PROGRAMS AND SERVICES
PROGRAMS AND SERVICES
Overview - Special Education Programs and Pupil Personnel Services
The Pelham Public School District is committed to providing special education and related services to students with disabilities through a continuum of service delivery models that offer these services in the least restrictive environment and in an integrated setting with non-disabled peers. Our district programs stress access to the general education curriculum, improvement in student academic performance, and meeting the individual academic and affective needs of students. Through a strong collaborative relationship among professional staff, administrators, parents, and students, we strive to achieve our goals and provide a well-coordinated learning experience for our students with disabilities.
In District Programs
The school system maintains a core staff in each building to address student needs. Called “Pupil Personnel Services,” this support includes areas such as health, speech, special education, guidance and psychological services. The Pelham Schools offer comprehensive special education programs for students who require alternative instructional support, based upon a disability identified by the Committee on Special Education. Our schools offer a continuum of programs including: Resource Room, Consultant Teacher, Special classes, and Inclusion classes.
Related services currently provided within the district include speech and language therapy, psychological services, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. Additional related services could include Teacher of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing or Teacher of the Visually Impaired. These services are provided to students with disabilities in conjunction with their special education and/or general education programs. The related service professionals address knowledge and skills, which are not typically included in subject area curriculum. The goal of the district is to provide these services through district personnel, whenever practical.
Consultant Teacher Services
Consultant teachers provide direct and indirect services to students with disabilities who participate in full-time general education programs. Direct consultant teacher services are provided to students in a general education classroom. A special education teacher provides indirect consultant teacher services to general education teachers to assist them in making environmental and/or instructional modifications for students with disabilities in order for these students to be successful learners. They serve as a specialized, highly skilled resource to the general education teacher.
Resource Room Services
A resource room program provides specialized supplementary instruction in a small group setting of up to five students who have similar academic, social, physical, and management needs. The resource room teacher addresses specific academic and organizational difficulties experienced by the students and offers support for students in their general education classes as well as supplemental instruction.
Resource Room/ Consultant Teacher Services
Beginning with the 2007-2008 school year, the state has allowed districts to offer a combination Resource Room/ Consultant Teacher program to students. The service is ideal for students who do not require the full three-hour per week of pullout service in a Resource Room, but could instead benefit from direct instruction and special teacher support. The program is offered as a combination Resource/ Consultant model for a total of 3 hours in a 6-day cycle.
Districts use the terminology “integrated co-teaching,” consistent with the regulatory requirements, so that the level of services provided to a student is clear and consistent among school districts. Integrated co-taught classes are programs in which the special education teacher co-teaches with the general education or content area teacher in the general education classroom. The special education teacher offers more intensive support than in the consultant teacher model, including developing modified materials, instructional techniques and behavioral strategies. In several classes at the high school and at the middle school levels, co-taught classes are available and have been particularly effective for students who in the past may have been taught in a separate special class setting. A combination of special class and integrated co-taught classes are available in select elementary schools, which are offered strictly on facility space availability. The integrated co-teaching model is proving to be effective for many students each year, including students enrolled in Regents level courses in grades 8 through 12.
Special Class Services
A special class provides primary instruction in one or more academic areas. The maximum class size for a special class program ranges from six to fifteen students. In the Pelham Schools, the majority of special classes have an enrollment of up to twelve students. Special classes are typically staffed by one teacher and at least one teaching assistant. Students are grouped together for special class instruction based on the similarity of their needs. Grouping by needs is based on present levels of academic achievement and learning rate, levels of physical and social development, and the management needs of students in the classroom. Students are mainstreamed in specials and, when appropriate, specific academic classes at the elementary level. At the middle school level, special classes are offered in several of the core academic areas based on student need. Students are mainstreamed for specials/electives and various academic courses. Special class offerings have expanded in the middle and high school in recent years, to allow increased numbers of Pelham students to be educated within the district.
It is important to note that there are times that students need reteaching of class material, support to remain on task, or organizational assistance for short and long term class assignments. Such students may not require an integrated co- taught class in which a certified special education teacher must be in attendance. Teacher assistants and school monitors are employed to meet these specific student needs at various times during the school day. These staff members may assist in delivering testing and program accommodations for one or more class periods.
Elementary Autistic Class (ACE)
Districts in Westchester County have seen a surge in the identification of students with autism and autism-related disorders. Students formally placed in our elementary classes, and out of district placements, have been identified with “qualitative impairments in social interaction.” These students require a class with a smaller teacher to student ratio, with specific prescribed methodologies. While no two persons who have autism will behave in quite the same way, we believe this group formed the critical mass needed to warrant operating our own K-2 Autistic Class beginning with the 2006-2007 school year. A K-2 class and a grade 3-5 class were implemented for the 2009-2010 school year. Both classes continued for the 2010-2011 school year. Population trends dictated expanding the scope of the K-2 class for 2011-2012 to include students with multiple disabilities; a trend that will continue for the 2012-2013 class.
Therapeutic Support Program (TSP)
Each year students are identified in Pelham at the Middle and High School level who need a more structured, organized form of instruction, with supervised mainstreaming to support their emotional needs. The TSP (Therapeutic Support Program) in the high school was opened in September 2006 to allow Pelham students to remain in the PMHS. These students have been successful in Pelham High School, with the support of additional psychological services, highly trained staff and supportive administration. Students have graduated and are currently attending college programs, as a result of the TSP initiative. The high school program will continue for the 2012-2013 school year. Similar needs had become evident in the Pelham Middle School, resulting in the implementation of a TSP program for middle school students for the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 school year. The Middle School TSP program in 2012-2013 has been modified to meet the needs of the current student body.
Foundations of Learning
The Foundations of Learning is a specialized program which had been historically offered in the Prospect Hill School and Pelham Middle School in past years. It was fully implemented in the Pelham Memorial High School for the 2008-2009 school year. Students are accepted into the program based on educational needs, yet not a specific classification. Students work toward alternative learning standards based upon the NYS Curriculum and their own individual differences. Students are typically struggling with basic academic or communication skills and may exhibit mild behavioral demands.
School psychologists assist the educational staff in evaluating student learning and related problems. The psychologists work with students and parents and refer them to appropriate counseling agencies as needed.
Speech and Language Services
The Pelham Schools offer speech and language services to students who have significant receptive or expressive language delays. Therapists assist in the identification and instruction of children requiring these services.
School Counseling Services
The counseling programs for middle and high school students are proactive. Small group outreach programs target both social and academic concerns. Post secondary goals also are a major focus for PMHS counselors. Counselors work with families, administration, outside agencies, the District Special Education Office and Section 504 Committee to ensure that students’ needs are met. Students and parents may contact counselors at any time by making an appointment with the Counseling Office.
Building Level Response to Intervention
Teams Individuals participating in an instructional decision-making team have a broad understanding of interventions and are highly skilled in data analysis, problem solving and decision making in support of improving instructional programs for students. The Response to Intervention Team is a collaborative building-based team which may include the principal, school psychologist, a regular education teacher, a special education teacher, speech and language therapist, reading teacher and other support staff. Using a problem solving approach, the team will create effective intervention plans for students who are not meeting learning standards and/or are exhibiting learning or behavioral differences. If the proposed interventions do not work, the child may then be referred for testing and special education services. Parents and family members are an essential part of an effective RtI model. The Response to Intervention (RtI) process and team can be used as part of the process to determining a learning disability; however, the process does not preclude parents from referring their child to the Committee on Special Education (CSE) at any point.
Special Public and Private Day or Residential Schools
The majority of students with disabilities are educated in Pelham special education programs; however, students with more intensive specialized needs may require a different educational setting. Pelham utilizes the Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) special education programs as well as other public school districts’ special education programs. A small number of children are also educated in private day or residential schools.