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Letter to Parents and Guardians of Special Education Students

 

On behalf of the Watervliet City School District, I would like to inform you of the Special Education Review that has taken place over the past couple of months. This helped us to assess our programs and services in order to look at how we can improve the supports that we offer our students. This year, the district has developed a new framework and process that will assist our teams in developing and providing appropriate programs and services to our students for the 2017-2018 school year based on the following program beliefs:

1.  We provide special education services that meet the individual needs of the child, are developmentally appropriate and strength-based. These services are provided in a supportive learning environment in the least restrictive setting.

2.  We will bring special education expertise to the student in the general education learning environment to the greatest extent possible.

3.  All special education instruction will be based on the New York State Common Core learning standards.

4.  Student data will be used to inform and improve instruction.

5.  Related services provided to special education students will be educationally relevant, evidence-based and will support the student’s learning.

These services will be provided to the student in a manner that is least disruptive to the child’s learning.

New This Year: At the beginning of the this calendar year a K-12 Student Support Advisory Team (consisting of 12 staff members) was established to review the district’s special education programming, services, and delivery models. The team’s goal was to identify strengths and weaknesses in our programming /continuum of services and to make changes, if necessary, to efficiently and effectively provide appropriate supports and services to our students. The team quickly identified that we needed to use student data to inform and improve that instruction and to do so in a clear manner with the best interest of students in mind. With that data and knowledge of our students, the Committee on Special Education will utilize a “Learner Characteristics” model this year to help in the decision making process. You may view those Learner Characteristics, here.

Preparing for Annual Review: We started using the IEP Direct Student Management System this year for all meetings, so the documents may look a little different to some of you since we were using ClearTrack in the past. As in the past, pre-meetings and preparing for the meeting makes for a smoother Annual Review meeting. Your child’s Special Education Teacher may be contacting you to prepare for the meeting. Please read about our new Learner Characteristics Program Model that will guide us this year in developing an appropriate program for your child next year. If you have any specific questions about Annual Reviews or the Learner Characteristics, please contact your student’s Special Education teacher or your CSE Chairperson.

I look forward to the positive changes in regards to supporting our students that we will be implementing in our district during the 2017-2018 school year.

Sincerely,

Janelle O. Yanni
Director of Programs & Pupil Services
Watervliet City School District