Every school district in New York State has a Committee on Special Education (sometimes called the CSE). The CSE is responsible for children with disabilities. Cooperstown’s CSE has primary responsibility for making recommendations on classification, evaluation and educational programs for children who require special education.
Several staff members, including special education teachers, general education teachers, speech pathologists, and counselors, provide services to identified students. At Cooperstown, teachers work together as a team to develop and implement individualized programs to meet each child’s unique needs. In addition, the district contracts with Otsego Northern Catskill BOCES for related services such as occupational therapy, physical therapy, assistive technology and services for students with visual or hearing impairments. Cooperstown Central School District’s philosophy is one of inclusion. Students with disabilities are educated in classrooms with their peers to the greatest extent possible. Specialized instruction is provided within classroom settings whenever possible. From kindergarten on, students are educated in general education classes right here in our home schools. Students are removed from general education only when special education and related services provided in the classroom are not sufficient to assist the student in making effective progress in the curriculum.
Program offerings change from year to year, based upon the individual needs of students identified by the Committee on Special Education. At annual meetings of the CSE, student strengths, weaknesses and needs are reviewed and appropriate programs are developed to address those needs. Special Education services are designed according a continuum of services with the goal of meeting student’s unique needs in general education classrooms to the greatest extent possible.
STEP ONE: REFERRAL TO THE INSTRUCTIONAL SUPPORT TEAM (IST)
Many students struggle at various times during their years in school. There are many supports in place through general education, including curriculum and instructional modifications, extra help, tutoring, remedial reading, remedial math, Academic Intervention Services (AIS), speech improvement, and counseling support. The IST can help you determine whether these supports are in place and make suggestions to help you and your child.
STEP TWO: INITIAL REFERRAL FOR SPECIAL EDUCATION SERVICES
If a student continues to struggle, despite the use of interventions and strategies, and the parents and teachers suspect that he or she may have a disability that negatively impacts learning, the student may be referred to a multidisciplinary team called the Committee on Special Education (CSE) or the Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE).
STEP THREE: INDIVIDUAL EVALUATION PROCESS
After obtaining parent consent, the CSE evaluates the student’s abilities and needs. This evaluation has many components, and may include an individual psycho-educational evaluation, achievement testing, classroom observations, and other assessments related to the area of suspected disability (speech language, occupational therapy, physical therapy, etc.).
STEP FOUR: DETERMINING ELIGIBILITY FOR SPECIAL EDUCATION SERVICES
When all of the assessments have been completed, a meeting of the CSE will be scheduled. At that time, all of the evaluation results will be reviewed, and the student’s progress in general education will be discussed. Based on the results of the evaluation, the CSE decides if the student is eligible to receive special education services and programs. In order to be eligible for special education supports, two criteria must be met. First, the student must have a disability and second, the disability must interfere with his or her education. In New York State, there are 13 categories or classifications of disabilities, and each has specific criteria. The 13 categories are: Learning Disability, Speech or Language Impairment, Other Health Impairment, Autism, Visual Impairment Mental Retardation, Multiple Disabilities, Hearing Impairment, Deafness, Orthopedic Impairment, Deaf-blindness, Emotional Disturbance and Traumatic Brain Injury.
STEP FIVE: INDIVIDUALIZED EDUCATION PROGRAM (IEP)
If the child is eligible to receive special education services, the CSE develops and implements an appropriate Individualized Educational Plan (IEP). The IEP is based upon the evaluation results and includes information about student strengths, weaknesses and instructional strategies. The IEP is developed by the team, and is a working document that is used to plan appropriate services, program modifications, and testing accommodations. It is based upon each student’s unique strengths and needs.
STEP SIX: ANNUAL REVIEW / REEVALUATION
The IEP is modified or revised by the CSE at an annual review. At this meeting, the CSE takes a look at the progress the student has made over the last school year, and makes plans and recommendations for the upcoming year. At least every three years the student is reevaluated to provide information on long-term progress and to determine whether or not the student continues to need special education programs and services.
The Committees on Special Education, in accordance with the provisions of Education Law Section 4402, are necessary to ensure timely evaluations of students. The primary responsibilities of the Committee are to make recommendations on classification, evaluation, and educational programs for children who require special education, and to ensure that appropriateness of the regular education program, including educationally related support services and academic intervention services, has been considered.
THE MEMBERS OF THE CSE INCLUDE:
Parent(s) of the student.
At least one regular education teacher of the student whenever the student may be participating in the regular education environment.
One special education teacher of the student or, if appropriate, a special education provider of the student.
A school psychologist.
The District’s CSE/CPSE chairperson who is qualified to provide or supervise special education and who is knowledgeable about the general education curriculum and the availability of resource of the school district. This person may also be the same individual appointed as the special education teacher or the special education provider of the student, or it may be the school psychologist.
An individual who can interpret the instructional implications of evaluation results. Such individual may also be the individual appointed as the regular education teacher, special education teacher, provider, school psychologist, or the district representative.
A school physician, if specifically requested in writing by the parent at least 72 hours prior to the meeting.
An additional parent member of a student with a disability.
Other persons having knowledge or special expertise regarding the student.
If appropriate, the student.
THE COMMITTEE ON PRESCHOOL EDUCATION (CPSE) INCLUDES:
Parent(s) of the preschool child.
A regular education teacher of the child whenever the child is or may be participating in the regular education environment.
Special education teacher or provider of the child.
The District’s CSE/CPSE Chairperson who is qualified to provide or supervise special education and who is knowledgeable about the general education curriculum and the availability of preschool special education programs and services and other resources of the school district and municipality.
An additional parent member of a child with a disability.
An individual who can interpret the instructional implications of evaluation results. Such individual may also be the individual appointed as the regular education teacher, special education teacher, or provider, school psychologist, or the district representative.
Other persons having knowledge or special expertise regarding the student.
For a child in transition from early intervention programs and services, the appropriate professional designated by the agency that has been charged with the responsibility for the preschool child, and a representative of the municipality of the preschool child’s residence, provided that the attendance of that representative of the municipality shall not be required for a quorum.
If your school-age child is having difficulties in school, first, talk to your child’s teacher. There are many supports and services available for students within regular education to help students who are experiencing difficulty. Supports available for in general education include, speech/language improvement services, counseling support, curriculum and instructional modifications, remedial reading, remedial math, Academic Intervention Services (AIS), and tutoring. In addition, each school has an Instructional Support Team (IST) that can help to develop strategies and supports to help students experience success. At the elementary school, students and teachers are supported by two Instructional Support Teams (primary and intermediate levels). Talk to your child’s classroom teacher to ask for a referral. At the junior/senior high school, there are two teams and you may make a referral by contacting your child’s counselor.
If, after supports and strategies recommended by the IST have been attempted, and you, the teachers, and the building principal have not been able to help your child, he or she may have a disability that affects his or her learning. To find out, you may make a referral to the Committee on Special Education (CSE).