Special Services/Chapter 766
Recognizing that individual differences exist among children, the Lenox Public Schools offer a number of special services to its students designed to help them fulfill their individual potential. All of these services come under the guidelines of Chapter 766 of the Acts of 1972 of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Included among these services are screening, evaluation, special education instruction, and services related to the child’s identified need. Related services include speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and counseling. Individual educational plans (IEPs) are provided for children with special needs.
Early Childhood (children ages three and four) and Kindergarten entry screening (children age five) take place each Spring to ascertain the presence of special educational needs and to provide teachers with information about each child so they can plan for each child individually. Beginning with a parent questionnaire, screening covers a physical examination, vision and hearing testing, speech and language, fine and gross motor skills, discrimination and memory, and other mental abilities.
Early Childhood screening is optional on the part of the parent. Kindergarten entry screening is required for all children entering Kindergarten. In each case parents may discuss the results of the screening with the appropriate school personnel.
For most children, the screening is one of the first experiences they may have in the school setting. The teachers involved in the screening take into account shyness or reticence to take part in their assessment of the child’s development. Most children enjoy the screening process.
Grade One students are given the Slingerland Screening Test for Identifying Children with Specific Language Disability. This helps to determine which children might need some early intervention to help them academically.
Following screening a recommendation is sometimes made for evaluation. At this point parents are always contacted and become part of the decision-making team to determine if further evaluation should be made.
Special Education Evaluation and Instruction
In order to receive special education services, through an extensive evaluation process, a child must be found to have a disability that requires specialized instruction. The Special Education Team, including the evaluators, special educator, parents, classroom teacher and related service providers then determine an appropriate combination of classroom instruction and specialized support in the least restrictive environment, based on the child’s needs. Programs are designed to help children who may have physical handicaps, intellectual limitations, specific learning disabilities, developmental and emotional disabilities, sensory, neurological, communication disorders or other health concerns that may prevent the child from making effective progress in the regular education program. Services may be provided through a combination of special educators and paraprofessionals both in and outside the regular education classroom.
If a child is in need of special education services, an appropriate combination of classroom instruction and specialized help is developed. The goal of such help is always to enable a child to progress to the upper limits of his/her ability in the least restrictive environment. Special education takes place in one of our three resource rooms or directly in the classrooms. Programs are designed to help children who may have physical handicaps, intellectual limitations, specific learning disabilities, developmental and emotional disabilities, sensory, neurological, communication disorders or other health concerns that may prevent the child from making effective progress in the regular education program.