FSSD Special Education News

Doing what's right for our students - one child at a time

December, 2015

As the song states, "It's the most wonderful time of the year!" Teachers may argue that June and July are even more wonderful, but I'll take whatever we are given! As we celebrate all of the holidays in December, several of our own FSSD special education family members are facing illness, mental health issues, financial concerns or family conflict. Please remember our friends and co-workers during this special time of year. Many of our students are not as fortunate as others, so thank you for all you have done for them to have a happier holiday season. We are so blessed!

Have a wonderful holiday! Enjoy your time away to rest and recuperate from a busy first semester.

Beth Herren


615.794.6624 - FSSD Central Office

615.472-3722 - Direct office line

615.554.4999 - personal cell phone


Don't forget to register early for the January 5th professional development sessions. Many of our own are facilitating some of the learning opportunities.

  • Current Legal Issues in Special Education - Mary Kate Boston, Anne Lineberger, Hanni Watson
  • Phoneme Sequencing for Phonemic Awareness - Danette Cravens and Tatum Perry
  • Applications of Trauma-Informed Care, Nonviolent Crisis Intervention - Betsy Bagsby
  • Symbol Imagery and Visualization - Whitney McAulay and Brandi Hayes

There will be other interesting sessions taking place during the day including, Behavior Management 101 by the Autism Foundation and Imagine Learning -PK-4th - ELL teachers, Gina D'Arezzo and Claudia Quezada. Please access the catalog sent by your administrators on Dec. 14th. Register early!

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Please contact Beth Herren if you are willing to volunteer your time for the January 19 parent meeting at Franklin Elementary School. The meeting starts at 6:00 and should last approximately an hour. Thank you for your willingness to give our parents an hour of stress-free time to learn while knowing their children are safe and happy!
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Partners in Education Conference

We will have twenty-two special education representatives at the annual Partners in Education Conference (PIE Conference). The conference is February 8-11, 2016 at the Music City Center in downtown Nashville. February 8 is a pre-conference focusing on RTI2-Behavior. The three days of the PIE Conference (2/9-2/11) will focus on instruction and best practices for all students. This conference, which used to be the Special Education conference, is now inclusive of IDEA and ESEA. Representatives are: Beth Herren, Anne Lineberger, Hanni Watson, Mary Kate Boston, Shauna Sheehan, Crystal Armstrong, Jenny Williams, Marcie Waller, Amy Kelly, Tatum Perry, Mary Oddo, Debbie Higdon, Amy Brannum, April Harper, Jeannette Abbott, Marie White, Jessica Chervenak, Diane Barber, Leigh Ann White, Amber Walsh, Hillary Chambers, and Tonya Iturri. If anyone else wishes to attend, please check with your building level administrator to see if school funds might cover the cost of the conference. The deadline for early registration payment is December 20, so all payments received after that date are $150. Registration closes on February 2, 2016. https://www.tn.gov/education/topic/partners-in-education

Alignment of TN Special Education Framework with Content Standards - Instructionally Appropriate IEPs are Appropriate!

The U.S. Department of Education (USED) recently issued guidance in the form of a "Dear Colleague" letter* in an effort to ensure that children with disabilities are held to high expectations and have meaningful access to a state’s academic content standards. The new guidance states that an individualized education program (IEP) for an eligible child with a disability under IDEA must be aligned with the state’s academic content standards for the grade in which the student is enrolled.


According to the information below, Tennessee's Special Education Framework aligns with the guidance by the USED. This document explains each area of guidance and how our framework coordinates with this guidance. Our Instructionally Appropriate IEPs, when written correctly, meet the standards set forth by the USED. We will NOT return to "Standards-Based IEPs" as some have speculated.


Not a bad way to start an IEP meeting....

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Five of our school psychologists (Crystal Armstrong, Mary Kate Boston, Anne Lineberger, Hanni Watson, and Jenny Williams) and our school psychology intern (Brittany Thomas), accompanied Beth Herren to the 26th Annual TAASE (Tennessee Association of Administrators in Education) Legal Conference. Attorneys from around the country presented information on the current legal issues in education. If you attend the FSSD January 5th Professional Development session, you will learn some of the most recent and important issues. Here are just a few of the things we either learned or were reminded of at this Legal Conference:

  • Don't wait for parents to request an evaluation - it is our duty to be proactive.
  • Refrain from making a diagnosis or suggesting medications without the credentials for doing so.
  • Independent Educational Evaluations - when a parent disagrees with one of our evaluations (or a part of an evaluation) and requests an "IEE", please notify Central Office; we always have the right to do our own evaluation first.
  • It is our responsibility to "Consider" all information - outside evaluations, doctor's statements, parent requests. Consideration does not equal implementation.
  • Medical doctors are no more educators than educators are medical doctors. We do not rely solely on a medical diagnosis or recommendation. Physicians do not prescribe special ed.
  • The school psychologist determines if the student meets the state standards for a specific disability; the IEP team determines if the child is eligible once the standards are met. Remember the 2nd prong: Does the child need special education services?
  • Related Services: OT, PT, Speech and/or Language - Does the child need the specific skill of a licensed professional in order to have access to special education?
  • Do not predetermine. State OVER and OVER that IEPs are drafts until the TEAM comes to a final consensus. Keep copies of the draft document in the file to show changes made during the meeting.
  • Do not EVER EVER EVER say, "We don't do that at this school." or "We can't offer that."
  • Do not put any specific methodology, personnel or specific type of treatment/therapy into the IEP.
  • Be sure to address Extended School Year appropriately.
  • Use the excusal form if a member of the team is not able to attend the meeting. See page 99 in our manual.
  • Measurable annual goals must be linked to the present levels of performance.
  • Send a Prior Written Notice!! When in doubt, send one. If a parent makes a request and the team refuses to do it, send a notice - even if no changes were made to the IEP. If we are going to evaluate - initial or re-eval, send a notice. If any changes are made to the IEP, send a notice.
  • You are not an attorney.
  • You are not a judge.
  • Accept the fact that, sometimes, no good deed goes unpunished.
  • Also accept the fact that, when we do our jobs, the child is the beneficiary!

For more words of wisdom and legal answers, attend the Professional Development on January 5th with Mary Kate Boston, Anne Lineberger, and Hanni Watson.

Click the link below for important information regarding discipline.

Passing the Behavior Consultant Torch

Erin Lait-Hornsby is leaving FSSD and moving to Memphis at the end of this semester. We have loved working with Erin during her tenure in our district. Although Erin is a certified school psychologist, she served as a paraprofessional extraordinaire at FES during the 2013-14 school year and as our Behavior Consultant for the next year and a half. We will miss her calm yet powerful presence.

Renny Henry will move from a self-contained special education classroom at Poplar Grove Middle into the role of Behavior Consultant. Renny has been in our district for the past two years as a special education teacher but also served as a special education paraprofessional during the 2012-13 school year while pursuing her Master's in Education at Lipscomb University. Renny also received her BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) certification in August, 2015. We look forward to Renny stepping into Erin's big shoes!

Goodbye Erin! Although you are leaving the position of Behavior Consultant in capable hands, we will miss you! Much luck to you and your family as you begin this new chapter in your life. Remember, Franklin is just down the road! Visit us often!

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Important Upcoming Events

  • Winter Break - December 19 - January 3, 2016
  • Rising 5th grade Parent Meeting - Honor's Program - Jan. 12 - FIS - 6:30
  • Rising 6th, 7th and 8th grade Parent Meeting - Honor's Program - FIS - Jan. 14 - 6:30
  • SPED Advisory Meeting - January 19 - 3:30 - Central Office
  • SPED Parent meeting - January 19 - 6:00 PM - Franklin Elementary
  • PIE Conference - February 8-11


  • DO NOT - UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES - put services on an IEP without the appropriate professional in attendance.
  • Keep copies of the IEP draft with changes made during the meeting.
  • Upload your documents using PaperClip in EasyIEP - always and often.
  • Make sure all current teachers have signed the IEP - including related arts/special classes.
  • Do you need to provide a Prior Written Notice to the parents? PRIOR to implementing services or evaluations, we must give WRITTEN NOTICE! See the updated section of the manual on page 13.
  • Make sure your present levels are organized by AREA and not by ASSESSMENT - See pages 11-12 of the 2015 Updates (For example, put all Reading Fluency information together - assessments and narratives) When we organize by area, we can determine if the entire present level is exceptional.
  • Read your manual!
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Submit your guess for the first full SNOW DAY of the 2015-16 school year! The winner gets a prize! Send email to herreneli@fssd.org
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A Christmas Poem for Teachers

‘Twas the week before Christmas and all through the school

The children were crazy; I was losing my cool!

Their papers aren’t finished. They don’t want to work.

But when I try to make them, I feel like a jerk!

I’m tired, I’m cranky - these kids have it coming!

But I step back and think, “What a Scrooge I’m becoming!”

So I tune out their chatter, and I try to enjoy

The last days before Christmas with each girl and boy.

They are so excited and buzz with holiday cheer.

And then homemade presents begin to appear…

Be-glittered and fashioned with craft sticks and glue.

And of course there’s a “Best Teacher” mug…or two.

The last day, they come as candy-crazed creatures.

But then it’s two weeks of break…

I love being a teacher!

---------Amy Oelschlager


One night a Viking named Rudolph the Red was looking out the window when he said, “It’s going to rain.”

His wife asked, “How do you know?”

“Because Rudolph the Red knows rain, dear.”

Joke submitted by Jorgen R., Prunedale, Calif.

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