The Department of Special Services
The Department of Special Services serves approximately 1,300 classified students. We provide instruction and related services to 1,200 students in our in-district programs, approximately 100 students who attend specialized programs in an out of district setting and approximately 55 students who are enrolled in non-public schools. The Department of Special Services also monitors Home Instruction.
Our department, headed by a Director, employs 2 Supervisors, 128 Special Education teachers, 55 Child Study Team members, 165 Instructional Assistants, 14 Nurses, 1 Athletic Trainer and 1 medical doctor. Currently, we provide instruction for students from age 3 through 21. In keeping with state and federal mandates, instruction is provided in Least Restrictive Environment, “To the maximum extend appropriate, children with disabilities should be educated with children who are not disabled, and placement in special classes, separate schools, or other removal from the regular education environment should occur only when the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.” 20 U.S.C. 1412 (a) (5) (B) Students goals and objectives are based on the New Jersey Core curriculum Content Standards and the Preschool Teaching and Learning Expectations: Standards of Quality.
Our 3-5 year old students are currently placed at Pleasantdale School, which houses our Preschool Disabilities Program. Opportunities are provided for full day, half day, and inclusion classes based upon student needs and IEP mandates. At the elementary level, we provide instruction inclusion settings, In-Class Support settings, pull out Resource Program instruction, self-contained classes for students with Learning and Language Disabilities, Mild to Moderate Cognitive Impairments, and students with Autism.
At the secondary level, instruction is provided in Inclusion settings, In-Class Support settings, Resource Program classes, and Departmentalized classes. Our programs mirror the general education programs as much as possible, while providing modifications and accommodations included in the students’ IEP’s. There are classes specifically for students with Mild to Moderate Cognitive Impairments, and Autism. Additionally, there is an extension of the traditional program specifically designed for students between the ages of 18-21. These students have typically completed their State requirements for core academic subjects and are in need of more life skills training in preparation for transition from school to the adult world. Vocational training, social skills and job skills are the focus of this specialized program.
The Child Study teams are comprised of a School Social Worker, School Psychologist, and Learning Disabilities Teacher Consultant and, when deemed appropriate, Related Services Providers. These individuals are responsible for conducting evaluations for students who have been referred for consideration of services and determining eligibility for Special Education and Related Services after an evaluation has been conducted. When a student is classified, he/she is assigned a Case Manager who oversees his/her progress, conducts the annual review, reevaluation meetings when necessary and works as a conduit between school and home.
Speech and Language Therapists and Occupational Therapists are on staff to provide services for students for whom Speech and OT are related services in the IEP’s. They conduct evaluations, develop goals and objectives for the students on their caseload and participate in IEP meetings in addition to providing therapeutic services. The Speech and Language Therapists case manage students who are classified as Eligible for Speech and Language Services. Along with OT and Speech therapists, on staff we have outside contractors for Physical Therapy and Feeding Therapy. In addition, we have two BCBAs on staff who lend support in the autistic classes in the areas of Behavioral Teaching Techniques and Behavior Management Strategies. They also conduct Functional Behavior Assessments (FBA) for both students Eligible for Special Education and Related and general education students in need of behavioral support.