Special Education FAQs
How can parents become more involved in their child’s special education experience?
Parents are the foremost advocate for their child. We encourage parents to be actively engaged with their child’s teacher and administrator, and ask questions. Parents of students with disabilities have the right to request a case conference at any time. Elkhart Community Schools is in the early phases of developing a parent support group, specifically for parents of children with disabilities. Our goal for this group is to create a place where parents can collaborate with each other, learn more about topics related to special education, hear from different specialists in their fields, and work with leaders from the district. Additional information will be coming soon.
Is it true that ECS is moving towards total inclusion where there will no longer be intense intervention classrooms?
No. We are, however, committed to moving towards implementing more inclusive practices, but also honor the importance of the least restrictive environment. Our intense intervention teachers are specially trained in providing intensive, specifically designed instruction. We do not intend to discontinue intense intervention classrooms.
Is it true that ECS will no longer have a preschool program for students with disabilities?
No. We will continue to serve preschool students with disabilities, but it will look different moving forward. Starting in 2017-2018, students eligible for the 4 year old program will no longer attend the PACE Preschool. We are partnering with the Head Start programs in order to allow all students to learn together. Students will be integrated with their peers in Head Start classrooms across the district. The main preschool hub will be located at Mary Beck Elementary where 9 classrooms will be located. Special education goals and services will continue to be implemented.
Why can’t my child have an adult with them at all times?
Some students do require more assistance than others for health and safety concerns. For most students, as they get older, our goal is to foster independence. We work with students to help them learn how to plan, hang their coats, find the bathroom, and to ask questions when they do not know what to do. We’ve found that creating a schedule and a routine can help them at school, as well as at home.
What is the status of assistive technology at ECS?
For students with disabilities, having assistive technology can be liberating and empowering, and provide another opportunity for gained independence and growth. For testing, it allows students the opportunity for the read-aloud portion to be done in private – no one knows if a student is receiving this assistance. If a student with disabilities requires assistive technology, it is being provided by the district. As Elkhart Community Schools rolls out 1-to-1 technology, all students will have a device. We’re currently working with teachers on how to best optimize technology for our students.
-Tina Northern, director of special education
Elkhart Community Schools