QUESTIONS FREQUENTLY ASKED BY PARENTS
1. What are the special education programs available to students at various grade levels?
STARS (Specialized K-2 program for students with significant cognitive delays)
Harvest Park Primary Program (Specialized K-2 program for students who require significant behavioral support)
Harvest Park Elementary Program (Specialized 3-5 program for students who require significant behavioral support)
INSPIRE (Individual Support in Realistic Environments)
ARTS Academy (Alternate Route to Success)
ICE-T (Independent Community and Employment Transition Program)
Flexible Resource Rooms
Pull out/Push in Support
Other programming needs based on students’ IEPs
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 pre-school to kindergarten, second grade to third, fifth grade to middle school, eighth grade to high school and then high school to post-secondary education. Transition PPT meetings 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. PPS department heads play a key role in making sure 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 a Futures meeting is three to four hours in length.
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.
5. 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?
Appropriate staff will be available to communicate with parents as necessary. Parent conferences, meetings, e-mails, phone calls, communication logs are all avenues for parent/teacher communication and can be arranged between teachers and parents. Communication during school hours may be more restrictive because of teachers’ teaching schedules.
6. What are helpful websites parents might access?
Please refer to PPS department webpages 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. One important resource available is the Parents Guide to Special Education
7. What community (local/regional/state) resources are available in areas like recreation, health and welfare, disability-friendly businesses, services?
There are links to many of these resources that can be found on the Wallingford Public Schools website. The Parks and Recreation department, YMCA, Department of Developmental Services (DDS), Bureau of Rehabilitative Services, DCT Voluntary Services and the Autism Resource Center are a few of the resources that are available to parents.
8. What are the procedures for dispute resolution (state, federal)? What resources are available for dispute resolution (low-cost legal assistance, advocates)?
Please refer to the Parent Procedural Safeguards document that is provided to or offered to parents at every annual review PPT meeting
9. What are essential timelines and due dates that must be met in the IEP process?
Many questions regarding the IEP process can be answered by reading through the Parent Procedural Safeguards and also the State Department of Special Education website. 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 put in place. 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 60 calendar days. There may be some exceptions to this rule in specific situations.
10. On the district website, could we have drop down menus with hyperlinks?
There currently are several drop down menus with hyperlinks on the PPS website.
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 PPS PTAC meetings?
A letter to all parents is sent out on an annual basis to inform parents of PPS PTAC meetings for the coming year. In addition, updated information can be found on the PPS website. Parents who so request are added to the PPS 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 PPS website. Click Here to view
16. What should I expect at a PPT?
That really depends on the purpose of the PPT. For an annual review you should expect that teachers working with your child review progress and create a revised 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 revised 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 SRBI/EIP 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 page mean?
Included in the ‘Welcome Packet” is a general description of each page of the IEP. If you don’t have a copy of the Welcome Packet, contact the PPS office. In addition, you can go to the Connecticut State Department of Special Education website or make an appointment with your child’s special education teacher to help you with specific questions.
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 PPS Improvement Plan goals?
PPS Improvement Plan Goals (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 following your child's 15th 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 Director of PPS 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.