Covid-19 restrictions, planning for the educational services our disabled students will receive is a major priority for us as we chart a path to reentry. Our goal is to provide the greatest possible access to specially designed instruction to meet every disabled child’s needs while preserving teacher creative solutions, program integrity, and student dignity.

Lakeland CSD will commence a hybrid attendance program beginning on the 24th of September. Some students with significant disabilities have been in attendance since September 8th. These students will continue to attend. For some students, their program will expand from A-B attendance to attendance 4 days a week in all buildings. Some students will begin in four day a week attendance. You have one or more children in a special education program that is listed as reopening or expanding. Our goal continues to be to provide the greatest possible access to specially designed instruction to meet every disabled child’s needs while preserving teacher creative solutions, program integrity, and student dignity.

For High School  Life Skills, Strive, and ASPIRE students: (Updated 9/18)
Beginning September 8th, these students will be split into two cohorts. Both cohorts will attend on all in-person attendance days. Both cohorts will begin instruction at 7:20. Cohort A will attend programming at the Alternative building for the first two days while Cohort B attends programming at Lakeland High School. On the second round of two days, the opposite will be the case (see below).

Building Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Alt Building Cohort A Cohort A All Cohort B
Cohort B
Lakeland HS Cohort B Cohort B
Remote Cohort A
Cohort A

ASPIRE K-8, OASIS 6-8 and Basic Skills 6-8  (Updated 8/28)
Beginning September 8th, students attending Aspire programs at either Van Cortlandtville Elementary or Aspire, Oasis, or Basic Skills at Lakeland Copper Beech Middle School will attend School four days a week, with the fifth day (the Wednesday of a full week) being a remote learning day.

K-5 Self-contained (Updated 9/18)
Beginning September 24th, students in these classes will attend school four days a week, with the fifth day (the Wednesday of a full week) being a remote learning day.

K-2 Inclusion Co-teach (Updated 9/18)
Beginning September 24th, students in these classes will attend school four days a week, with the fifth day (the Wednesday of a full week) being a remote learning day.


3-12 Inclusion  Co-teach, K-12 Self-contained, 6-12 Resource Room, K-12 Special Education Reading instruction and Oasis 9-12 (Updated 9/18)
Beginning on September 24th, students will attend in split cohorts along with their general education peers. Additional specially designed instruction may be delivered in a variety of ways, including intermittent or regular remote instruction in either small groups or individually. These additional services may be either remote or in-person and may be provided on any day of the week including attendance days, non-attendance days, and remote days.

K-5 Resource Room and K-12 Related Services (Updated 8/28)
Beginning on September 24th, it is expected that students will be provided with these services to the greatest extent possible in a remote learning platform. Where not possible or practicable to be seen remotely, students will be pulled from their attendance time from in-person attendance to receive services. While we will attempt to reduce contact in order to limit exposure, staff will be able to implement in-person services where needed or required. Any student can still be seen in person should staff determine it would be helpful.

Resources
Lakeland CSD Pupil Personnel Services staff take great pride in going above and beyond for our students. Please find, in addition to our website information the following additional information:

  • Resources for Speech Services, Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy can be found in this Livebinder.
  • The Livebinder also includes social emotional support resources for ALL students.