Overview of Special Education Efforts

Overview

The Georgetown School District strives to meet the needs of all children enrolled in grades preschool-grade twelve. Children are identified as having special educational needs through staff and/or parent referral for evaluation. The special education process is steeped in regulation from determining eligibility for services, the development on the Individualized Education Program, and the determination for placement. This program description guide is designed to present descriptions of the in-district programs as well as the entry/exit criteria that guides Teams in the decision making process.

In developing the in-district programs we are mindful of the regulations that guide class size and age span for self-contained programs for children with special education needs. As stated in regulation:

“(6) Instructional grouping requirements. When eligible students aged five and older receive special education services for some or all of the school day outside of the general education environment, the school district shall make every effort to maintain the student’s access to the general curriculum and participation in the life of the school. The school district shall devote resources to develop the school district’s capacity for serving such eligible students in less restrictive alternatives.

(a) Programs serving young children shall meet instructional grouping requirements of 603 CMR 28.06(7).
(b) The size and composition of instructional groupings for eligible students receiving services outside the general education classroom shall be compatible with the methods and goals stated in each student’s IEP.
(c) Instructional grouping size requirements are maximum sizes and school districts are expected to exercise judgment in determining appropriate group size and supports for smaller instructional groups serving students with complex special needs. When eligible students are assigned to instructional groupings outside of the general education classroom for 60% or less of the students’ school schedule, group size shall not exceed eight students with a certified special educator, 12 students if the certified special educator is assisted by one aide, and 16 students if the certified special educator is assisted by two aides.
(d) Eligible students served in settings that are substantially separate, serving solely students with disabilities for more than 60% of the students’ school schedule, shall have instructional groupings that do not exceed eight students to one certified special educator or 12 students to a certified special educator and an aide.
(e) After the school year has begun, if instructional groups have reached maximum size as delineated in 603 CMR 28.06(6)(c) and (d), the Administrator of Special Education and the certified special educator(s) providing services in an instructional group may decide to increase the size of an instructional grouping by no more than two additional students if the additional students have compatible instructional needs and then can receive services in their neighborhood school. In such cases, the Administrator must provide written notification to the Department and the parents of all group members of the decision to increase the instructional group size and the reasons for such decision. Such increased instructional group sizes shall be in effect only for the year in which they are initiated. The district shall take all steps necessary to reduce the instructional groups to the sizes outlined in 603 CMR 28.06(6)(c) and (d) for subsequent years.
(f) The ages of the youngest and oldest student in any instructional grouping shall not differ by more than 48 months. A written request for approval of a wider age range may be made to the Department, which may approve such request.
(g) Instructional group sizes in all programs approved under 603 CMR 28.09 shall be limited to those outlined in 603 CMR 28.06(6)(d), and no such instructional groups shall have an age range greater than 48 months.”

These requirements guide our staffing and grouping. Additionally, the Individual Education Program as determined by the special education Team determines the need for one-to-one staffing, therapy services and other services. Once a Team determines service for a child, the parent signs the Individual Education Program and the program is implemented. All decisions are made in the Team process and by regulation cannot be changed or modified unless another Team meeting is held to make those changes. No program or placement will or can be implemented until parental permission is gained through the signed special education documents.