Exceptional Education Newsletter

March 2023


  • Compliance Corner
  • Message from the Behavior Analysts
  • Assistive Technology Tip of the Month
  • Message from Intensive Support Teams
  • Virginia Alternate Assessment Program Information
  • Message from Transition Mentor Teachers
  • SEAC
  • Professional Development Opportunties
  • Shout outs
  • Previous Issues


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Continue to help our students SMILE!

All students must have an assigned case manager in VA IEP. If you have a student who is in the initial eligibility process, assign the ICC as the case manager until the process has been completed.

Continue to work on obtaining signatures from parents to finalize and bring the IEP process compliant in VA IEP. Here are some ways schools have obtained parent signatures:

1. Use Parent Portal.

2. Schedule a time for parents to come to the school to sign.

3. Use the Office of Engagement as a resource.

4. Add all February contacts made to acquire parental signatures on the Out of Compliance Spreadsheet under the ICC Comments.

Continue to work with your case managers to ensure all annual IEP and eligibility meetings are scheduled for students. Each student must have a compliant and up-to-date IEP and eligibility. ICCs and principals will receive a February analysis of out of compliance students.

March Updates:

March compliance updates are due by March 24, 2023.

1. March updates for Indicators 9, 10, and 11 should be added to the google forms in your school drive used for January and February data. Ms. White is working with Mr. Mitchell to update the use of these indicators tracker forms. Continue to review the trackers for compliance ONLY. No corrections can be made to these forms.

2. Use the tracker forms for the December 1st, ASPEN, Exit Report, IEP, and 504 compliance. You do not have to provide any comments to these trackers. You are only reviewing them for accuracy. The IEP and 504 Plan compliance trackers should be used to ensure that IEPS and 504 Plans are up to date monthly. If there are any changes to the ASPEN tab the change must be made in ASPEN. The student will then show accurately on the tracker.

3. If any corrections are needed to the December 1st tracker please email Ms. White.

4. As schools hold IEP meetings for English Learners, Language Instruction Educational Program (LIEP) teachers should be invited to participate as team members.

March ICC Meetings

Elementary ICC Meeting- March 21st Virtual

Secondary ICC Meeting- March 23rd Virtual

New ICCs Meeting- March 17th Virtual

ICC Advisory Committee- March 22nd Virtual


Special education law specifically states that teachers, related services providers, and others who work with a student with an IEP must have easy access to the child’s IEP. As the Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) should be implemented with the same standards, then staff who work with the student should also have easy access to the student’s BIP. Not only do professionals need access, but they also must review and understand the concepts in the BIP in order to adhere to the plan and meet the students’ needs effectively. Remember, the BIP is not just a document; it is an action plan to provide students with the safety and support they need.

ICCs are responsible for coordinating with staff to ensure that they are trained and understand how to implement the BIP. Please stress to staff that they have a legal and ethical obligation to execute the BIP as written by the IEP team.

The student's BIP is to remain confidential and not disclosed to any other person who does not have need of accessing and implementing the plan. Such policy must be developed in accordance with the confidentiality requirements in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

(Please see the table below for more information about who needs access to the BIP)

IEP teams should consider the following issues as they relate to the distribution of BIPs:

  • Will copies of a student’s BIP be provided in electronic or paper format?

  • Who will determine for each student which teachers, related service providers, and other service providers (as defined in the regulations) have responsibility to implement the interventions in a student’s BIP?

  • Who will inform the teachers and others of their BIP implementation responsibilities?

  • What procedures will be used to ensure paraprofessionals have an opportunity to review and be trained on the BIP interventions and have ongoing access to a copy?

  • What documentation will the school use to maintain a record of the personnel who have received BIP copies for each student?

  • What training and information will the school provide to school personnel to ensure the confidentiality of such information?

Ways to Access BCBA Support:

  • Staff can ask individual support questions during the BCBA monthly Virtual Office Hours. The next meeting is scheduled from 3:00 - 4:30 PM on March 21st.

  • Staff can request support for an FBA/BIP for an individual student through the BCBA Referral form.

Professional Learning Options:

  • ICCs and/or Administrators can request professional learning for their specific building, using the BCBA Referral Form.

  • Staff can attend monthly webinars on FBA/BIP topics. The next webinar is scheduled for March 9, 2023 from 4:00-5:00 PM where the Division BCBAs will be discussing Identifying and Teaching Antecedent Strategies.

  • Staff are invited to attend a full day FBA/BIP training on April 14, 2023 to learn the new process from start to finish. This professional development will help you to walk away feeling confident in supporting your school in the new process. ICCs who participated in the ICC summer academy would not need to attend. Click here to register through KickUp.

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Dining Aids for Eating

Adapted Utensils, Plates and Bowls

Some students use adapted utensils designed to help them dine independently. Specialized forks and spoons may have built up handles, may be curved, or can be either heavier or lighter than normal cutlery. Built up handles make the utensil easier to grip. Curved utensils assist with “hand to mouth” feeding for those with limited wrist and arm control. Weighted forks and spoons help with stability if a student has a tremor.
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Adaptive plates and bowls include features such as scoop rims and non-skid surfaces, which make it easier for the student to eat with utensils. A plate or bowl with a curved and higher lip on one side allows for easier scooping without spilling.

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Adaptive dining aids help students with motor challenges eat more independently and with greater confidence! Consult with your school’s occupational therapist for more information about adaptations for activities of daily living.

(Photos from https://www.especialneeds.com/)


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This month we’d like to focus on students with visual impairments and visual fatigue. Many people experience visual fatigue, and students with visual impairments are often hit extra hard by several fatigue related concerns.

For students in the classroom, These can include:

  • Difficulty maintaining monocular vision
  • Decreased accommodation abilities
  • Glare sensitivity
  • Decreased contrast sensitivity
  • Central vision loss (including decreased visual acuities and
  • central scotomas)

In order to help students with visual fatigue, try to be understanding and aware of the challenges they will face later in the day, or after extended periods of doing the same viewing types (like on computer or reading text).

Also consider:

  • Giving breaks
  • Breaking up visual information so that less is on the page
  • Breaking up types of visual tasks needed
  • Allow for varying lighting and postures to accommodate

More information about visual fatigue and many other visual impairment topics can be found at: https://www.pathstoliteracy.org/


Important VAAP Dates:

  • VAAP Test Window: February 27, 2023 to April 28, 2023

  • VAAP Scoring Training: March 24, 2023

  • VAAP Binders need to be scored by May 5, 2023

  • VAAP Binder data needs to be entered by May 12, 2023

  • VAAP Binder Audit: May 15-19, 2023

VAAP Resources

VAAP online Resources


Recorded VAAP training Intensive Support and Private Day

Training Sessions for 2022-2023


Transition Tip: When developing the transition section of the IEP, three assessments are needed. Please ensure you are completing both a formal and informal assessment for the current school year. The informal assessment should also include the parental interview. The summary of the assessment should speak to the student’s specific results (not just a general summary of what the assessment measures). These results will then be used to drive goals and activities for your student.

Examples of formal assessments:


VA Wizard

Career Test

Career One Stop

Mark your calendars! The following partners will be in your schools this month!

Armstrong High School

  • March 14th and 21st: A Peace of Mind-Job exploration and job preference development workshops to include counseling on educational and training options.

  • March 15th : Office of Community Wealth Building-Career Preparation Session to include resume writing and soft skills training.

  • March 30th: DARS work session to include pre-employment transition services in the 4 areas of job exploration, educational and training, workplace readiness and self-advocacy.

George Wythe High School

  • March 28: Military Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB). The ASVAB is a standardized test that reveals areas of strength and ability in science, math, and language. Taking the test is one of the first steps before you enlist.

Huguenot High School

  • March 30th: Apprenticeship Fair Local trade groups will come to provide students with information on what is required to apply for an apprenticeship as well as the benefits of the jobs.

  • March 31st: IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers)-Aptitude Electrician test

Thomas Jefferson High School

  • March 20th: Apprenticeship Fair Local trade groups will come to provide students with information on what is required to apply for an apprenticeship as well as the benefits of the jobs.

RPS Transition Mentor Team

Darlene Slade: Huguenot High, Thomas Jefferson High, River City Middle


Selina Wilson: John Marshall High, Henderson Middle, Richmond Alternative School & THRIVE


Karen Young: George Wythe High, Lucille Brown Middle, Boushall Middle


Rebecca Parks: Armstrong High School, Martin Luther King Middle School, Albert Hill Middle School, Binford Middle School



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The March meeting for SEAC has been moved to Wednesday, March 29th @ 6:30. We will be hearing from Dr. Volley as she summarizes the Exceptional Education annual report. We would love for you to join us!


Please continue to register for RPS professional learning opportunities through KickUp. https://www.kickup.co/

The Office of Special Education Instructional Services provides a direct line of communication with Virginia’s educators, paraprofessionals, and special education administrators and focuses on specially designed instruction for students with disabilities. This publication provides a way to share new resources as well as make educators aware of professional development opportunities of interest.

All educators are encouraged to subscribe and receive these Special Education Instructional Services emails directly from the VDOE.

2023 Youth & Family Summit

The 2023 Youth & Family Summit is a three-day, in-person event for youth with disabilities, ages 14-18, in Virginia to network with others and discuss important issues about youth and young adults with disabilities. It will take place June 13-15, 2023, at James Madison University. This year’s event will focus on three key components of self-determination: Competence, Autonomy, and Relatedness.

The event is run by the I’m Determined State Team and sponsored by the Virginia Department of Education and the Partnership for People with Disabilities. Those interested in attending must complete the required 2023 Summit Application by midnight on Sunday, February 12, 2023. All costs including paid lodging, meals, and mileage reimbursement to and from the event are covered.

Journey into Teaching Academy
The VDOE Department of Special Education and Student Services is announcing its fifth cohort of the Journey into Teaching Academy. The Academy is a yearlong professional development initiative for teachers completing their second year of teaching by the end of the 2022-2023 school year and entering their third year of teaching during the 2023-2024 SY as a provisionally licensed special education teacher. Completed applications are due to the VDOE by April 1. For more information about this initiative and the application process, please see Superintendent's Memo 039-23.

GWLA staff applications due by March 15
Teachers and Resident Assistants are needed for the French, German, and Spanish Governor's World Language Academies. These are three-week residential programs for the state's most talented and motivated world language students. Housing and meals are provided, along with a set salary based on position type. Apply today!

Blue Skies Blended Learning Workshops Continue
Virtual Virginia's series of blended learning workshops will return on Thursday, March 16, at 3 p.m. Led by blended learning expert and Instructure Principal Learning Consultant Evette Davis, these sessions continue to focus on practical applications and provide tips, tools, and techniques that educators can begin using immediately. Register now for the next workshop topic: Blended Learning for Secondary Teachers. For questions about the Blue Skies Blended Learning Workshop Series, please contact Professional Learning Coordinator Steven Sproles.

World Language Advancement and Readiness Program Grants
The Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) seeks innovative applications that identify and implement evidence-based practices to meet the academic needs of the highly mobile military-connected students in their community and applications which establish, improve, or expand world language programs targeting elementary and secondary students. DoDEA intends to award multiple grants, subject to the availability of funds. Find out more information today!

Work-Based Learning: Professional Development Needs - March 20
The VA Work-Based Learning Collaboration Group and Virginia Ed Strategies invites WBL coordinators, CTE teachers and directors, and others to discuss the professional learning needs of those developing and managing work-based learning experiences of students. Register in advance for a Zoom session and join the discussion facilitated by Chris Jones, VASCD, and Jennifer Stevens, Virginia Ed Strategies, in an effort to identify topics for upcoming workshops and events. Email meyerdn@pwcs.edu if interested in connecting with this group.

Application for the Science Standards Revision Committee
The VDOE is seeking K-12 public school educators who are qualified and available to serve on the Standards Development Committee which will meet during the summer of 2023. Applicants may include teachers, principals, administrators, content specialists, or others who have expertise with the content areas and the standards. Educators who wish to serve on the Standards Development Committee to develop the Science Standards of Learning for the 11 courses must submit an application through the online platform by April 21. See Superintendent’s Memo 044-23 for details.

CTE-Creating Excellence Awards for 2022-2023
The secondary and postsecondary awards recognize excellence in the following categories: CTE exemplary programs, advisory committees, and business and industry partnerships. There are three levels of recognition: local, regional, and state. Find out more information today!

Application for the English Standards Revision Committee
The VDOE English Program is seeking nominations from division superintendents for individuals who are qualified and available to serve on the English Standards Revision Committee to review the K-12 English Standards of Learning during the summer of 2023. Nominees should be teachers, principals, administrators, content specialists, reading specialists, or other educators who have expertise with the content area and current standards. Individuals who wish to serve on a committee to review the K-12 English Standards of Learning must submit an application through the web-based process. The application will require a professional reference and division approval. Completed applications are due to the VDOE by March 10. See Superintendent's Memo 026-23 for details.


M.A.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction-Music Education
Virginia Tech’s Master of Arts in Education in Curriculum & Instruction with a focus in Music Education is designed for students who have completed a Bachelor of Arts in Music or a similar degree program and desire to pursue a masters with teacher licensure. The graduate program is set up in a cohort model, and students can usually complete the program in 2 years or less. Join the virtual information session on March 23 at 7:30 p.m. or email Dr. Catheryn Foster, Program Coordinator for more information.

Leadership in Mathematics Education
Earn a Master’s Degree or an Educational Specialist Degree focused on Leadership in Mathematics Education from Regent University’s online programs. Grow your teaching career in this high-demand area as you also influence improvement in school mathematics programs. The coursework aligns with the competencies needed to earn the Virginia Mathematics Specialist endorsement for elementary and/or middle education. Email Dr. Darwin Mills with any questions.

ESOL and World Language Education Information Session
George Mason University will offer an informational webinar on their ESOL and World Language Education programs on March 9 at 7 p.m. Faculty and staff will be on hand to present an overview of the program and the application process and answer questions. Register online to attend the virtual information session or email to learn more about the program.

Elementary Education Program
George Mason University’s Elementary Education (ELED) program offers multiple pathways to licensure in PK-6 classrooms via day and evening synchronous and face to face formats. Earn licensure plus your bachelor’s degree or master’s degree to work with PK-6 students in as few as four semesters. See the program website for more information or contact Dr. Audra Parker, Program Coordinator with questions.

Special Education Master’s Degree and/or Endorsement
Are you interested in growing professionally and learning more ways to help your special needs students find success? Earn a Master’s Degree focused on Special Education through our hybrid residency model designed for working professionals. Graduate students learn through experience with meaningful support from faculty and peers within their learning community. If you have already have a master’s degree, consider Longwood University’s Special Education Endorsement courses to prepare you to teach students with diverse learning needs. Email for more information!

Administration & Supervision M.Ed Information Session
The University of Virginia M.Ed program in Administration & Supervision prepares the next generation of educational leaders in school districts across Virginia. This synchronous online program uses evidence-based leadership practices and improvement science to assist leaders as they guide the teaching of excellent instructors, manage the complex needs of students and parents, and help orchestrate school reform. Register for a virtual information session. Deadline for summer admission is April 21.

Summer and Fall M.Ed. and Endorsement Programs
Averett University will be hosting virtual information sessions throughout the month of March to share information about their Gifted, SpEd, Reading Specialist, Math Specialist, and Administration & Supervision M.Ed. and Endorsement programs for the summer and fall. Programs and coursework are available to support provisionally licensed SpEd teachers as well. Register for an information sessions or email questions to Dr. Jaime Stacy, M.Ed. Program Director.

Education Leadership Program
The George Mason University Education Leadership Program offers several program options to fit the needs of full-time working educators interested in advancing their careers by earning a Master's degree or Graduate Certificate in Education Leadership. Email for information or register for a virtual session hosted by Dr. Shahrokhi, Education Leadership & Policy Division Director on: March 7, March 23, or March 29. Campus hybrid and fully online program formats are offered or regional cohorts in: Stafford County, Prince William County and Loudoun County in Summer; and Fairfax County and Arlington County/Alexandria City school districts in Fall.


I observed an excellent lesson at Armstrong, with Ms. Garthwaite (general ed) and Mr. Redford (ex ed). The students were working on writing essays, and I loved the strategies the teachers provided for the students: a writing template, a graphic organizer to obtain information online, and small groups and paired learning opportunities. The students were engaged and both teachers supported the students. I also loved the welcoming, calm, peaceful environment created in this classroom!

Shout out to Chante Johnson at Lucille Brown- she is an energetic and caring teacher who works hard for our visually impaired student and all her students!

Juanzel Cardoza-Felder, High School Instructional Specialist, is an incredible asset to the division and to the Exceptional Education department. Thanks to her hard work with schools on credit accommodations, all mid year graduates (SWDs) walked across the stage and graduated! Ms. Cardoza-Felder has worked tirelessly with each high school to ensure students requiring credit accommodations have the paperwork developed correctly so that they, too, can graduate at the end of the 2022-2023 school year. Ms. Cardoza-Felder is incredibly dedidcated and devoted to the staff and students of RPS!

Chris Angeles, SPED Specialist, Central Office - I am so appreciative of Mr. Angeles and the support he provides to the SPED staff at William Fox Elementary School. Thank you for all that you do!

Nicole Nelson Intensive Support Teacher at Overby Sheppard Elementary School. Ms. Nelson is a very caring and nurturing teacher. Her students have excelled under her classroom leadership! One of her students recently transitioned to the general education classroom. We are proud to have her as a part of our Exceptional Education Team.

Karen Young, Transition Mentor Teacher at George Wythe High School goes above and beyond to ensure students are introduced and exposed to many career opportunities that they might otherwise not experience. She works diligently to provide exciting and valuable presentations in financial literacy and apprenticeships. Thank you Ms. Young!

Jacqueline Drye - Assistant Principal - Exceptional Education Designee - She consistently support our Expectational Education Program at Barack Obama Elementary School. She gives of her time, knowledge and guidance to ensure the needs of all students at met.

I would like to just recognize the Case managers in the Special Education Department at Ginter Park Elementary School for their dedication and working hard to teach across grade levels to ensure students services and preparing our students for current and upcoming assessments. Thanks to our Casemanagers: Mrs. Askale, Mrs. Dunnavant, Ms. Hawkins, and Mr. Holi! Keep up the good work! Let's continue to support one another and our students!

Pam Ragin and Nicole Glover they are the dynamic duo with training SPED teachers, supporting SWD's and compliance. They are appreciated!!!!

Phyllis Lupini, Speech-Language Pathologist Maymont Preschool Reception and Diagnostic Team, and Preschool Lead Speech-Language Pathologist In her work on the Preschool Reception and Diagnostic Team, Ms. Lupini is one of the first Exceptional Education team members that parents of preschool aged students meet when they have concerns about their child's communication development. Ms. Lupini has a gentle way of providing education about speech and language development, while comforting them to know that they have partners who care about their child's communication and overall development. In addition, in her role as the Lead Preschool Speech-Language Pathologist, she maintains ongoing guidance and support for other SLPs who serve preschool students, and she often serves as a mentor for therapists who are at the beginning of their work experiences. Once they have moved beyond her mentorship, she keeps a watchful eye on them for many years as they progress along their career paths. Ms. Lupini is a disciplined, reliable and highly regarded Speech-Language Pathologist. Thank you Ms. Lupini for always going the extra mile, and for doing so with humility, compassion and integrity. Our Exceptional Education Speech-Language Pathology department, students and families are fortunate to have you on our team!!

I would like to shout-out the ECSE Integrative Services Team: Brandi Rucker, Natasha Dandles, Chrissy Springfield and Helena Edwards. These ladies are so compassionate about their jobs, students and families. They were given assignments at the beginning of the school year to be the classroom teacher for three ECSE self-contained classrooms that did not have a teacher. These sites included: Blackwell Preschool Center, Southampton Elementary and Oak Grove-Bellemeade Elementary. Anytime these ladies are asked to do a task, they are always willing to support the ECSE program, such as completing developmental assessments, writing reports and providing services to students in the general education setting, along with fulfilling their caseload assignments in the community. I just want to thank them for always being selfless and considering the needs of others. Thank you ladies, you ROCK!!!!

Allison Crump; Exceptional Ed. Teacher; grade 1 Henry Marsh ES Ms. Crump goes the extra mile to check in on her peers. She takes the time to ask how we are doing in the hallways and will even come into a classroom, if she has not seen us in a while. She also is supportive in making sure tasks are complete, as she will inquire if we began to make updates to documents, etc. Ms. Crump also shows compassion toward her students and ensures they receive their allotted service time. She makes lemonade out of lemons!

Shout our to Carol Trent ICC at JMHS!!!! Ms. Trent originally submitted the SPLAVC spreadsheet and was provided feedback regarding the justification statements. Ms. Trent received the feedback and made the necessary changes. KUDOS to Ms. Trent!!!!!!!!!! The statement now have all of the required information required by the VDOE! Thank you Ms. Trent for your cooperation.

Merritte Shanni in second grade. She is always present and willing to help anytime I have a question.

Scholar Cardwell, ICC at Boushall Middle School, continues to displaying passion, patience, and professionalism all while ensuring student success.


Additional previous issues can be found on the RPS website under the Office of Exceptional Education. Please use the following link: https://www.rvaschools.net/academics/exceptionaleducation