Special Education within the San Luis Coastal Unified School District serves students ages 3-22 who meet specific eligibility requirements. Special Education is specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of a child with disabilities.
The district has a firm commitment to the concept of encouraging and facilitating each student to become all he/she is capable of being. In this spirit, the District's Special Education program is dedicated to providing the highest quality programs and services available in the least restrictive environment. We welcome parent participation throughout the IEP process to cooperatively support students in becoming self-sufficient, active, contributing citizens of society.
Each child referred for special education evaluation receives an individual assessment by a team of experienced, highly qualified professionals to determine strengths and needs. Based upon this assessment, the Individual Education Plan (IEP) team meets to determine eligibility and discuss program options. Eligible disabilities include specific learning disabilities, limited intellectual functioning, autism, speech and language impairments, hard of hearing, deaf/blind, visual impairments, emotionally disturbed, orthopedically impaired, other health impaired, and traumatic brain injury.
In order to qualify as an individual with exceptional needs under the eligibility criteria, the assessment must demonstrate that the student's disability adversely affects his/her educational performance and therefore requires special education. A full reevaluation of the special education student to determine continued eligibility must be conducted every three years.
What is an IEP?
The IEP, Individual Education Program, is a written document developed for each public school child who is eligible for special education. The IEP is created through a team effort and reviewed at least once per year. Before an IEP can be written, a child must be determined eligible for special education. By Federal law, a multidisciplinary team must determine that your child both: 1) has a disability, and 2) requires special education services to benefit from the general education program. For more information regarding special education services in our district, please contact your site administrator or Student Support Services at 805.549.1220.
IEP Team Members
The members of the multidisciplinary team who develop your child's IEP include the following.
- The parents/guardians
- A general education teacher
- A special education teacher who has training and experience in educating children with disabilities (required)
- A representative of the school district who know about special education services and has the authority to commit resources
As needed Participants:
- An individual who can interpret the instructional implications of the assessment results
- Individuals who have knowledge or special expertise about your child who are invited by you and/or the school district
- Representatives from transition services agencies, when such services are being discussed
- Your child, when appropriate, and whenever transition is discussed
Contents of the IEP
The IEP guarantees the necessary supports and services that are agreed upon for your child. At minimum, the IEP must contain the following information:
- Student Strengths and Parent Concerns
- Present Levels of Educational Performance
- Special Education and Related Services
- When services begin, where and how often they'll be provided
- Necessary accommodations and modifications in the general education classroom
- The extent, if any, to which your child will not participate with non-disabled peers in the regular class and other school activities
- Whether your child will take state and district-wide tests, with or without accommodations, or have an alternative assessment
- Necessary transition services (age 16)
- Special Factors depending on your child's needs
- Behavior management supports and strategies
- Language needs as related to the IEP if an English Learner
- Communication needs
- Assistive technology devices or services required in order to receive FAPE
Parent involvement in the IEP Process
As equal members of the IEP team, parents of a student being assessed are encouraged to participate in developing, reviewing and revising the student's IEP. Here are some ideas that may help you reduce your anxiety, increase your participation, and facilitate the process:
- Communicate regularly with school staff so you both have a mutual understanding of your child's needs
- Prepare your thoughts before the meeting by writing down the important points you want to make about your child.
- Take someone with you to serve as your support system. If you decide to bring a friend or advocate, inform the school so they are aware of whom you're bringing
- Ask questions if you don't understand the terms being used. If necessary, arrange to meet with individuals after the meeting to review their reports
- Try to stay focused and positive
- Remember you can sign in attendance, but you don't have to agree to the goals or services at the meeting. You can take the IEP documents home to review, get input, and return later.
- Parents must give consent before any special education service may be provided.
- Interpreters for the deaf or for parents whose primary language is not English will be provided when necessary.
- IEP meetings may be held in person, virtually, by teleconference, or in a blended model, upon mutual agreement of all parties.
Specific descriptions of each eligibility criteria can be found in Section 303(a through j) of the California Education Code. Before any action is taken with respect to a student's placement in special education, an assessment must be completed. An assessment is required in the following instances:
- Prior to initial placement in special education program.
- Whenever any significant change in the student's special education placement occurs, including addition of new services, and discontinuation of existing services.
- If the team of qualified assessors, which includes the parent(s), determine that additional data are needed in reviewing whether the student continues to need special education and related services.
- Every three (3) years or more frequently, if conditions warrant or if the student's parent(s) or teacher requests a new assessment when a new Individualized Education Program (IEP) is to be developed.
Autism : "means a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age three, that adversely affects a child's educational performance. Characteristics often associated with autism are engaging in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences. The term autism does not apply if the child's educational performance is adversely affected primarily because the child has emotional disturbance as defined below. A child who manifests the characteristics of autism after age three could be identified as having autism if criteria is met.
Deaf-Blindness: " means [simultaneous] hearing and visual impairments, the combination of which causes such severe communication and other developmental and educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for children with deafness or children with blindness."
Deafness (DEAF): " means a hearing impairment so severe that a child is impaired in processing linguistic information through hearing, with or without amplification, that adversely affects a child's educational performance."
Emotional Disturbance (ED): " means a condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects a child's educational performance:
- An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors.
- An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers.
- Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances.
- A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression.
- A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.
- The term includes schizophrenia. The term does not apply to children who are socially maladjusted, unless it is determined that they have an emotional disturbance."
Established Medical Disability (EMD): A disabling medical condition or congenital syndrome that the individualized education program (IEP) team determines has a high predictability of requiring special education and services. This eligibility category is only applicable for children 3 through 4.
Hard of Hearing (HH): Hard of Hearing means hearing, impairment, whether permanent or fluctuating, that adversely affects a child's educational performance, but that is not included under the definition of "deaf" in this section.
Intellectual Disability (ID): "means significantly sub average general intellectual functioning, existing concurrently [at the same time] with deficits in adaptive behavior and manifested during the developmental period, that adversely affects a child's educational performance.
Multiple Disabilities (MD): " means concomitant impairments (such as intellectual disabilities-blindness and intellectual disabilities-orthopedic impairment), the combination of which causes such severe educational needs that needs cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for one of the impairments. Multiple disabilities does not include deaf-blindness."
Orthopedic Impairment (OI): " means a severe orthopedic impairment that adversely affects a child's educational performance. The term includes impairments caused by congenital anomaly (e.g. clubfoot, absence of some member, etc.), impairments caused by disease (e.g. poliomyelitis, bone tuberculosis, etc.), and impairments from other causes (e.g. cerebral palsy, amputations, and fractures or burns that cause contractures)."
Other Health Impaired (OHI): " means having limited strength, vitality, or alertness, including heightened alertness to environmental stimuli, that results in limited alertness with respect to the educational environment, that—is due to chronic or acute health problems such as asthma, attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, epilepsy, fetal alcohol syndrome, a heart condition, hemophilia, lead poisoning, leukemia, nephritis, rheumatic fever, sickle cell anemia, and Tourette syndrome; and adversely affects a child's educational performance."
Specific Learning Disability (SLD): "means a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations. The term includes such conditions as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia. The term does not include learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities; of mental retardation; of emotional disturbance; or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage."
Speech or Language Impairment (SLI): " means a communication disorder such as stuttering, impaired articulation, a language impairment, or a voice impairment that adversely affects a child's educational performance."
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): " means an acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force, resulting in total or partial functional disability or psychosocial impairment, or both, that adversely affects a child's educational performance. The term applies to open or closed head injuries resulting in impairments in one or more areas, such as cognition; language; memory; attention; reasoning; abstract thinking; judgment; problem-solving; sensory, perceptual, and motor abilities; psychosocial behavior; physical functions; information processing; and speech. TBI does not apply to brain injuries that are congenital or degenerative, or brain injuries induced by birth trauma."
Visual Impairment (Including Blindness) (VI): " means an impairment in vision that, even with correction, adversely affects a child's educational performance. The term includes both partial sight and blindness."
Resource Specialist Program (RSP)
The Resource Specialist Program (RSP) provides direct and/or indirect IEP driven special education instructional services to students who spend the majority of their school day in the regular classroom. Instruction is provided by the RSP teacher and/or the instructional aide in a resource room or in the regular classroom in collaboration with the general education teacher. In secondary programs, services are often implemented in a co-taught or collaborative general education classroom, which includes both a general education teacher and special education staff.
Special Day Class (SDC)
Special Day Class (SDC) enrollment provides for special education students whose IEP goals and objectives indicate the need for the student to spend the majority of the school day in a special class with a Special Education teacher. SDC classes are located at several schools in the District and serve special education students from a specific geographical area. There are two types of SDC classes: Less Intensive and More Intensive.
Less Intensive Special Day Class (LI)
Services include instruction that parallels the general education curriculum, presented at a considerably modified pace, along with significant modifications and requiring a wider range of instructional materials and strategies provided by a special education teacher and support staff. Students in this program require a higher staff to student ratio than is found in general education, but not to the degree necessary for the More Intensive (MI) Program., as these students have mastered or nearly mastered "learning to learn" skills. Instruction is provided in a large group format, and practiced in small group and independent formations as appropriate. Student modifications and accommodations are made per student IEP, resulting in a greatly reduced need for 1:1 instruction. Opportunities for inclusion within a general education classroom are encouraged and implemented as appropriate for each student. Students may take any of the standardized State assessments with necessary accommodations made per the IEP. The overall focus of the program is primarily academic.
More Intensive Special Day Class (MI)
Services include more intensive instruction for students with a severe disability. Intensive instruction includes a higher staff/student ratio than what is typical of a Less Intensive (LI) program. There is also more individual and small group instruction provided by a credentialed special education teacher and support staff. The functional curriculum follows California State Content Standards as outlined in the SEACO (Special Education Administrators of County Offices). The curriculum guide and assessments are significantly modified. These students will typically take the CAA (California Alternate Assessment) instead of the grade-level based SBAC tests, and typically score below basic or far below basic when compared to other students with special needs. The overall focus of the program is the development of learning to learn skills including compliance, attending, participation and the improvement of functional life skills in order to maximize independence while integrating individual and small group instruction addressing core academics. Opportunities for inclusion within a general education classroom are encouraged and implemented as appropriate for each student.
Counseling Enhanced Program (CEP)
CEP classes are for K-12 students who demonstrate a direct correlation between poor educational performance and an emotional impairment which could be supported through placement in an environment that provides therapeutic support within the classroom. The curriculum in these classes has an academic focus with intensive instruction on development of behavior management and appropriate interpersonal skills. The classes are taught by teachers with a special education credential. The programs may be augmented by services from school counselors, psychologists, and other behavioral health staff as appropriate. IEP teams may determine this program to be the most appropriate placement for a student who exhibits an emotional disturbance and requires support in both educational and mental health areas.
Medically Fragile Program
Services are designed to be an intensive program for students 3-22 years of age. Key program components include utilization of a team approach incorporating health services, mobility enhancement, and a functional life skills curriculum. The primary focus is to develop an individualized education program that maximizes each student's abilities and level of independence. In order to facilitate the student's mobility, specialized curriculum is incorporated.
P.R.E.P.A.R.E. Program (Pre-vocation Recreation Education Productive Adult Readiness Experience)
The PREPARE program supports our 18-22 year old students in developing skills in community awareness, self-help, independent living and employment. The academic curriculum's emphasis is one of alignment with life skills such as money handling, time telling, accessing community resources, caring for self, solving problems, reading symbols, icons, other life skills and vocationally based activities that can lead to active participation in the community and employment. Students in the PREPARE program work on functional life skills, developing independence and work readiness skills as appropriate to the needs defined in their IEPs.
When a special education student cannot be served in the public school program within the District, within the county programs, or within state residential facilities, the Board of Education may approve placement in a State certified/licensed facility.
State Operated Schools
The District may refer a student to a state-operated school when additional assessment is required or a residential program is needed to implement the IEP. State-Operated Schools are located in Riverside (School for the Deaf), Fremont (School for the Deaf, School for the Blind, and Neurological Diagnostic Center), and Fresno (Neurological Diagnostic Center). In order to be referred to these programs, the District must demonstrate that the student needs services that cannot be provided within the District's continuum of special education services.
ESY is our Extended School Year program for students that may require special education and related services when regression over an extended school break is coupled with limited recoupment capacity due to the student's disabling condition. A student's IEP team makes the determination for ESY service eligibility. Students may only be eligible for some of the services on their IEP during ESY, as ESY is focused on specific critical skills where regression coupled with limited recoupment due to the extended time off, may occur. ESY services are based only on the individual student’s specific unique needs that are critical to his /her overall education progress as determined by the IEP team. For additional information about ESY please consult with an individual student's IEP Manager.