Special Services Update


Secondary Changes

This morning I shared with you in google drive a graph showing the programs that are planned in the Junior High and High Schools next year, called "Secondary Changes". You can also see it by following the link in the Superintendent's Message, which is about special education this month. The graph shows what our current programming looks like in our secondary schools and how those programs align to the programs planned for next year. Additionally, the graph shows the program improvements that are being made.

Please take a look at it. This graph is a good illustration of how scattered our current special education programs are across the district. It also demonstrates how resource is being provided in some schools, and how different this level of service is depending on the school. You will notice as you look at the graph that the programs planned for next year are consistent, and as you know will be available to all students in their neighborhood Junior High or High School. It is important that we provide equal opportunity to students across the district, and these changes will guarantee that. It will also guarantee that students are able to attend neighborhood school, which is a provision of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

These changes are being made based on the School Support visit that was done by RIDE in 2013. You can read that report here: http://www.ride.ri.gov/Portals/0/Uploads/Documents/Information-and-Accountability-User-Friendly-Data/Accountability/reports/Warwick_Public_Schools.pdf.

This evaluation found that the special education programs available at the Junior High and High Schools did not guarantee that students were receiving a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment with access to the general education curriculum taught by highly qualified teachers. This is a fundamental tenet of IDEA. The assumption of IDEA is that all students are taught in the general education classroom, and may only be moved into more restrictive settings if effective Tier 1 instruction, differentiation, accommodations, modifications, and the support of related services providers are ineffective in ensuring educational progress. As there is always a wide range of abilities in a classroom, this is a high standard to meet. Effectively, students with disabilities have to work their way out of a general education classroom into a special education classroom, not the other way around.

I am looking forward to these changes, and, as always, I am available to answer any questions or concerns you may have.

Your Tool of the Week is a diagram of the conflict cycle, and how teachers can intervene to prevent a conflict from escalating. You can find it here: http://www.tooloftheweek.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/TOW-5-16-16-Positive-Behavior-interventions.pdf

Have a great weekend,

Jennifer F Connolly, PhD

Director of Special Services