Opinion

Special education in Arlington School District | GUEST OPINION

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the law that ensures schools provide services to children with disabilities. In Washington State, IDEA and state special education law governs how local districts and other public agencies provide early intervention, special education and related services to students from birth through to age 21. Special Education is defined as: “specially designed instruction, at no cost to parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability.”

Students become eligible for special education following an educational assessment that documents a disability and a need for special education services. Special education is in place to provide additional services, support, programs, specialized placements or environments to ensure that all students’ educational needs are provided for. These services are described in an Individualized Education Program (IEP). IEPs describe the educational program that is individually planned for each child and monitored through teaching, adapted equipment and materials, accessible settings, and other interventions designed to help learners with special needs achieve a higher level of personal self-sufficiency and success in school and the community.

Arlington School District’s special education services range from children birth to age three, preschool services for three to five year olds, and programs for students in kindergarten through age 21. Special education services are different for every student and include supports such as academics, speech and language, fine and gross motor skills, vision, adaptive and social skills.

Services for students qualifying for birth to three are provided outside of Arlington Public Schools through birth to three education centers. Parents who are interested in having their child evaluated for services may contact the Special Education Department at 360-618-6215.

The district provides on-site services beginning at age three with the preschool program at Presidents Elementary. The developmental preschool serves children who are demonstrating delays in one or more areas of development including language, cognition, social/emotional, speech and/or motor skills. This program has the primary goal of encouraging the development of critical attributes to communicate, listen and follow directions, solve problems, calmly make transitions and be responsible in the classroom setting.

All of our schools provide support for students with disabilities and we house programs for students with more significant needs at individual school sites. These include services for students with autism, students with developmental delays, and students with social emotional challenges. Students eligible for special education may receive services until they meet graduation requirements or until age 21 in our Transition Program. This program further prepares the students for their future needs, which may or may not include job skills. The goal of the Transition Program is to connect the students to the community and the services available to them.

Arlington Public Schools is very proud of the level and quality of services we have been able to provide for our students with special needs. Our staff includes dedicated teachers, para-educators, speech and language therapists, physical therapists, teachers of the visually impaired, school psychologists and other specialists. We will continue our commitment to all students and their families and strive to provide these exceptional programs for our students with special needs. We truly believe in our focus on every child, every hour, every day.

Connie s is the Director of Special Education for Arlington Public Schools and can be reached at 360-618-6209, or via email at creiss@asd.wednet.edu.

 

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