Parents as partners
In Wallingford, parents are critical members of the team.
SPECIAL EDUCATION LINKS FOR PARENTS:
General information regarding special education and how to support your child.
- A Parent's Guide to Special Education in Connecticut
- Guía para padres sobre educación especial en Connecticut (Spanish version)
- Procedural Safeguards
- Building A Bridge: A Resource Manual for High School Students
- Transition Bill of Rights
- Restraint and Seclusion Guidelines
- PPT Checklist
- Connecticut Parent Advocacy Center
What is PTAC (Parent Teacher Advisory Council)?
We are parents and teachers who advise the Special Education leadership on all school matters except personnel performance.
When we meet
We meet once a month during the school year, 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. All meetings are hybrid and are open to the public and we encourage your attendance.
Meeting Dates 2022 - 2023
- September 27, 2022 Meeting Agenda Presentation: The New IEP
- October 25, 2022 Meeting Agenda Presentation:
- November 29, 2022 Meeting Agenda Presentation:
- January 24, 2023 Meeting Agenda Presentation:
- February 18, 2023 Meeting Agenda Presentation:
- March 29, 2023 Meeting Agenda Presentation:
- April 25, 2023 Meeting Agenda Special Education Resource Fair: Lyman Hall High School
- May 23, 2023 Meeting Agenda
- Life Planning and Conservatorship
- Fall Down 7 Times, Get Up 8; Teaching Kids to Succeed
- Department Improvement Plan
- Gifted and Talented
- Assistive Technology High Tech to Low Tech: What does your child need?
How to add an item to the agenda
If you would like to add an item to the PTAC agenda, please forward it to the Special Education Director. It will be added to the next meeting’s agenda.
Meeting Agendas and Minutes
If interested in accessing either agendas or meeting minutes please contact either:
- Tracey Butka, Secretary to the Assistant Superintendent for Special Education
- Cindy Sigovitch, Chairperson
How to become a member
All parents and teachers are invited to participate. Any parent who attends is a member. PTAC officers help run and organize the meetings.
How to reach us
You may send mail to us in care of the Assistant Superintendent for Special Education. The address is:
Special Education Department
Wallingford Public Schools
100 South Turnpike Road
Wallingford, CT 06492
QUESTIONS FREQUENTLY ASKED BY PARENTS
1. Who do I contact if I am concerned that my child requires special education?
A parent should reach out to your child's classroom teacher or principal if you are concerned regarding his/her academic progress and/or social, emotional or behavioral functioning. The school team will meet with parents to discuss the concerns and the appropriate next steps in a Planning and Placement Team meeting.
2. Are there specific written procedures established for transitioning from school to school?
Yes. There are very specific guidelines staff utilize when transitioning students from level to level such as preschool to kindergarten, second grade to third grade, fifth grade to middle school, eighth grade to high school and then high school to post-secondary education. Transition meetings or PPTs, which include staff from both sending and receiving schools, are conducted. Teachers from sending and receiving schools also meet prior to these PPTs to discuss incoming students’ needs. Special education department heads play a key role in ensuring students transition smoothly from school to school and individual student needs are addressed. Transitions from second to third grade do not usually require PPTs as programs from second to third grade generally remain the same. Individual student needs, however, are considered and addressed and an established procedure between sending and receiving schools at this level is followed as well.
3. What is “Futures” planning and when is it available to assist my child’s team with planning?
A Futures planning session is a meeting involving those closest to and with the greatest knowledge of the student. Planning meetings involve family members and school personnel as well as other significant people in the child’s life. The purpose of a Futures planning session is to identify hopes and dreams that each meeting participant has for the child as well as exploration of strengths and areas of challenge for the child. During this meeting participants identify support systems that need to be put in place for the student over time and specify responsible parties. Futures facilitators have been trained by the school district in this process and compile a "Futures" report following the planning session. Teams then use this report to guide their work with the child moving forward. Referral to a Futures Planning meeting is recommended by the PPT and generally last for three to four hours.
4. Where can I access a district directory inclusive of staff names, locations, and responsibilities?
You can find detailed staff information on the Wallingford Public Schools website on your child's school's home page. The roles of the various service providers are defined below in the next section.
5. What are the roles and responsibilities of the various professionals within the department?
School Psychologist: A school psychologist is an expert in how your child learns. He/she is responsible for supporting the team in identifying your child's strengths and weaknesses in regard to their learning profile. The school psychologist also plays a critical role in providing social/emotional support to children struggling in the school environment.
Social Worker (SW): The role of the school social worker is to serve as a liaison between the school, the family and outside mental health service providers. The social worker assists students with social, emotional, psychiatric needs in functioning within the school environment.
Occupational Therapist (OT): A school-based occupational therapist provides direct instruction to students in the areas of fine motor (writing, cutting, buttoning, manipulating objects) as well as sensory processing when there is an educational impact. The occupational therapist often consults with the team in supporting fine motor development and sensory processing skills within the classroom environment.
Physical Therapist (PT): A school-based physical therapist provides direct instruction to students in the areas of gross motor (climbing stairs, walking, throwing, catching, safely navigating environment) when there is an educational impact.
Speech and Language Pathologist (SLP): A school-based speech and language pathologist provides direct instruction to students with deficits in expressive language (ability to formulate and/or retrieve words/sentences orally), receptive language (ability to understand the spoken word), articulation (ability to produce sounds appropriately), social language (ability to communicate verbally and nonverbally as well as interpret communication in a social context) as well as fluency (ability to produce spoken language fluently or stuttering).
6. How often can I meet with my child’s team and what other forms of communication are available for me to communicate with my child’s teachers?
Although Planning and Placement teams (PPTs) convene annually, a parent can request to meet with their child's team at any time either through a PPT or a team meeting. Parent conferences, meetings, e-mails, phone calls, communication logs are all avenues for parent/teacher communication and can be arranged between teachers and parents.
7. What are helpful websites parents might access?
Please refer to PPS department web pages and individual staff pages found on the Wallingford Public Schools website for various links that can assist you with many of your questions. The Connecticut State Department of Education is a very detailed and informative website. CPAC, Connecticut Center for Parent Advocacy, is an additional site with various resources and tools for parents.
8. What community (local/regional/state) resources are available in areas like recreation, health and welfare, disability-friendly businesses, services?
9. What are the procedures for dispute resolution (state, federal)? What resources are available for dispute resolution (low-cost legal assistance, advocates)?
The Procedural Safeguards document that is provided to or offered to parents at every annual review PPT meeting for the related procedures.
10. What are essential timelines and due dates that must be met in the IEP process?
Generally, an annual review PPT must be held by the year anniversary of when the IEP was created. Goals and objectives must be reviewed and revised by this anniversary and a new IEP implemented. A triennial PPT must be held within three years of your child’s original evaluation which placed him/her in a special education program. An assessment must take place to ensure that your child continues to qualify for special education. Initial evaluations, prior to your child receiving special education or related services, must be completed and eligibility determined within 45 school days. There may be some exceptions to this rule in specific situations.
11. Are reading/math intervention services available to special education students?
The specific services students receive are based on individual needs and should be discussed at your child’s PPT meeting.
12. What is assistive technology and how/when can assistive technology needs be determined and met?
Some students may require assistive technology in order to meet their IEP goals and objectives ranging from low technology tools such as utilizing visual schedules to higher technology such as communication devices. Assistive technology needs should be discussed at your child’s PPT.
13. How are parents contacted about Special Education PTAC meetings?
An email is sent to all parents on a monthly basis regarding the Special Education PTAC meeting. In addition, updated information can be found on the Special Education website. All parents who so request are added to the Special Education PTAC email list and receive meeting agendas and prior meeting minutes before each scheduled meeting.
14. How do I go about setting up a meeting with staff prior to a PPT?
Contact your child’s special education teacher to inquire about setting up meetings. When the purpose of the PPT is to review evaluation results it is encouraged that parents meet with evaluators to review testing results before the PPT meeting.
15. There are so many acronyms in education! What do they all mean?
A list of acronyms and their meanings is posted on the Special Education website. Click Here to view
16. What should I expect at a PPT?
For an annual review you should expect the teachers/staff working with your child to review progress and create a new IEP based on the present needs of your child. At a triennial PPT you can expect staff to review all assessment results to determine whether your child continues to qualify for special education. If your child continues to qualify for services, a new IEP will be developed to meet your child’s current needs. The purpose of each PPT is indicated on the PPT Meeting Notice which you receive at least 5 days prior to the PPT.
17. What is the SRBI process? Can you describe this?
This is a regular education process to provide struggling students with appropriate interventions targeting students’ individual educational needs. For more information on this process contact your child’s regular education teacher or go to the Connecticut Department of Education website or by accessing the Family Guide to Connecticut's Framework for RTI.
18. What is a Universal Screening? What’s Progress monitoring?
Universal screening refers to those assessments conducted by the school system and administered to all students in a grade level or course. Screening results are used to identify areas for intervention for large or small groups of students, or targeted intervention areas for individual students. Progress monitoring means regular, specific assessment or re-assessment of skill(s), and subsequent analysis of progress. Progress can be evaluated relative to self (individual improvement) or group (comparison of individual growth to cohort growth).
19. What is a 504 versus an IEP? What is the difference?
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act is a broad civil rights law intended to prevent discrimination/denial of access based upon disability. A 504 plan outlines accommodations to the school environment necessary to assure equal access/prevent discrimination. IDEA has a more narrow definition of disability, and guarantees access to and participation in a Free and Appropriate Public Education, provided, to the maximum extent appropriate, in typical education environments and with typical peers. The IEP’s focus is more upon specialized instruction rather than environmental accommodations. View Frequently Asked Questions about 504 and IDEA for more information.
20. How can I build in better communication with my child’s IEP team for updates on student progress?
There are many times for progress updates throughout the year, not just at report card time. Mid-term progress is reviewed by teachers approximately half-way through the marking period, and grade level teams often meet to review data monthly. An email at the beginning of the year to inquire about already established progress review points would be a great place to start the discussion of improved/more frequent communication. Arrangements can be made informally to include parents in those updates/reviews, or planned contact can be established through the PPT process.
21. How do I read the IEP? What does each section mean?
Each section serves a different purpose. The intent of the IEP is to outline a students current level of performance, identify strengths and weaknesses and create a plan that addresses a student's programmatic needs.
Section 1: This section outlines the student's demographics including the child's primary disability as well as the dates of the IEP.
Section 2: This section addresses and special considerations that the team needs to consider in the development of the plan for the student including whether or not additional plans for behavior, vision or hearing need to be developed. It is in this section that the teams determines:
If behavior is a concern: whether or not a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) is required to support the student in accessing his/her education.
if the student has a visual impairment: whether or not Braille is required as medium for literacy instruction
if the student has a hearing impairment: the Language and Communication plan is developed which outlines the individualized plan for emergency procedures, access to the deaf community, role modeling and mentorship, specific instructional methodologies and/or accommodations
if the student has a print disability (reading disorder, physical impairment which impacts access to print); whether or not access to alternative print material is required (large print, books on tape etc.)
Section 3: This section outlines the goals and objectives and related accommodations and modifications required to provide the student with a meaningful results-based education that will address individual needs directly related to his/her strengths and weaknesses. Parent/guardian input is critical to the team when determining the student's strengths and weaknesses. This parent feedback leads the section.
Section 4: This section is relative to all students 14 years old and above (it is written the year the student turns 14). Transition planning is a critical component of the student's program. The team including the student and the parent(s)/guardian(s) is charged with considering and developing a long-term post high school plan. The program outlined in the IEP should lead to success in this future plan.
Section 5: This section outlines the type of special education and related services the student will receive including the setting, the amount of time and the frequency of the service. The services are directly linked to the student's goals and objectives.
Prior Written Notice (PWN): The PWN outlines the specific decisions and program designed by the team during the ppt and should reflect the IEP as a whole. The parent/guardian shall receive this notice within 5 school days of the PPT.
22. How does the transition from elementary to middle school work?
There is a set process for transitioning children from elementary to middle school which includes frequent communication between regular and special education staff at both sending and receiving schools and elementary and middle school PPS department heads. Visits to the middle school are arranged for all students by the regular education teachers but additional visits for special education students are often arranged. Prior to the transition, a PPT is always held at the middle school with both elementary and middle school staff. Parents should contact special education teachers and/or PPS department heads with specific questions.
23. How can I view the Special Education Improvement Plan goals?
Special Education Improvement Plan (posted on the district website)
24. What services are provided to students to help them prepare for the transition to life after high school and what can parents do to assist students in this process?
Under the individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004), transition planning is required as part of your child’s IEP (Individualized Education Program) at the annual PPT meeting during the year your child's 14th birthday, or earlier if determined appropriate by the Planning and Placement Team (PPT). Parents and guardians can work closely with school personnel to insure that appropriate goals in such areas as self-advocacy, preparation for college or other post-secondary education, employment readiness, and independent living are included in the IEP. Transition resources provided by the Connecticut Department of Education, including the publication Building a Bridge: A Transition Manual for Students and Transition Bill of Rights for Parents of Students Receiving Special Education Services
25. What can parents of special education students expect to happen in any given year? What meetings will there be throughout the year?
Parents can expect that their children will receive specially designed instruction to meet their individual needs. Parents, administrators, related service staff, special and regular education teachers work as a team throughout the year providing appropriate services to your child. Each year an annual review PPT will take place. You and the other team members will talk about your child’s progress towards the goals and objectives in the current IEP and develop an IEP for the next year. The team should consider your child’s strengths, any concerns you might have, the results of any evaluations, and any behaviors that interfere with your child’s learning.
26. When can you call a PPT?
A PPT can be convened at any time the parent or school staff has concerns or issues that may result in the revision of a student’s IEP. The parents and school staff may also agree to amend an IEP without convening a PPT if there are only minor changes being proposed to the IEP.
27. What is the specific role of each specialist who works with my child?
The role of each specialist (special education teacher, speech pathologist, school psychologist, social worker, occupational therapist, physical therapist, etc.) is to target identified student needs in their area of specialty requiring the development of IEP goals and objectives.
28. What is the process I follow when I feel that my child’s plan is not going well?
Parents are encouraged to contact their child’s special education teacher/case manager as the first step to discuss any concern involving student programming. The parent may contact the special education department head or the school principal if the concerns do not seem to be resolved within a reasonable amount of time. Ongoing communication with your child’s service providers will be very helpful in preventing lingering concerns regarding your child’s progress on his/her IEP goals and objectives. Consultation with the Special Education Coordinators or the Assistant Superintendent of Special Education may also be helpful in resolving on-going programming concerns.
29. When is it more appropriate to ask for a parent/teacher or team meeting versus a PPT meeting?
It is appropriate to convene a PPT at any time to discuss programming concerns that may result in revisions to your child’s IEP. It would also be necessary to convene a PPT if evaluations are going to be reviewed or recommended. It would be appropriate to convene a parent conference at any time to discuss student progress and/or concerns that would not require any changes to the student’s IEP.
30. What is the role of the case manager?
The case manager is responsible for overseeing the implementation of your child’s IEP and for sharing all necessary IEP related information with staff members who will be involved in the implementation of your child’s IEP. Your child’s case manager also serves as your primary contact for any concerns you may have regarding your child’s IEP.
31. How do I know when my child no longer needs special education?
A student is exited from special education when he/she masters IEP goals and objectives and no longer requires specialized instruction and accommodations in order to access the general education curriculum. A student may also be exited from special education if he/she no longer meets the eligibility criteria through the re-evaluation process.