By LCHS 7/8 Principal, Dr. Jarrett Gold
As I was thinking of topics for this newsletter article, I reflected upon my 6 years of work in this District, with duties including the oversight of the services provided to special needs students at LCHS 7-12. 12% of our students receive Special Education (SPED) services. SPED is broken down into two main categories based on disability levels, mild to moderate or moderate to severe. The vast majority of our SPED students have disabilities in the mild to moderate range and have qualified for services based on the impact of a disability on a student’s educational experience. Some of the most common eligibility criteria are: Speech & Language Impairment, Other Health Impairment (ADD/ADHD), Autism, Emotionally Disturbed, Specific Learning Disability (SLD), and others. Students are placed in the least restrictive environment which may include General Education (GE), Resource Specialist Program (RSP), or Special Day Class (SDC).
With educational supports, SPED students are as capable of success as their peers in general education. Through accommodations and/or modifications to the regular school program these students are able to access the same curriculum and demonstrate competency in all areas of school. Some accommodations include preferential seating, extended time on or differentiated homework/classwork/projects, modified assessments or other adjustments identified by the student’s Individual Education Plan (IEP) team. The IEP includes specific goals for the student that are evaluated regularly, as well as other supports based on student’s individual needs.
Here are some of the ways 7/8 staff supports our SPED students. At the end of each school year, the counselors, psychologist, SPED case carrier, and I meet to make arrangements for every 8th grade SPED student transitioning to 9th as well as every 6th grade student transitioning to 7th. During these transition meetings we review goals and objectives, meet the new team the student will be working with and construct the best schedule of classes for the student.
Each of our 7/8 SPED teachers supports 24-28 students and is the main contact person for that student’s educational plan. These teachers design and support the implementation of their IEPs and work with other teachers to ensure that accommodations are being implemented in all settings. Our teachers work extremely hard to make sure that these supports are in place in order for our SPED students to be successful.
Best Buddies, a popular program introduced by our SDC teacher, supports our SPED students in the social domain. The participants in this program support relationship building between our general education students and our SPED students. Students meet once a week to engage in different activities while learning from one another and appreciating each other’s differences and similarities. Inclusion is one of the most important goals of this club. The club also promotes compassion, acceptance and friendships among all students.
Our SPED teachers are primary advocates for their students and care deeply for their well being and success. Dr. Tamara Jackson, the Director of SPED, oversees the entire program for LCUSD. Our teachers at 7/8 are Mr. Nathan Howe, Mr. Ray Pancost, Ms. Melissa Castillo, and Ms. Michelle Laska. Our counselors, Ms. Shannon Brascia and Ms. Allison Dalbeck, along with our School Psychologist Ms. Megan Thomas, are committed members of the support team. Lastly, we have 43 paraprofessionals at LCHS who work one on one with individual students or support them within the RSP/SDC classes.
Personally, I’d like to thank our team of staff members for supporting our SPED students and ensuring their success.