Where do we start? As parents of a child with special needs, it’s often overwhelming to know where to begin when searching for the optimum educational environment. In the beginning, it often seems like a maze.
So, in an effort to assist you, SEPACs asked Lois Healey, Director of Special Education Services in the Scottsdale Unified School District, to contribute to our blog. Here is her first post in a series of Frequently Asked Questions, that we will be posting throughout the school year.
How does a parent of a child with special needs learn about what services are available in the district?
This frequently asked question has an answer with several different paths to take to learn about resources.
If a family is new to the District, a phone call to the District Special Education office will take them to an administrator who will explain the process of beginning with the “home” school and working with the IEP team at that site to determine appropriate placement. The phone number is 480-484-5032.
If a family is currently enrolled in the District and, for any number of reasons, may need additional information regarding services, the family should begin by requesting an IEP meeting with the current team. This meeting may need to include the school psychologist and/or a District Special Education Administrator who has knowledge of district-wide services and can assist in designing what is most appropriate for the individual student. It is important that the parent or any other team member who is requesting the meeting be clear in what the purpose of the meeting is and what is to be accomplished.
Program descriptions and site locations are available for parents and can be obtained at each school office; however, any changes in placement must be determined by the IEP team as set forth in IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Act). After an IEP team has documented the need for placement changes, visitation will be arranged for families to observe the discussed programs before a final decision is made. This process may take several weeks, but is designed in the best interest of the student.
It is requested that program visits be made with a psychologist or other special education administrator or support staff member. This procedure exists in an effort to cause as little disruption as possible for the teacher and students who are being observed. At the same time parents are able to have their questions answered in a timely manner by the person accompanying them on the visit. District policy also requires that each visitor sign in at the school office and carry or wear a visitor’s name tag.
This information is intended to be helpful in providing guidance in making the special education “highway” as easy to navigate as possible. Staying on the path will keep lines of communication open and the focus will always remain on the student.