Federal regulations define Special Education as specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parents, to meet the unique needs of the child with a disability. Specially Designed Instruction means the appropriate adaptation of content, methodology, or delivery of instruction. In turn, related services are provided to assist students to benefit from their specially designed program. Students who are identified as having one of the specific disability exceptionalities as determined by the Individualized Education Program (IEP) Team are eligible for special education and related services. The Individualized Education Act (IDEA) requires that the disability adversely affect a child’s performance at school.
Every child in Pickens County has a right to a free, appropriate public education (FAPE). However, some students have disabilities that make it difficult for them to learn in the general public school program without special education services. The Pickens County School District assures the public that all students with disabilities between the ages of 3 and 21 will have appropriate programs of instruction and related services designed to meet their individual needs.
Special Education Delivery Models in the Pickens County School System
- Consultation - The special education teacher consults with the general education teacher and student on a scheduled basis to meet the needs of the student. The student typically remains in the general education classroom environment during the instructional day.
- Co-Teaching - Special education personnel and general education personnel work together in the regular classroom to meet the needs of all students in the classroom whether they are considered disabled or non-disabled.
- Alternative Placement (Resource) - Students with disabilities receive instruction in a special education resource room for individualized assistance during a portion of the academic day. Students will typically spend parts of their instructional day in the general education environment.
- Alternative Placement (Self-Contained) - Students with disabilities receive their whole instructional day in the special education setting, typically seeking social interaction opportunities with their disabled peers.
- Separate Facility - Students with disabilities are provided special education instruction in a separate building/facility.
- Homebound Special Education Instruction – a certified special education teacher provides instruction at home for those special education students who are unable to attend school because of severe medical reasons. A licensed physician must verify that their medical condition prohibits them from attending school.
- The amount of time that a student spends in special education/related services is determined by the student’s Individualized Educational Program (IEP). Typically, a team, including school personnel and the parents, develops the IEP.
- In addition to the special education program and related services, there are numerous activities available for Pickens County Special Education students, which may include:
- Special Olympics– Offers students with intellectual and physical disabilities opportunities to compete at the local, area, state, and international levels in a variety of individual and team events.
- Transitional Programs – Offers students with disabilities the opportunity to transition into higher education and/or workforce training.
- Related Support Services are additional services required for a student to maximally benefit from special education. Services may include, but are not limited to: occupational therapy, physical therapy, adapted physical education, nursing services, assistive technology, and transportation.
The District complies with state requirements related to restraint and seclusion as set out in Georgia SBOE Rule 160-5-1-.35. Consistent with that rule, physical restraint will be used only in situations in which the student is in immediate danger to himself/herself or others and the student is not responsive to verbal directives or other less intensive de-escalation techniques. A parent or guardian will be notified in writing each time their student has been restrained. The District maintains written policies and procedures governing the use of restraint.
- The Referral Process
- The Response to Intervention (RTI) Team is a general education initiative and acts as a pre-referral process before a referral to special education is made. A Response to Intervention Team is in place at each school and is composed of pertinent staff members who meet to review their concerns and plan strategies to assist particular students in their general education classrooms and monitor those students’ progress. Parents are a part of this team and have to give consent before any student is evaluated for special education services. The Pickens County Special Education Department is working with each school to make the Referral Process from RTI more timely.
- Least Restrictive Environment
- Of all the terminology relating to special education, least restrictive environment (LRE) is probably the most difficult to understand. LRE means that when the IEP Team is deciding where a student should receive his or her special education services, the IEP Team should first consider the general education classroom with supplementary aids and services first and then proceed from there. Students with disabilities have a legal right to the greatest amount of inclusion, which is appropriate to their unique needs.
- Due Process
- Due Process under special education is a term used for a legal procedure that seeks to ensure the rights of parents if they believe the district has denied their child special education service. Parents or the School System can initiate due process when there is disagreement regarding a child’s identification, evaluation, eligibility, IEP or placement.
- Mediation is a process provides a means by which the parents and school officials can resolve problems through consensus. It is an informal discussion between parents, school officials, and an impartial third party. Either parents or school officials can initiate mediation. Parents and school officials may or may not choose to have an attorney present.
- The Preschool Special Education Program is based at Hill City Elementary.