Services for School-Age Students with Disabilities
The Deer Lakes School District provides a free, appropriate, public education (FAPE) to eligible students. To qualify as an eligible student, the child must be of school age, in need of specially-designed instruction, and meet the eligibility criteria for one or more of the following: Autism, Deafness, Emotional Disturbance, Hearing Impairment, Intellectual Disability, Multiple Disabilities, Orthopedic Impairment, Other Health Impairment, Specific Learning Disability, Speech or Language Impairment, Traumatic Brain Injury, or Visual Impairment including Blindness. Information regarding the appropriate developmental milestone descriptors for infants and toddlers may be found at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website at cdc.gov. For additional information regarding the signs of developmental delays or other disabilities, please contact the Special Education Department at 724-265-5300 x2642.
Deer Lakes engages in identification procedures to ensure that eligible students receive an appropriate educational program consisting of special education and related services, individualized to meet student needs. At no cost to the parents, these services are provided in compliance with state and federal laws and are reasonably calculated to yield meaningful educational benefit and student progress. To identify students who may be eligible for special education, various screening activities are conducted on an on-going basis.
These screening activities include: review of cumulative records including benchmark data, health records, report cards, hearing, vision, physical, cognitive, and speech/language screening, which are reviewed by a RTII/MTSS and/or a Student Assistance Program Team. When screening results and a review of data suggests that the student may be eligible for special education services, the District will seek parental consent to conduct a multidisciplinary evaluation. Parents may also request that the District initiate a screening or evaluation of their student’s specific needs at any time by contacting Mrs. Lindsay McGaughey, Director of Special Education, at 724-265-5300, ext. 2642.
After the completion of a multidisciplinary evaluation (ER), if a student is eligible for special education services, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) will be developed by a team, which includes the general education and special education teachers, parents, and district administrator. The Deer Lakes School District provides a continuum of services, including itinerant, supplemental, and full time special education supports, in addition to related services that are required for the student to benefit from the special education program (see the Special Education Program webpage for more information). 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. At the conclusion of the IEP meeting, a Notice of Recommended Educational Placement (NOREP) is issued.
Parents may obtain additional information regarding special education services and programs and parental due process rights by contacting the Director of Special Education, Lindsay McGaughey, at 724-265-5300 x2642.
SERVICES FOR STUDENTS WHO ARE GIFTED
The definition of giftedness comes from the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) Special Education Rules and Regulations under Chapter 16 and states that a student who is mentally gifted demonstrates outstanding intellectual and creative ability, the development of which requires specially designed programs or support services, or both, not ordinarily provided in the regular education program. This term includes a person who has an IQ of 130 or higher or when multiple criteria, as set forth in Chapter 16 and in Department Guidelines, indicate gifted ability. Determination of gifted ability will not be based on IQ score alone and includes a full assessment by a certified school psychologist.
Once a student meets the screening requirements, a Gifted Multidisciplinary Evaluation (GMDE) is conducted. The GMDE must be sufficient in scope and depth to investigate information relevant to the student’s suspected giftedness, including academic functioning, learning strengths and educational needs. The Gifted Written Report (GWR) brings together the findings from the evaluation or reevaluation concerning the student’s educational needs and strengths. The GWR must make recommendations as to whether the student is gifted and in need of specially designed instruction, which are considered by the GMDE Team in the development of the Gifted Individualized Education Plan (GIEP). At the conclusion of the GIEP meeting, a Notice of Recommended Assignment (NORA) is issued.
Parents have the right to obtain an independent educational evaluation at their own expense to share the information with the District. The results of the independent evaluation must be considered by the District in any decision made with respect to the provision of gifted education.
SERVICES FOR PROTECTED HANDICAPPED STUDENTS
A protected handicapped student is a student who is school age with a physical disability or mental disability, which substantially limits or prohibits participation in or access to any aspect of the school program.
In compliance with state and federal laws, the Deer Lakes School District will provide to each protected and handicapped student without discrimination or cost to the student or family, those related aids, services or accommodations which are needed to provide equal opportunity to participate in or obtain the benefits of the school program and extra curricular activities as is reasonably appropriate for the student’s abilities. These services or accommodations for protected handicapped students are provided without discrimination and at no cost to the student or family. 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.
Services and safeguards for protected handicapped students are distinct from those applicable to exceptional students enrolled or seeking enrollment in special education programs. Protected handicapped students fall under Pennsylvania Chapter 15 of Title 22 of the Regulations of the State Board of Education, sometimes known by its federal name Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act. For further information about the provisions of these services to protected handicapped students, please contact the Building Principal.
SERVICES FOR STUDENTS IN NONPUBLIC SCHOOL
Parents of nonpublic school students who suspect that their child has a disability and is in need of special education may request a multidisciplinary evaluation through a written request to the Director of Special Education, Lindsay McGaughey.
In order to receive special education services and programs, a student must (1) qualify through the two pronged evaluation concerning the existence of an exceptionality and a consequent need for specially designed instruction and (2) be enrolled in the school district. In the event that a student in a nonpublic school qualifies for special education services and the parent does not wish to enroll them in the district full time, through dual enrollment, the student can access these services during the scheduled times when the services are available in the district. However, transportation to and from those services is the responsibility of the parent.
CONFIDENTIALITY OF STUDENT RECORDS
The Deer Lakes School District protects the confidentiality of personally identifiable information for all students in accordance with state and federal law and the District’s student records policy.
School records are an important part of a student’s formal educational file in a public school setting. They are confidential and privileged; so a policy (216) regarding the collection, maintenance, and dissemination of records has been adopted by the Deer Lakes School Board. A parent of an eligible/non-eligible child has the rights guaranteed by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. §1232 g; 34 CFR Part 99). This notice outlines these rights.
The basic premise of the above-mentioned laws, rules and regulations is that information about students cannot be disclosed without parental consent. There are different categories of information: Education Records, Personally Identifiable Information and Directory Information. Education Records consist of information directly related to a student, which is maintained by an educational agency. Personally Identifiable Information includes the student’s name, the name of the parent or other family members and a personal identifier of a list of personal characteristics that would make the student’s identity easily traceable.
Education Records and Personally Identifiable Information cannot be disclosed or released without written parental consent or if a student is over eighteen without student consent.
There is certain information that can be released without consent, which is called Directory Information. Directory Information contained in an education record of a student which would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. The school district designates what information is labeled Directory Information.
Disclosure of information means to permit access to, or the release, transfer or communication of education records, or personally identifiable information contained in these records, to any party, by any means, including oral, written or electronically. This also applies to other Deer Lakes School District personnel who do not have an educationally relevant reason to possess knowledge of a student.
Written parental consent is necessary for disclosure of personally identifiable information and education records. The consent must: (1) specify the records that may be disclosed; (2) state the purpose of the disclosure (3) identify the party or class of parties to whom the disclosure may be made. The Deer Lakes School District must maintain a written record of disclosure for the parents to inspect in case information has been released; however, student information may be sent to a district in which a student intends to enroll without prior consent.
Parents have the right to inspect their child’s records within forty-five days from the date of a written request. Parents may make a written request for copies of a child’s records at a fee not to exceed duplicating costs. Requests for review, inspection, or duplication should be submitted to the staff person designated as having responsibility for the records. If a parent believes that any information in the records is inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of privacy, they may request a change in records or have a hearing if the request is refused.
Student records will be maintained until no longer necessary. Special Education Records must be retained for six years and the district webpage also posts the notice of what record year is going to be purged next. Permanent records will be kept for 100 years beyond the date the student attains the age of 21. The permanent records may contain such information as the student’s name, birth date, address, enrollment date, class rank, grades, and academic and non-academic awards. Parents have certain rights with respect to their child’s records that are transferred to a student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends an institution of post secondary education unless the student is dependent upon the parent, as defined in Section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954.