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Learning Problems or Other Challenges: First Steps for Parents
Parents who have concerns about their childís academic achievement, behavior, health or social competence should discuss their concerns with the classroom teacher first. Teachers and parents working together often establish informal adjustments, such as changing the location of the student's desk or altering the format of homework assignments. We strongly encourage students to participate in our Accelerated Reader/Math Program and Success Maker Program. We expect them to complete their own work and do their personal best. Any student involved in giving or receiving of help with any program will forfeit all accumulated points and will not be eligible to attend any of the award ceremonies for these programs until the sufficient points have been received.
If the child needs further assistance, parents should contact the schoolís principal. The classroom teacher, counselor, school psychologist, nurse and administrator are available when needed. The PAT team serves as the initial "portal of entry" to consider an array of accommodations, interventions and services within the district.
The PAT process helps teachers to develop interventions that assist the student. Specific areas of concern are identified; information is gathered through observation, interview, review of school records and informal assessment. The PAT team develops new strategies to address the concerns of parents about their child. Classroom teachers may implement these strategies for several weeks. The PAT then reconvenes to assess the student's progress over time. A teacher may implement a behavior contract for a child who has had difficulty maintaining appropriate classroom behavior and completing classroom assignments.
The 504 Committee, composed of parents, teachers, the counselor, other individuals working with the student, and possibly the student, determines whether or not the student is eligible for an accommodation plan under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Section 504 is a broad Civil Rights Law protecting the rights of children and adults with disabilities in programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance.
A student may have a disability that does not affect his or her ability to learn, yet requires accommodations from the school to participate in the learning environment. The disability can be mild to severe, temporary or lifelong, obvious or hidden.
The 504 Committee determines if a student is eligible under Section 504. If so, a written
504 Accommodation Plan is developed. It describes the accommodations that are required for the student because of his or her disability. The 504 Plan is reviewed at least annually to determine continued eligibility and to revise the accommodations as needed. 504 Plans do not include any direct instruction, but rather necessary accommodations (such as the use of an elevator after breaking a leg) that the student needs to access the learning environment.
Exceptional Children Program Placement
Sometimes the student may require special education and related services because of a significant disability that adversely affects his or her ability to learn. Students qualify for services through procedures outlined in federal and state law.
The first step in the process is referral to the Exceptional Children (EC) Team. The EC
Team is composed of the studentís teachers, the school psychologist, the exceptional children program facilitator, other school personnel and the parent. The EC Team reviews all information and decides if a multi-disciplinary evaluation is warranted to determine if the student has a disability. The parent is asked to give written permission for the evaluation.
The evaluation of the child may include academic achievement, behavior, adaptive skills, cognitive ability, speech, language and other aspects of the studentís functioning.
The EC Team then reviews all evaluation results. The team determines whether or not the student meets the eligibility criteria and has the need for special education in North Carolina.
If the student is eligible for and needs specialized instruction, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) is developed.
The IEP is a written document that acts as the road map for the studentís special education and related services. The IEP states the goals and objectives that the student will work on for a one-year period. It also describes accommodations for the student in the classroom, testing accommodations and the amount and location of special education and related services.
A new IEP is written every year. At least every three years, the student is reevaluated to determine continued eligibility for special education.
State and federal law define the exceptional childrenís process. Every parent or guardian whose child is referred for special education will receive a copy of the handbook of Parents Rights. Additional information is on the district website at www.lenoir.k12.nc.us or on the state education website at www.dpi.state.nc.us.
The Procedures Governing Programs and Services for Children with Disabilities outlines the legal requirements in North Carolina for referral, evaluation, identification and placement of students in special education.