Special Education Services
SBLSD is committed to ensuring that our students with Individual Education Plans (IEPs) are provided their educational services in compliance with state and federal guidelines. We are committed to providing a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) pursuant to the child’s IEP during the various district stages.
Early Learning: Special considerations are needed when providing inclusionary practices for young children with disabilities, ages 3–5, across the continuum of the district’s reopening stages. A combination of direct instruction with additional time for imaginative play and movement activities each day is recommended with prioritization for face to face delivery. Even though the start of school is always a big transition for young children, this school year raises the need for greater communication with families and attention to the unique needs of young children.
Part C to Part B Transitions:
- We remain obligated to complete a timely Part C to Part B transition, (Early Intervention Birth-2 years transitioning to Early Childhood Special Education at 3 years), with an IEP in place by the child’s third birthday if found eligible for special education.
- The district will review existing data from Part C agency providers to assist in decisions regarding eligibility. If the IEP team believes there is enough current information to complete a comprehensive evaluation and determine Part B eligibility, the district could complete their evaluation using the existing data.
- If face-to-face transition planning meetings and assessments are needed, staff should arrange those to be conducted while following health and safety guidelines.
- The District will prioritize the completion of any delayed Part C to Part B transitions that were unable to be completed in spring 2020 as a result of school facility closures, to avoid any further delay in the provision of Part B services. If the child is found eligible for Part B, the IEP team in consultation with the Sped Director, should consider what recovery services might be needed as a result of the delayed transition.
- Refer to the Evaluations and Eligibility section of this guidance for additional considerations.
Pre-referral Interventions: Students should not be falsely identified as having a disability when their needs are only a result of their experiences or lack of instruction and not an actual disability.
- If a student's needs are determined to be a result of lack of instruction and not due to disability, the school and district should access other supports to address the needs resulting from lack of instruction and explain those to the family.
- A follow up will occur after a period of time to confirm that providing access to appropriate instruction resulted in student progress.
- District will utilize the MTSS process to support students with interventions.
- All interventions should include data collection prior to intervention and regular progress monitoring during the intervention to determine if the student is responding to the intervention. If the student is not making sufficient growth, the team should consider an intensification of the intervention, or an alternative intervention.
Child Find screening will occur remotely in Stages 1-4. To limit the number of individuals visiting a building, the District encourages Child find evaluations to be held virtually. In person evaluation meetings may be considered in Stages 2-5 practicing the safety measures in place.
- Schools continue to carry a child find obligation.
- Teams also have an ethical responsibility to consider referrals carefully in the climate of a global pandemic and the accompanying disruption to general education instructional access for students in the spring of 2020. A lack of instruction is not a disability. However, we must also use caution to avoid or delay initiating comprehensive evaluations based on a lack of instruction. Lack of meaningful instruction can exacerbate the challenges for a student with an underlying disability. Teams should gather information from multiple sources and consider whether an evaluation could help determine whether a disability exists.
- Consider all the intersecting needs of each student through an equity lens. Teams have an ethical responsibility to ensure students are not being identified as having a disability when the primary reason for identified needs is due to one of these other intersecting areas, such as learning English or experiencing trauma.
- Prepare and plan for access to available data remotely.
- Progress monitoring from interventions described in the pre-referral recommendations above is one source of data to consider in the referral process.
- As a result of school facility closure, many students will be returning to school with new or exacerbated trauma and adverse childhood experiences. Limited ability to socialize with other children is expected to have an impact on social emotional skills and behavioral regulation. Teams will need to consider what “behind” in these areas actually looks like after these exceptional circumstances and separate school facility closure as a primary reason for the needs.
Initial Evaluation/Reevaluations - Teams will prioritize meetings postponed in the Spring of 2020 and complete any extended evaluations and will carefully consider appropriate assessment methods with respect to all safety recommendations, best practice, and normative procedures. Caution is needed in the delivery of standardized normative tests which have not been normed for virtual or remote administration.
- Consider the use of curriculum-based assessments and qualitative assessments, as well as review of existing data such as in program assessments or progress monitoring data.
- When determining eligibility and a need for specially designed instruction, teams will need to link these areas of concern to an adverse educational impact. Refer to the recommendations in the OSPI Reopening Wa Schools 2020 District Planning Guide for addressing social emotional needs, including universal screening.
- Other evaluating professionals are recommended to consult with their professional organizations on the ethical and responsible use of virtual and remote assessment at this time.
- Should in-person assessments be needed as part of the comprehensive evaluation, the team should arrange for the assessments to be completed while following health and safety guidelines.
Evaluation and Eligibility Resources
Assessments, Evaluation Meetings, and IEP Meetings - To limit the number of individuals visiting a building, the District encourages Assessments and IEP & Evaluation meetings to be held virtually. In person Assessments and IEP & Evaluation meetings may be considered in Stages 2-5 practicing the safety measures in place.
Progress Monitoring and Reporting:
Special Education Case Managers and Related Service providers must continue to document the student’s current level of performance throughout the school reopening process, across the continuum of the district’s reopening stages. Documentation of progress monitoring data is necessary to evaluate student progress across the school reopening models, including Continuous Learning 3.0. It will also be critical information for IEP teams and Special Education Director to determine the need for any individual Recovery Services.
Progress monitoring considerations:
- Progress reports will be provided consistent with individual student’s IEP.
- Progress data should include the level of performance for each goal/objective, based on various forms of data collection.
○ It is recommended to also include comments in the progress report to note any changes in access to school reopening models, for example: “Due to COVID-19 and state-mandated health directives on Sept __, 2020, data and progress summary information has been collected by the following as available: report card information, informal assessment data, formal assessment data, district or site-based assessments, educator-made assessments, as well as distance learning activities, including both digital and print-based sources.”
- As part of progress monitoring and progress reporting under distance learning frameworks, it is important to:
○ Explore all assessment possibilities recognizing that conducting in-person assessments may be limited during school building closures;
○ Maintain documentation of what services were offered;
○ Maintain documentation of what services were delivered;
○ Maintain documentation of student “attendance” to the extent possible (if digital learning is being offered, how often did the student log in, what work was produced during that time, etc.);
○ Determine what aligns to IEP goals and how to gather solid data on IEP progress to support this determination in the best way possible;
○ Manage the data gathered; and
○ Analyze the data compared to the student’s progress at the point school building closures took place to ensure the COVID-19 impact is made clear.
IEP Tool - Using the IEP tool, case managers will conduct a review of IEPs at the beginning of the school year in partnership with parents and the student’s school team to verify if the plan is still appropriate to support the student and their needs for the different stages 1-5 and meetings will be held as needed.
Provision of IEP and Related Services:
As we move through the reopening stages, considerations must be made for prioritizing in-person services and supports based on student need, including individualized help with paraeducators, for students with vision, deaf hard of hearing (DHH) needs, 1:1 paraeducator services, and across the continuum of district reopening stages. Service planning should address the following:
- Strategies for identifying, documenting, and providing coaching/support needs for families who will be supporting with distance learning. Examples might include short how-to videos, infographic materials in multiple languages, and joint zoom sessions with staff and families to practice accessing learning management systems.
Delivery of Special Education Services
- 100% Distance Learning Model: All students participate in distance learning in their qualifying areas of specially designed instruction and related services. These services will be provided per the student’s IEP in a combination of asynchronous (i.e. activities and/or recorded lessons) and synchronous distance learning formats (i.e. live and simultaneous interactive lessons and activities).
- 100% Distance Learning Model: All students participate in distance learning with the exception of students who require intensive learning support where in person is the only effective delivery method such as students in special education preschool, DLCs, Links, and Connections and the Community-Based Transition Program. Services will be offered up to two days a week in person in support of the Distance Learning.
- Hybrid Model: All students participate in distance learning with the exception of students who require intensive learning support where in person is the only effective delivery method such as students in special education preschool, DLCs, Links, and Connections and Community-Based Transition Program. Staff will have limited and monitored access to school sites for the purpose of planning and delivering online instruction. services will be offered up to four days per week in person in support of the Distance Learning.
- Hybrid Model: All students participate in distance learning with the exception of students who require intensive learning support where in person is the only effective delivery method such as students in special education preschool, DLCs, Links, Connections. Services and Community-Based Transition Program will be offered up to four days per week in person in support of the Distance Learning. In addition, All K-3 students in special education and special education students in grades 4-12 who have a high need for in person services will receive services in a combination of in-person (up to two days/week) in support of distance learning.
- Hybrid Model: Students in special education preschool, DLCs, Links, Connections and Community-Based Transition Program will be offered up to 4 days per week in-person in support of the Distance Learning. In addition, All K-12 students in special education and special education who have a high need for in person services will receive services in a combination of in-person (up to two days/week) in support of distance learning.
- Stage 6: 100% In-Person Learning: All students and staff participate onsite with in-person instruction five (5) days a week. K-12 students who have previously selected the online 3rd party vendor program must continue in this model through the end of the school year. IEP Case Managers will analyze progress and determine with the Special Education Director if any recovery or compensatory services are needed and next steps.
SBLSD is committed to ensuring that our students with 504 Plans are provided their educational services in compliance with state and federal guidelines.
504 Meetings - To limit the number of individuals visiting a building, the District encourages 504 meetings to be held virtually. In person 504 meetings may be considered in Stages 2-5 practicing the safety measures in place.
504 Accommodations - Counselors will conduct a review of 504s accommodations when school commences and disseminate the 504 plan to appropriate staff in the beginning of the school year or semester, to determine if the plan’s accommodation is still appropriate to support the student and their needs for the different stages 1-5 and meetings will be held as needed.