Welcome to Ellington Public Schools Special Services Webpage!
|Dr. Kristy LaPorte||Director of Special Services|
|Melissa Haberern||Special Education Supervisor|
|Sara Spak||Special Education Supervisor|
|Lynn Seypura||District Nurse Supervisor|
|Kelly Hany||District Nurse Supervisor|
|Tara Kelly||English Language Learner Coordinator/Teacher|
|Christin Buxton||Administrative Assistant|
|Glomelyn Webber||Administrative Assistant|
Welcome to Ellington Public Schools Special Services Website!
Ellington Public Schools provide a Free, Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) for each preschool and school-aged child requiring special education and related services. The district provides each child identified with special needs specific special education and related services to ensure individualized instruction. Services are based on the individual child's needs as determined in an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Ellington Public Schools have established procedures for developing, implementing, reviewing, maintaining, and evaluating IEP's for each child requiring special education and related services. The IEP is based on the diagnostic findings and the educational progress of the child. Changes in a child's IEP can only occur through recommendations made at a PPT meeting or through an amendment based upon the current IEP and information relating to the child's current educational performance.
CHILD IDENTIFICATION PROCEDURES
In accordance with federal regulations, state statutes, and local board of education policy, Ellington Public Schools assume responsibility for the location, identification, and referral of all children requiring special education and/or related services from birth through age 22. The district's child identification process is coordinated by the Ellington Special Services Department, which utilizes a variety of community resources and conducts many systematic activities in its effort to identify children requiring special services. A standard referral form is used to document all referrals.
BIRTH TO THREE COMPONENT
The school district works in collaboration with the statewide Birth to Three system to ensure the identification of children ages birth to three with disabilities. Children are referred to the Birth to Three system by a variety of sources, including parents, hospitals, pediatricians, nursing services, social services, and school staff. Children identified as being in need of services are referred to community agencies. Programs and services are provided in accordance with the eligibility standards and service options currently available through the Birth to Three system. The school district maintains a record of the children with disabilities for whom special education and related services will likely be required upon entry into school at age three.
PRE-REFERRAL PROCESS AND SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH-BASED INTERVENTIONS
General Education Interventions
Prior to Ellington personnel referring a student to a PPT, alternative procedures and programs in general education are explored and implemented where appropriate. Each school has an Intervention Team (MTSS/SRBI) that provides a variety of alternative strategies to the teacher to ensure student interventions are supportive. Student work and data are reviewed with Intervention Teams to develop plans and ensure progress monitoring is occurring. Parents are encouraged to collaborate with the teacher and other involved staff during this time. Interventions in general education may include instructional or behavioral strategies that address the student’s concerns.
Parents or school personnel may request assistance from the school’s Intervention Team, which works collaboratively with the classroom teacher and parents to develop and document strategies that assist the student within the general education program. If the student’s problems or difficulties persist, a prompt referral to a PPT is made.
Additionally, initiatives in general education programming such as Scientific Research-Based Interventions (SRBI) and Multi Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) are designed to emphasize successful instruction for all students through the differentiation of instruction and strategies to support behavior in the classroom. Differentiated instruction and social emotional supports provide opportunities to maximize progress for all students in the classroom by addressing differences in student learning and adapting instruction and materials to meet their needs. SRBI and MTSS emphasize high quality core general education practices, as well as targeted instruction for students experiencing learning, social-emotional or behavioral difficulties.
SRBI and MTSS are designed to ensure that all students in public school classrooms receive appropriate instruction by collecting critical information about the student’s instructional strengths and needs and using this information to create effective, research-based instructional interventions in general education with frequent monitoring of student progress. The District is required to try interventions in the general education classroom as appropriate for the child before a referral is made for a special education evaluation. These interventions can range from less rigorous strategies to multi-tiered interventions. If the student’s difficulties persist, a prompt referral to a PPT is made.
A parent may make a referral at any time for a special education evaluation regardless of where the District is in the intervention process. The District must hold a PPT meeting to consider any referral.
The District will continue the general education interventions even though a referral for special education evaluation has been made.
SRBI and MTSS are extensive, data-driven strategies, the comprehensive discussion of which is beyond the scope of this resource. However, because general education interventions must be explored prior to referring a student to special education, District personnel are encouraged to review SRBI and MTSS processes and procedures.
Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS): https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/SDE/Social-Emotional-Learning/MTSS_Leadership.pdf
Connecticut’s Framework for SRBI: https://portal.ct.gov/SDE/SRBI/SRBI---Scientific-Research-Based-Interventions/Related-Resources
Guidelines for determination of Specific Learning Disability:
Specific Learning Disability/Dyslexia:
Guidelines for identifying students with Emotional Disabilities:
The Board of Education shall make available information, understandable to the general public, concerning the procedures for requesting an initial evaluation of a child to all parents and professional staff.
The written request for an evaluation of a child who is suspected of having a disability and may be in need of special education/related services can be made by:
The student, 18 years or older
A parent, guardian, or surrogate parent
Any individual from other agencies (physician, social worker) to whom a parent has given permission to make a referral
A standard referral form is used to document all referrals to the Planning and Placement Team (PPT). Referral Form: https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/SDE/Special-Education/ED621.pdf
Concerned parents or staff may complete the form. Once completed, the form is given to the school-based School Psychologist or School Administrator. The completion of this referral form initiates the PPT process. For purposes of determining if the evaluation timeline is met, the date of the referral is the day the District staff receive the referral, not the day the referral form is filled out by the District staff.
The parent is not required to submit the standard referral form for an initial evaluation. The District will accept a concern expressed in writing from the parent that the student be referred for an initial evaluation and will provide this to administrative personnel, which in turn will start the PPT referral process. Referrals from parents are to be accepted and processed in all cases where the parent clearly indicates a concern that the student may be a student with a disability and should be evaluated for special education and related services. If a parent makes a referral but does not complete the referral form, District personnel shall complete the referral form. A staff member in each building is available for parents or professional staff to contact regarding school policies and procedures concerning referrals.
Ellington notifies parents and eligible students within five school days after the date of a referral to special education.
A full explanation of all procedural safeguards available to the parent or eligible student is sent with the referral notice. The notice must be in writing in a language understandable to the general public and in the dominant language or other mode of communication used by the parents, unless doing so is clearly not feasible. If the dominant language (or other mode of communication) of the parent is not written, the District shall ensure first, that the notice is translated orally or by other means in the dominant language or other mode of communication of the parents, and second, that the information is clearly presented and understood by the parents. There shall be written evidence that these two steps have been taken.
Additional information is available in the links below:
Parents Guide to Special Education: http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/lib/sde/PDF/DEPS/Special/Parents_Guide_SE.pdf
Procedural Safeguards (Spanish)
Restraint and Seclusion Guidelines
Restraint and Seclusion Guidelines (Spanish)
Transition Bill of Rights
PLANNING AND PLACEMENT TEAM PROCEDURES
The Ellington School district complies with all state and federal regulations concerning the PPT process. Planning and Placement Team meetings are initiated and conducted for the purpose of developing, reviewing, and revising the IEP for a student with disabilities. The Planning and Placement Team meet as to determine assessments necessary for an evaluation to address eligibility for special education, review evaluations and to design the IEP, if required. At this meeting, the team will address the child’s academic and functional needs in the IEP, make placement decisions and review disciplinary concerns when necessary. Above all, the PPT will ensure that a child with a disability who is eligible for special education and related services is provided with a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE). Written parental consent is required prior to conducting a pre-placement evaluation. This consent allows for subsequent reevaluations with parent notice rather than written consent. Thus, this consent is obtained even if independent evaluations are the primary source of assessment data. Parents of students receiving special education must receive written notice five school days prior to any reevaluation.
EVALUATION CONTENT AND PROCEDURAL SAFEGUARDS
The evaluation study may include reports concerning educational progress, structured observation, and such psychological, medical, developmental, and social evaluation as may be appropriate to determine the nature and scope of the child's exceptionality. The evaluation study shall document all sources of information.
Each student receiving special education and related services is reevaluated at least once every three years to determine re-eligibility for services. A reevaluation can also be conducted upon request of the parent(s) or personnel working with the student. The reevaluation is designed and conducted by a multi-disciplinary team using procedures consistent with the pre-placement evaluation.
Parents have the right to obtain an independent evaluation at their own expense, the results of which shall be considered by a planning and placement team, board of education, or hearing board. If parents disagree with a school district's evaluation, they may request that an independent evaluation be done at the school district's expense. If the school district refuses to assume the cost, due process procedures must be initiated to determine the appropriateness of the school district's evaluation. If the hearing officer finds the school district's evaluation to be appropriate, the parents shall assume the cost. If it is found to be inappropriate, the district shall assume the cost. When the cost is assumed by the school district, the criteria under which the evaluation is obtained, including the location of the evaluation and qualifications of the examiner, shall be the same as the criteria which the school district uses when it initiates an evaluation. If a hearing officer requests an independent evaluation, it shall be provided at public expense. The school district is responsible for providing parents with information about where an independent education evaluation may be obtained. Parents may obtain an independent evaluation at private expense. This evaluation must be considered in any decision and may be presented as evidence at a hearing.
SCREENING OF TRANSFER STUDENTS
The principal or designee of each building is responsible for reviewing the records of any new student transferring from another school system. If the records indicate that the student has been identified as a student with disabilities and that appropriate educational programming for the student includes special education and related services, the student is immediately enrolled in a program that provides the appropriate special education and related services. If IEP modifications are necessary, a Planning and Placement Team meeting is held at the earliest possible opportunity.
SCREENING OF GIFTED AND TALENTED STUDENTS
As part of the district’s identification procedures, children who may be gifted or talented will be reviewed through the Planning and Placement Team referral process. Based on school records and other additional information, the Planning and Placement Team will review and determine whether a child can be identified as gifted or talented.
ATTENDANCE, DISCIPLINARY, OR SUSPENSION REVIEW
Excessive absences are reviewed periodically by the building principal or designee as outlined in the district’s truancy policy #5113 and in accordance with state statutes (C.G.S. 46b-149) (PA 15-225). Students whose attendance is of concern are referred to the School Intervention Team (SIT) for further investigation and assistance. If the SIT team suspects that a student may have a disability, the team must make a referral to the Planning and Placement Team (PPT). A disciplinary record review is conducted by the building principal or designee on a periodic basis. Students with excessive disciplinary citations should be referred to the SIT. Strategies may be developed to assist the student, or a referral to the PPT can be made if the team suspects a disability exists. The number of suspensions a student receives is monitored. If a student receives repeated suspensions within one academic year, the SIT team should review the situation and develop strategies to assist the student. Immediate referral to the PPT can be made if the team suspects a disability.
Written Prior Notice
Requirements for written prior notice are found in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA Part-B) at Section 300.504 and in Connecticut Regulations C. G. S. 10-76d-8. Written prior notice is a basic element of the procedural safeguards regarding special education. Parents must be notified in writing of any proposal or refusal to initiate or change the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of the child or the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to the child. Written prior notice is provided after the decision of the Planning and Placement Team (PPT) is made, and before the recommended actions are implemented. Written prior notice must be given five school days before implementing the actions. Parents have 10 school days to decide to accept or deny the IEP.
Written parental consent must be secured before: pre-placement evaluation of a child; initial placement of a child into special education and related services. Once written consent is secured, it is valid for reevaluation and/or changes in program or placement; however, written prior notice must be given to the parents before reevaluation or changes. Parental consent is valid until the parent revokes consent.
PARENT INVOLVEMENT IN THE PLANNING AND PLACEMENT TEAM (PPT) AND INDIVIDUALIZED EDUCATION PROGRAM (IEP) PROCESS
Parents are an important part of the PPT process. Parents are invited to all PPT meetings. The district makes an active attempt to involve parents in PPT meetings and in IEP development. The district records attempts to arrange a mutually convenient time and place for PPT/IEP meetings including: records of phone calls attempted and the results of those calls; copies of correspondence and any responses received; and records of visits to parents’ home or place of employment and results of those visits.
Parents are an important part of the PPT process. Parents must be invited to IEP meetings at least five school days prior to the meeting unless they agree to waive the 5-day notice. The notice of PPT/IEP meetings must indicate its purpose, time, location, and participants. The notice states that parents are given the opportunity to bring other individuals with them to the IEP meeting. The parent invitation letter must indicate that PPT/IEP meetings will be held at a mutually convenient time and place. To learn more about the IEP process, please click on the link below
Parent page by page information guide:
Parent Guide to Special Education in Connecticut: https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/SDE/Special-Education/Parents_Guide_SE.pdf?la=en
Individualized Education Plan Manual (CT-SEDS): https://portal.ct.gov/SDE/Special-Education/Connecticut-IEP-Manual
INDIVIDUALIZED EDUCATION PROGRAM (IEP) PROCEDURES
The Planning and Placement Team (PPT) has the primary responsibility for determining if a child referred to the PPT is a child with disabilities that impact his/her education to such an extent that she/he requires special education services. Federal and state regulations mandate informed written consent from a parent or guardian prior to the initial evaluation, initial placement of their child in a special education program, or for a private placement.
Who is the PPT team? The team includes parents, the student if appropriate, an administrator or designee, a regular education teacher, a special education teacher and a related service provider. However, parents may invite other individuals outside of school or may request other school staff. If your child has a paraprofessional that works directly with your student, you may request to have the paraprofessional attend the PPT.
Educational placements are made according to the requirements in the IEP of any child requiring special education and related services. Such services are reviewed annually. District special education programs are available to eligible students. In selecting a program, consideration is given to any potentially harmful effect on the child or on the quality of services the child needs. Each child with a disability, including students placed in separate facilities, participates with nondisabled children in non-academic and extra-curricular services and activities, including meals and recess periods, to the maximum extent appropriate. Students with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with their peers in regular education environments to the maximum extent appropriate. Special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of students with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily. Extended school year services are available for consideration by a PPT for all students with disabilities regardless of the category of disability.
THE CONTINUUM OF SERVICES IN THE ELLINGTON PUBLIC SCHOOLS
When the PPT/IEP meeting makes the determination of which placement is most appropriate to deliver education in the least restrictive environment (LRE), the district ensures that a continuum of services is available to meet the special education and related services needs of children with disabilities and that alternative placements are available to implement the IEP of each child with a disability. The options listed below ensure that programs are available for students, from those who are not disabled to those who are the most severely disabled. In addition, the district may make provisions for services such as a district program, itinerant instruction, or homebound instruction to meet the needs of children with disabilities.
Regular education services are provided for students who qualify for special education. This is appropriate when the PPT determines that the student who receives special education services would benefit from instruction within the regular education milieu. If suggestions for regular education modifications are made by the PPT, such modifications are provided through the regular education support system. All schools in Ellington provide this service.
Special education instruction within the regular education classroom is provided for students who qualify for special education when the regular education classroom is considered the least restrictive environment. Special education services are provided by a special education teacher or paraprofessional who provides specially designed instruction within the regular classroom. All schools in Ellington provide this service.
Regular education with direct, supplemental special education services. Placement in the regular public school program with minimal removal for special education services is an option. Direct supplemental special education services such as tutoring, small group or resource room services, or group or individual therapies are provided. All schools in Ellington provide these services.
Resource room programming within the local public school. Students with special education needs are enrolled primarily in regular education at their local school and are provided resource room services on a "pull-out" basis as a substitution for regular education instruction. All schools in the district provide these services.
Specialized, self-contained, or semi self-contained special education classes. Students with special education needs that cannot be met in regular classes may receive specially designed instruction in self-contained special education classes within district programs or in their neighborhood school in a regular school building. Unless specifically determined to be inappropriate, homerooms, lunch arrangements, and non-academic activities are provided in regular education. Some schools in the district provide these programs.
Another school in the district. Students whose educational needs cannot be accommodated in their local school building, may be transferred to another public school building within the district. In such cases, resource room, self-contained, or semi self-contained special education class services may be provided, with the maximum appropriate amount of regular class participation and the availability of supplementary aids and services.
Regional Educational Service Center (RESC) or another school district. For some students, an appropriate day program may be selected at an area RESC or in another school system. Such programs can sometimes be found near the child's home. In such cases, self-contained special education class services may be provided, with the maximum appropriate amount of regular class participation in the receiving school and/or neighboring public schools.
Private facility day program. Placement in a day program at an approved private special education program within the state may be necessary to provide an appropriate education.
Private facility residential program. If none of the above options is appropriate, placement in a residential program at an approved special education private school facility within the state is considered in order to provide an appropriate education. The district ensures that a student with a disability in a private school or facility has all the rights of a student with disabilities who is served in the school district.
ADDITIONAL PLACEMENTS TO COMPLETE THE CONTINUUM
Diagnostic placement. The purpose of such placement is to assess the needs of a child for whom an IEP may be needed, but for whom the evaluation study is either inconclusive or insufficient to determine the child's IEP. A diagnostic placement is a structured program to support the student’s education while the evaluation components are being administered.
Homebound or hospitalized instruction. Homebound or hospitalized instruction shall be provided when recommended by the PPT. One or more of the following conditions must apply:
- A physician has certified in writing that the child is unable to attend school for medical reasons and has stated the expected date the child will be able to return to the school program. Please request the homebound document from the school nurse.
- The child's presence in school endangers the health, safety, or welfare of the child or others.
The Ellington Public Schools and/or the State Board of Education shall not be responsible for the cost of educating a child requiring special education and related services whose parents/guardians unilaterally place the child.
When a child is placed in a residential facility because of needed services of a non-educational nature, the financial responsibility of the board shall be limited to the reasonable costs of the special education instruction only.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
Section 504 is a federal law designed to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities in programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance from the United States Department of Education (USDE). Section 504 provides in part that “No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States . . . shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance . . .” Recipients of this federal financial assistance include public school districts, institutions of higher education, and other state and local education agencies. The regulations implementing Section 504 in the context of educational institutions appear at 34 CFR Part 104.
The Section 504 regulations require a school district to provide a “free appropriate public education” (FAPE) to each qualified student with a disability who is in the school district’s jurisdiction, regardless of the nature or severity of the disability. Under Section 504, FAPE consists of the provision of regular or special education and related aids and services designed to meet the student’s individual educational needs as adequately as the needs of nondisabled students are met (OCR, 2011).
Who Is Protected under Section 504?
Section 504 covers qualified students with disabilities who attend schools receiving federal financial assistance. To be protected under Section 504, a student must be determined to: (1) have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; or (2) have a record of such an impairment; or (3) be regarded as having such an impairment. Section 504 requires that school districts provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to qualified students in their jurisdictions who have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.
Major life activities, as defined in the Section 504 regulations at 34 CFR 104.3(j)(2)(ii), include functions such as caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working. This list is not exhaustive. Other functions can be major life activities for purposes of Section 504. In the Amendments Act, Congress provided additional examples of general activities that are major life activities, including eating, sleeping, standing, lifting, bending, reading, concentrating, thinking, and communicating. Congress also provided a nonexhaustive list of examples of “major bodily functions” that are major life activities, such as the functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions. The Section 504 regulatory provision, though not as comprehensive as the Amendments Act, is still valid—the Section 504 regulatory provision’s list of examples of major life activities is not exclusive, and an activity or function not specifically listed in the Section 504 regulatory provision can nonetheless be a major life activity.
Physical or Mental Impairment that Substantially Limits a Major Life Activity
The determination of whether a student has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity must be made based on an individual inquiry. The Section 504 regulatory provision at 34 CFR 104.3(j)(2)(i) defines a physical or mental impairment as any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological; musculoskeletal; special sense organs; respiratory, including speech organs; cardiovascular; reproductive; digestive; genitourinary; hemic and lymphatic; skin; and endocrine; or any mental or psychological disorder, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities. The regulatory provision does not set forth an exhaustive list of specific diseases and conditions that may constitute physical or mental impairments because of the difficulty of ensuring the comprehensiveness of such a list.
The CSDE’s Section 504 Resources Table below lists publications specifically related to the processes and procedures for attaining services for students with disabilties and special health care needs.
(retrieved from CSDE Website)