The Department of Special Services is available to assist those students who may experience academic difficulties. When a student is not making sufficient progress in school, a discussion of possible causes and intervention strategies may begin with a meeting that may include the parent, classroom teacher, and principal. In some cases the meeting may involve additional professionals who make up the school-based intervention and referral team.
Sometimes interventions suggested by teachers and others work; sometime they do not. In those instances where they do not, a referral for to the Child Study Team (CST), to determine if the child qualifies for special education services, may be initiated. Even when the interventions were not wholly successful, the prior period of intervention can be very valuable. If a referral leads to a special education classification, a well-implemented, prior intervention plan can provide the CST with additional insight regarding what works or doesn’t work, when developing an individual education program. In addition, the prior interventions illustrate that the referral is appropriate by showing that general education strategies have been attempted, as is required by New Jersey State law.
Once a referral to the CST is made, a meeting is required to take place within 20 calendar days from the date the referral was received by the Department of Special Services. Parents and guardians are invited, and highly encouraged, to attend this meeting that also includes the classroom teacher and the members of the CST (Learning Disability Teacher-Consultant, School Psychologist, and a Social Worker). For a referral that involves a child between the ages of three and five years of age, a speech therapist will also be included in the meeting. The CST will make reasonable allowances to accommodate the schedules of parents or guardians when arranging meetings. A case manager is assigned upon the written request for an evaluation. The Wanaque School District requires that all written requests for referral to the child study team have an original signature. As such, electronic mail requests are not accepted by the District.
Except for extenuating circumstances, New Jersey State Code requires the evaluation process not take longer than 90-calendar days. The evaluation will consist of data collection, review of records, evaluation testing results, observations, interviews, and other pertinent information that was agreed upon in the evaluation plan. Once the evaluations are completed, an eligibility conference will be held. At that time, team members will determine whether or not eligibility criterion has been met to establish that there is an educational handicap. If eligibility has been established, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) will be developed with the IEP team members.
The Wanaque School District offers a continuum of educational programs for our students who qualify for special education which include: resource center, in-class support, self-contained classrooms, autistic classrooms, and preschool disabled classrooms. The goal of the District is to provide educationally disabled students with an appropriate placement within the least restrictive environment.
Ms. Marlene Yanuzzi, Educational Consultant, will assist you if you have any questions or concerns about the process of referral or about special education. Ms. Yanuzzi can be reached at 973-835-8200 ext 1541 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.