Special Education is a Service—Not a Place
The purpose of special education parallels the purpose of elementary and secondary education as a whole: to prepare children to lead productive lives as citizens and members of the community. Students who have disabilities often need special education services to develop skills for participating in the community as productive and contributing citizens. Participation as a learner, contributor and consumer in school lays the foundations for being a learner, contributor and consumer as an adult.
The age-appropriate general education class in the neighborhood school is the first placement of choice for all students, including those who have been identified as needing an Individualized Education Program (IEP).
Removal from the school or class for reasons related to the disability is only appropriate if the student’s IEP cannot be satisfactorily implemented in that setting even with supplementary aids and services.
Interdisciplinary team planning approach.
Classroom teachers, special education teachers and related services staff cooperatively plan for supports, accommodations and instructional strategies for students with IEPs. This requires team planning prior to class placement and ongoing team planning for the provision of supports and the delivery of instruction. No placement change will be instituted without parent involvement.
Educational placement philosophy.
Placement decisions for children with IEPs are made from the perspective that the general education program is the starting point. Other placement options are driven by the students present levels of performance which derive the goals and objectives. Services and placement options are then considered by the entire IEP team.
Strategies to teach concepts and engage all students in a lesson are based on individual student needs and goals. Lessons are designed for small group instruction with accommodations built into the lesson that allows all students to participate. When possible our special education teacher use the same instructional materials and common core instructional practices as their general education counterparts.
District administration and site faculty accept “ownership” of all students who live in their jurisdiction as full and equal members of the school community. Whenever a student is at risk, collaborative planning strategies are first used to support the student prior to a referral for Special Education. All elementary sites use the Response to Intervention model to facilitate the least restrictive environment.