Letter regarding Student Support Services

Letter from theAssistant Superintendent of Student Support Services

March 14, 2020

By now, each of you have read the letter and informational email from Superintendent Maines regarding COVID-19 and the temporary closure of the Douglas Public Schools. I would like to provide you with detailed information surrounding special education during this time. Yesterday, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) held a teleconference for all special education administrators and provided guidance and laws from their standpoint, as well as the Federal Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). Below, I have outlined the details for students with special education needs, responsibilities of liaisons, Special Education timelines, scheduled meetings, MCAS and Special Education events.

 

Students and Services

As determined by the DESE, for Districts that are not providing educational services during school closure times, which we are not, the District is not obligated to provide the students with direct IEP services or Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). This means we are not providing special education (IEP services) for the next two weeks.  However, this does not mean that educators will not provide support to our students with special education needs through means of technology or telephone.

 

Responsibility of Special Education Teachers/Service Providers/ABAs/Paraprofessionals

Special Education teachers and service providers will be available to students through either email or Google Classroom (if pertinent) to respond to questions on academic work that students are engaged in while at home. ABAs and paraprofessionals will assist specific students through the guidance of their lead teacher. A time frame of 9:00AM-12:00PM has been determined for educators to be available to students. Teachers may use other vehicles to engage students or to share work expectations with them. This will be determined through the collaboration of the Special Education teacher and the General Education teacher, then relayed to service providers, ABAs and paraprofessionals. Special Education liaisons will be in contact with families frequently, to ensure that students are able to access the packets or assignments that were sent home. School Psychologists, School Adjustment Counselors, the Behavior Specialist, Flex Center teachers, and the STARS/STRIPES teacher will contact families on a daily basis to check in on the social, emotional and behavioral status of the students. These staff members will communicate with each other to determine who should be in contact with families as according to the students' status.

 

Special Education Timelines

It has been acknowledged by the DESE that special education testing can not occur if school is not in session. The State is working to exercise their ability to adjust timelines. There will be more information to come.

 

Scheduled Meetings

I will be reaching out to families shortly regarding meetings that have been scheduled for the next two weeks. I will be working with our Technology Director to see if we can hold Virtual Meetings.

 

MCAS

At this time, there have been no changes to MCAS timelines.

 

Special Education Events

The April Teen Night Out (TNO) has been cancelled. We will continue to plan for the TNO Cinco De Mayo event, Special Olympics and Unified Sports in May. We will make decisions in accordance with the developments surrounding COVID-19.

 

I will stay in constant communication with all Douglas families that have a student that benefits from special education services or Section 504 acommodations. As information is presented and solidified from a perspective of special education by the DESE and/or OSEP, you will be notified. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and please let me know if you have any questions!

 

Nealy Urquhart

Assistant Superintendent of Student Support Services

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