Exceptional Education Newsletter

May 2022


Compliance Corner

Teacher Tip

May is Better Hearing & Speech Month

Message from the Behavior Analysts

Assistive Technology Tip of the Month

Message from Transition Mentor Teachers


Professional Development Opportunities


Previous Issues


May Updates:

  1. May updates to the December 1 Child Count, Indicators 9, 10, 11, the Out of Compliance Spreadsheet and Exit Report are due on May 27th

  2. The School Closing Certification Form is due by June 21, 2022.

  3. Each school will need to identify the IEP team members for any IEP meetings that will need to be held during the summer. The names for each school team must be submitted to the Coordinator of Systems and Processes no later than May 30th.

Indicator and Reports Directions:

  1. Instructional and Compliance Coordinators (ICCs) should indicate "none," followed by the month of submission when there is no new information to report.

  2. Revisions to the Out of Compliance Report should be captured each month under the ICC Comments. All students listed on the spreadsheet should have an update. If there is no update next to each student the spreadsheet will be deemed non-compliant. For students that require a parental signature ONLY, there must be an indication of how case managers reached out to parents to obtain signatures.

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

May ICC Meetings

May 12th- Secondary ICCs

May 24th-Elementary ICCs

May 18th – PCG Playbook session.


All students must have an assigned case manager in VA IEP. If you have a student 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.

5. DocuSign

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.

Manifestation Determination Meetings:

Please be mindful that when a student with a disability already has 10 days of OSS, another suspension cannot be carried out without an MDR being completed first. The student’s services should be provided in the school setting until the MDR has been completed. The Regulations Governing Special Education Programs for Children with Disabilities in Virginia state concerning the MDR: The local educational agency, the parent(s), and relevant members of the child’s IEP team, as determined by the parent and the local educational agency, constitute the IEP team that shall convene immediately, if possible, but no later than 10 school days after the date on which the decision to take the action is made. Please be sure that the MDR Meetings are taking place as required by VDOE regulations and the RPS Exceptional Education Procedural Manual page 59-66.


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Hannah Clayman, an Exceptional Education teacher at Albert Hill, creates scaffolded graphic organizers to assist her 8th-grade students with learning through the EL. Since the EL already emphasizes differentiated instruction, Ms. Clayman simply adds scaffolds in areas where her students might get stuck. Scaffolds allow her students to learn alongside their peers in a way that still meets the needs of each individual student.


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Did you know that May is Better Hearing & Speech Month?

Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) across the country work with children and adults who have communication disorders. The focus of the work for SLPs who work in our schools is to enhance the communication abilities of our students. SLPs work to remediate, improve, or alleviate our students' communication difficulties with articulation, receptive language, expressive language and/or social communication. SLPs may even work with students who have eating or swallowing problems that affect them within their educational environment.

The American-Speech-Language-Hearing Association's theme for this May is “Connecting People”.

If you haven't already done so, please take a moment to connect with, and give a special shout-out to your school's Speech-Language Pathologist, in celebration of May is Better Hearing & Speech Month!


Functions of Behavior

They say, everything happens for a reason. We also have to keep in mind that our students display behavior (appropriate and problem behavior) for a reason. This reason or “why” is known as the function of behavior.

Students are typically trying to get/obtain something or escape/avoid something. The good news is that we can further narrow these reasons into three categories. We either want to get/obtain or escape/avoid the following:

  • Attention (positive or negative attention from adults or peers)

  • Tangible (items, activities, or experiences)

  • Sensory (activities or experiences that meet your sensory needs)

Understanding the function, or the reason the student is engaging in problem behavior, is critical to designing interventions and instruction. Effective interventions based on the behavior’s function will help the student to reduce problem behavior and increase appropriate responses to get their needs met. Students may engage in behavior to meet multiple functions, but those functions will fall under one of these three categories.

This Four Functions of Behavior article provides more information on the functions of behavior and provides some potential solutions and suggestions for developing function-based supports.

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Students in our schools communicate in lots of different ways. For example, most of our students might talk, but some students use signs, and others use symbols or pictures to communicate. RPS wants to celebrate these differences and make a stronger, more inclusive community for our schools. That’s why universal core boards will soon be placed around the hallways and playgrounds of designated schools. These boards use core vocabulary or words that are used most frequently when we speak. When you see these boards on the playground, in the cafeteria, or in the hallways, please feel free to use them! Not only will it help us communicate with students who use symbols and make them feel included, but it will also teach our general education students that everyone matters!

Look for Core Boards at Maymont Preschool, Blackwell Preschool, Miles Jones Elementary, Carver Elementary, Munford Elementary, River City Middle, Boushall Middle, & Armstrong High.

Copy and Paste these links in your browser for a better view and to print!

School building core board: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1tP1fXED1mbbJ6MpbM-OMVaCUe5_Cxsh0/view?usp=sharing

Playground core board: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1cJrCAxPOu7FLPYUNDzpQWrRxT9aGWWLJ/view?usp=sharing


Transition Tip of the month:

Parent/Guardian Engagement in the Transition Process

Parents/Guardians are valuable team members, who have a wealth of knowledge to contribute during the transition planning process. They provide insight on daily living functioning, community experiences, family and peer relationships, and leisure time activities and interests. This information is pertinent to the postsecondary planning process. Parental input at each transition meeting can help to ensure that the appropriate courses are selected for students and that the appropriate supports are implemented. Research shows that student outcomes improve when family members and caregivers are actively engaged in the transition process. Schools need to ensure that families are engaged participants in the secondary transition process. Let’s guarantee our parents a voice!

Transition Action in RPS Schools!

Armstrong High School:

Mr. Gray’s, Ms. Hampton’s, and Mr. Armstrong's classes have been teaching their students the art of automotive detailing. Their students will be hosting a car wash fundraiser on May 13 from 10am-1pm. Please come out and support this event!

Thomas Jefferson:

Students have been energetically learning about horticulture and landscaping job skills. Many of the seeds that they cultivated in their greenhouse are beginning to grow! The flowers that they produce will be used as part of the school’s beautification project.

Huguenot High School:

Huguenot High hosted a Chat & Chew with SOAR 365. Parents, students, and staff members had the opportunity to learn more about this community based agency and the benefits it provides to students and families after graduation. In partnership with families, SOAR 365 provides life fulfilling opportunities for students with disabilities.

Huguenot also hosted a Meet and Greet for seniors with their DARS representative, Ms. Charisma Bass. The students met and chatted with Mr. Marcus Marks, a job coach, who explained how job coaching could be beneficial to students’ post-secondary planning. Both events were a huge success.

George Wythe High School:

George Wythe hosted a financial workshop for students. Mr. Chris Woodbury and Mr. Robert Williams from the Virginia Credit Union shared information pertaining to post secondary financial responsibilities, and offered students the opportunity to open credit Union accounts. The Students were completely engaged and very thankful for the opportunity.

John Marshall High School:

John Marshall High School hosted a Secure the Bag career fair in partnership with Communities in Schools, the YMCA and Network 2 Work. Students were provided the opportunity to connect with over 32 career vendors. Some students received scheduled interview opportunities from salary competitive companies!

Virginia State University’s office of VCAN (Virginia College Affordability Network) & Strategic Initiatives, along with representatives from the current VSU freshman class, provided an overview of campus life at VSU to a group of Seniors. VSU explained to these students how opportunities and processes regarding how students can receive a free college education!

Upcoming Events: Mark your Calendars!

Armstrong High School

June 13th: DMV Mobile Unit- Identification Card Registration 10:00am-3:00pm

Thomas Jefferson High School

Ongoing throughout May: GRTC Travel Training, Job Exploration Trips,

School Landscaping and Beautification

June 16th: DMV Mobile Unit- Identification Card Registration 10:00am-3:00pm

John Marshall High School

May 26th: DMV Mobile Unit- Identification Card Registration 10:00am-3:00pm

May- GRTC Travel Training

George Wythe High School

May 18th: Career Fair 3:00pm-6:00pm

June 2nd: DMV Mobile Unit- Identification Card Registration 10:00am-3:00pm

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Huguenot High School:

June 3rd: Student Transition Fair 1:00pm-4:00pm

June 23rd: DMV Mobile Unit- Identification Card Registration 10:00am-3:00pm

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Need help with transition? Reach out to the Transition Mentor Teachers!

Darlene Slade, Huguenot High, and River City Middle


Selina Wilson, John Marshall High, Henderson Middle, and RAS


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


Rebecca Parks, Thomas Jefferson High, Albert Hill Middle, and Binford Middle


Kaitlynn Rollins, Armstrong High, and Martin Luther King Jr. Middle



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The next SEAC meeting will be held in-person on June 15th starting at 6:30. We are still looking for a location. There will be a celebration of this year and looking forward to next year. Please join us for pizza and to learn more about SEAC!


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Professional Development

Dyslexia 101 Registration: bit.ly/SOEProfDevelopment

July 27-30: JMU Content Academies (all available PD listed below) New

3.1 June 27-28 Co-Teaching For Elementary Reading and Mathematics Teachers

Academy The VDOE is seeking elementary teachers, with their co-teaching partners, who co-teach mathematics and reading to participate in this academy. Its focus will be on improving content understanding, pedagogical strategies, collaboration/co-teaching strategies, and specially designed instruction in mathematics and reading. A $200 stipend will be provided to each participant who attends all of this academy’s sessions. For additional information or questions, contact Kristin Williams-Faus, Mathematics, and Special Education Specialist, by email at Kristin.Williams-Faus@doe.virginia.gov.

3.2 June 27-28 Instructional Practices for Teachers of Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities

This academy is designed for educators and professionals who teach and support students with significant cognitive disabilities and will provide strategies, instructional resources, and make-and-take materials to support the Virginia Essentialized Standards of Learning instruction for the upcoming 2022-2023 school year. A $200 stipend will be paid to participants upon verification of successful completion of this academy. For additional information or questions, contact Deborah Johnson, Intellectual Disabilities Specialist, by email at Deborah.Johnson@doe.virginia.gov.

3.3 June 27-30 Adaptive Physical Education Academy

The target audience for this academy is a kindergarten through twelfth-grade health and physical education teachers and program supervisors. Participants will explore the importance of physical activity and its contribution to physical, emotional, and cognitive development. Additionally, participants will learn about assessment methods, eligibility for services, and instructional design; development of individualized education programs; adaptations, modifications, and the use of assistive technology for physical education; behavior management; collaboration and consultation skills; advocacy and inclusive practices; and family life education, including community and family resources. A $300 stipend will be paid to participants upon verification of successful completion of this academy. For additional information or questions, contact Deborah Johnson, Intellectual Disabilities Specialist, by email at Deborah.Johnson@doe.virginia.gov.

3.4 June 29-30 Augmenting Mathematics and Special Ed.

This academy is designed for middle school mathematics (grades 6-8) and Algebra I co-teaching teams. Its focus will be on improving content understanding, pedagogical strategies, co-teaching strategies, and specially designed instruction in mathematics. A $200 stipend will be provided to each participant who attends all of this academy’s sessions. For additional information or questions, contact Kristin Williams-Faus, Mathematics and Special Education Specialist, by email at Kristin.Williams-Faus@doe.virginia.gov.

3.5 June 29-30 Secondary English Co-teaching Academy

This academy is intended for middle and high school English and special education teacher teams. The focus will be on improving content understanding, pedagogical strategies, and collaboration/co-teaching strategies in reading and writing. A $200 stipend will be provided to each participant who attends all of this academy’s sessions. For additional information or questions, contact Kim Bausum-Brown, Dyslexia, and Specialized Reading Specialist, by email at Kim.Bausum-Brown@doe.virginia.gov.

*The VDOE will assume the cost of registration and meals, including reimbursement for lodging for all public school participants. School divisions are encouraged to cover travel expenses for participants as this cost is not assumed by VDOE.

Virginia Council for Learning Disabilities Annual Symposium
Join your peers for this Symposium on May 21 at Virginia Wesleyan University. The theme is Educational Partnerships: Yours + Mine = Ours. Breakout sessions include topics such as co-teaching/inclusion, technology, culturally responsive teaching, evidence-based practices and more. Register today!

SURN Summer Professional Learning
SURN at William & Mary’s School of Education is offering teachers a variety of 5-week, online, asynchronous courses. Register for one or more summer events:
●Deeper Learning: Unpacking the 5 Cs (July 5-August 5)
●For the Joy of Learning: Cultivating Student Engagement (July 5-August 5) ●Engaging Students In Meaningful Formative Assessment (July 5-August 5) ●Mentoring and Coaching Teachers 1: Defining the Roles (May 30-July 1; can be standalone or taken with Mentoring and Coaching Teachers 2)
●Mentoring and Coaching Teachers 2:Tools of Mentoring (July 5-August 5; requires Mentoring and Coaching Teachers 1)

Virginia Consortium for Teacher Preparation in Special Education Adapted Curriculum
ACSD Consortium is comprised of the Universities of George Mason, Radford, James Madison, Virginia Commonwealth, and Old Dominion. This program is designed to accelerate the training for teachers with newly-issued provisional licenses and to increase the number of fully endorsed teachers by providing training to full-time pre-service personnel. Email for more information: ODU, GMU, JMU, RU, or VCU.

The VDOE Early Childhood Special Education Consortium grant provides tuition support for teachers pursuing a Master’s degree or fulfilling requirements for their provisional Birth-5, Children with Disabilities license. Courses are offered online through Radford University (RU) and the University of Lynchburg (UL). Tuition support in the amount of $400 per course is available for students who are non-degree seeking ( taking courses to fulfill licensure) or degree-seeking (Master’s degree). All courses are offered online, both synchronously and asynchronously. For more information, contact:

Free Online Courses for Parents of Children with Disabilities: Registration for the Early Childhood Academy Now Open

The Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center (PEATC), in collaboration with the Virginia Department of Education, is offering a free self-paced online course focused on providing information for parents with infants, toddlers, and preschoolers with disabilities.


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A very special thank you to our Intensive Support Mentor Teachers; Keri Lagow, Charlotte Lucas, Tammy Sellers, and Amanda Dailey. We appreciate your dedication to serving each teacher and student daily. You completely reinvent what mentoring is by bringing your unique skills and knowledge to each need. Thank you for your "heart" for children!