Deer Lakes

School District

Special Education Information

Special Education Information

Parental Information Notice
The Deer Lakes School District is required by law to annually notify parents about screening and evaluation, Special Education programs, the privacy rights of parents and students, Chapter 15 and other protected handicapped students.
The Deer Lakes School District is an equal opportunity education institution and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, nation- al origin, sex, and/or handicap in its activities, programs or employment practices as required by Title VI, Title IX, and Section 504. For information regarding civil rights or grievance procedures, contact the Deer Lakes School District at 19 East Union Road, Cheswick, PA 15024, 724-265-5300 or 1-888-709-4115.
Screening and Evaluation
The Deer Lakes School District uses the following procedures for locating; identifying and evaluating specified needs of school-aged students requiring special programs or services. These procedures, as required by law, are as follows:
The district, as prescribed by Section 1402 of the School Code, routinely conducts screenings of a child’s hearing acuity in the following grades: kindergarten, 1, 2, 3, 7, and 11. Visual acuity is screened in every grade. Speech and language skills are screened in kindergarten and on a referral basis. New students are screened annually. Gross motor and fine motor skills, academic skills and social- emotional skills are assessed by classroom teachers on an ongoing basis. Specified needs from all of these screening sources are noted within the child’s official file. School records are always open and available to parents, and only to school officials who have a legitimate “need to know” regarding information about the child.
Information from the records is released to other persons or agencies only with appropriate authorization that involves written signed permission by the parents. Communications with parents of exceptional students shall be in English or in the native language of the parents.
Screening information will be used by the Intervention Planning Team within the student’s school to meet his or her specific needs or to document the need for further evaluation. The Intervention Planning Team will make adjustments relative to such things as the child’s learning style, behavior, physical inabilities and classroom experiences. If a student does not make progress, parents will be asked to give written permission for further individual professional evaluations.
After all the evaluations are completed, an Evaluation Report (ER) will be compiled with parent involvement. It will include specific recommendations for the types of intervention necessary to deal with the child’s specified needs. Parents are then invited to participate in a meeting where the results of this multidisciplinary evaluation will be discussed. If the student is eligible, an Individualized Education Plan (I.E.P.) will be developed to provide specialized services to the student.
Deer Lakes School District’s I.E.P. Team consists of the parents and the following district staff: a regular education teacher, a special education teacher, the Local Education Agency (LEA) which may be the Director of Special Education and/or the principal, and other teachers/specialists as needed.
Parents may request that the district initiate a screening or evaluation of their student’s specified needs at any time by contacting the building principal in writing. Further information about these procedures may be obtained by calling the Special Education Office at 724-265-5300.
Parents are an integral part of the I.E.P. Team and should be physically present at the I.E.P. meeting. The district will notify parents in writing, make documented phone calls and home visits, if necessary, to make parents aware of the I.E.P. conference and the need for parental participation. At the completion of the I.E.P. meeting, parents are presented with a Notice of Recommended Educational Placement (NOREP) with which they may agree or disagree. If parents disagree with the program being recommended, the issue may be taken to mediation or to a due process hearing.
Information about early intervention, parent rights, mediation or due process procedures, specific special education services and pro- grams offered by the Deer Lakes School District, and the district’s Educational Records Policy are available upon request from the building principal in a child’s school.
Privacy Rights of Parents and Students
The Deer Lakes School District and its employees are required by federal law and state and federal rules and regulations to protect the rights of students. The foundation of these rights comes from federal legislation entitled “Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974,” also known as the Buckley Amendment. There are state rules and regulations dealing with regular and special education students’ rights and privacy. All students are covered by the state regulations contained in Chapter 12 known as Student Rights and Responsibilities.
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 person- al 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 the personally identifiable information contained in these records, to any party, by any means, including oral, written or electronically.
However, information in Student Records or Personally Identifiable Information about a student cannot be shared even in conversation without permission. 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 dis- closure 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.
Chapter 15 & Other 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 with- out 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 pro- gram and extra-curricular activities as is reasonably appropriate for the student’s abilities. These services and protections for “protected handicapped students” are distinct from those applicable to all eligible or exceptional students enrolled (or seeking enrollment) in special education programs.
For further information on the evaluation procedures and provision of services to protected handicapped students contact the Director of Special Education at 724-265- 5300, ext. 2647 or 1-888-709-4115.
Services for School Age Exceptional Students
Numerous services are available to meet the needs of eligible students. Deer Lakes School District offers the following services with- in the district: Learning Support, Emotional Support, Autistic Support, Life Skills Support, Speech/Language Support and Gifted Support. The following services are contracted: Vision, Hearing, Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy.
Student Homeless Assistance 

McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act


In compliance with the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, as reauthorized in 2015

by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the Deer Lakes School District is attempting to identify all children within the district that may be experiencing homelessness, including unaccompanied homeless youth.


The term homeless children and youth is defined as individuals who lack a fixed, regular and

adequate nighttime residence. This includes individuals:

·   Sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship or a similar reason;

·   Living in a motel, hotel, trailer park or campground due to lack of alternative adequate accommodations;

·   Living in emergency or transitional shelters;

·   Living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, bus or train stations or similar settings;

·   Living in substandard housing (no running water or working utilities, infestations, etc.).


The Deer Lakes School District attempts to identify homeless students during the initial enrollment process and on an ongoing basis. If a student or family has indicated they are homeless, or if a staff member has reasonable suspicion that a student or family is homeless, they are required to alert the Homeless Liaison. All procedures in place are designed to ensure this identification does not create or

exacerbate educational barriers.


Students shall not be discriminated against, segregated nor stigmatized based on their status as homeless. To the extent feasible, and in accordance with the student’s best interest, a homeless student shall continue to be enrolled in their school of origin while they remain homeless or until the end of the academic year in which they obtain permanent housing. Parents/Guardians of a homeless student may request enrollment in the school in the attendance area where the student is actually living or other schools. If a student is unaccompanied by a parent/guardian, the district’s Homeless Liaison will consider the views of the students in determining where they will be enrolled.


The selected school shall immediately enroll the student and begin instruction, even if the student

is unable to produce records normally required for enrollment pursuant to district policies. However, the district may require a parent/guardian to submit contact information. The homeless liaison may contact the previous school for oral confirmation of immunizations, and the school shall request records from the previous district. Homeless families are not required to prove residency regarding school enrollment.


The district may contact the district of origin for oral confirmation that the student has been immunized, but must not be a barrier to enrollment. Oral confirmation between professionals is a sufficient basis to verify immunization with written confirmation to follow within thirty (30) days. The instructional program should begin as soon as possible after the enrollment process is initiated and should not be delayed until the procedure is completed. The Homeless Liaison will assist the parent/guardian in obtaining necessary immunizations, or immunization and medical records. Homeless students shall be provided services comparable to those offered to other Deer Lakes students including but not limited to: programs for students with limited English proficiency; and educational services for which students meet eligibility criteria, such as programs for disadvantaged students, and students with disabilities. Homeless families will also have access to all parent involvement activities and initiatives.  Students automatically qualify for free lunch services.


The Deer Lakes School District has staff members who will work with local community agencies to coordinate services in the student’s community. The staff includes: school counselors, a social worker, and mental health liasions, as well as those involved in Student Assistance Program. Additionally, the Deer Lakes School District has certified nurses on staff that work to ensure necessary referrals take place to appropriate health care, dental services, and other medical services.


The district will ensure the student has transportation to school related events, such as, but not limited

to testing and field trips.


Placement/Dispute/Complaints: If the Deer Lakes School District is unable to determine the student’s grade level due to missing or incomplete records, the school shall administer tests or utilize appropriate means to determine the student’s placement.


If a dispute arises over school selection or enrollment, the student shall be immediately enrolled in the school in which enrollment is sought, pending resolution of the dispute. The parent/guardian/student will be provided with a written explanation of the school’s decision on the dispute, including the right to appeal. The parent/guardian/student will be referred to the Homeless Liaison who will carry out the state’s grievance procedure as expeditiously as possible after receiving notice of the dispute. In the case of an unaccompanied student, the Homeless Liaison shall ensure that the student is immediately enrolled in school pending resolution of the dispute.


If disputes or complaints on noncompliance arise regarding the education of homeless students, the

following steps may be taken:

·   The person filing the complaint shall first contact the school’s Homeless Liaison to present their concerns to the people closest to the situation and most likely to be able to resolve it quickly.

·   If Step 1 is not successful or is not possible under the circumstances, contact should be made with the Homeless Project Education Liaison, or the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) will accept complaints directly through the Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program.

·   Individual cases may be referred to PDE’s Office of Chief Counsel and the Office of the Deputy Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education, as needed, by the State Homeless Coordinator.

·   PDE will deliver a response within fifteen (15) business days of the receipt of the complaint. The complaint may arrive in the form of a copy of the school/district letter or on the Dispute Letter Form if given directly to a Liaison of the Homeless Initiative.


Children who are experiencing homelessness may qualify for assistance, with school supplies/materials, and/or tutoring so that they can remain in their school throughout the duration of their homeless episode. If you believe your child(ren) may qualify for this service, please contact the Homeless Liaison, Lindsay McGaughey, at 724-265-5300 x2647.


If your living situation changes during the school year, and you and your children become homeless, please be sure to contact the school. We will work with you so that your child(ren)’s education is disrupted as little as possible.