Special Education Programs

Ritz Perez, Director of Student Services
Al Oberman, Supervisor of Special Education – High School
Erin Schwenk, Supervisor of Special Education – Middle School
Sarah Feather, Supervisor of Special Education – Elementary
Nekicia Black, Transition Coordinator

The Upper Dublin School District provides students with identified disabilities the supports and services necessary to assist them in developing academic, social and positive behavior skills. Approximately 13% of Upper Dublin students receive specialized instruction to meet their identified needs. The district offers comprehensive programs in all of its schools and works to assure that services are provided through a person first perspective that honors the promise inherent in each child.

The Special Education program in Upper Dublin provides a seamless system of support that begins with consideration of the Least Restrictive Environment with regard to a Free and Appropriate Public Education for each eligible student.   Depending on the level of support necessary, full time, supplemental and itinerant services are considered in order to offer appropriate accommodations and modifications to best meet the needs of students.   Details of services and programs are listed below.

Under the direction of the Director of Student Services, the Supervisor of Special Education oversees all UDSD special education programs, classrooms and special education staff and support personnel. The Supervisor is responsible for implementation of all federal and state special education mandates, oversees curriculum development and support for all students within their programs, and provides instructional leadership across the school district to create an environment that fosters inclusive practices for all students so that they may reach their maximum potential.

At the High School, the Transition Coordinator works to develop specific trainings to develop targeted skills to enable students to successfully enter post secondary work or additional schooling. The coordinator also provides families and students with resources and activities to help access community and state supports. The focus of transition services is to support young adults with special needs as they prepare to becoming an active member of their community and consider post-secondary careers.

Learning Support services are available to students with identified disabilities who need specialized instruction. Each school within the district has Learning Support teachers who provide a wide range of interventions. Services are provided in the least restrictive environment (LRE). The majority of students receive supports and services within a general education classroom. More intensive individual or small group instruction may also be provided by special education staff. Each child’s Individual Education Plan (IEP) outlines the services, supports, instruction, modifications and accommodations needed for the child. IEPs are reviewed at least annually and student progress is reported to parents after each marking period. Programs may include a wide variety of services including academic, social/behavioral, occupational therapy, physical therapy, behavior support, and speech therapy.

Students with significant learning impairments of general mental abilities that impact the adaptive functioning are provided with services to meet their unique needs. Students may receive health supports as well as academic and behavior interventions. Students with intellectual disabilities use a variety of supporting technology to assist them in accessing the curriculum and interacting with others. A dedicated team formulates and carries out individual programs for each student. Students actively participate with their non-disabled peers in school based activities and are fully integrated into school life throughout the year.

The Autistic Support Program is designed to meet the individual needs of students identified with a spectrum disorder that impacts communication, socialization, academic and/or behavioral areas. The district offers programs across all grade levels and uses a variety of programs, methodology and supplemental materials to enhance access to the curriculum. Services are provided to students who exhibit a range of intellectual and academic abilities. The emphasis is on inclusive practices and each IEP is developed with the aim of increasing the student’s independence and social skill competence.

Students with emotional disabilities or other identified behavior issues receive services that focus on assisting the student in developing self awareness and self-monitoring skills. Since emotional issues often impact academic achievement, interventions include academic support as well as related counseling and social /behavioral services. Students and their parents are provided with assistance in accessing community based services. District Behavioral Analysts conduct Functional Behavior Assessments (FBAs) and work with staff to develop intervention plans based on Positive Behavior Support practices.

Preschool to School-Age
Transitioning of preschool students to school age programming is implemented through a collaborative process involving the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit Preschool Section and the School District of Upper Dublin. Children with IEPs who have been identified in preschool or early intervention programs as developmentally delayed, are referred to the School District for evaluation to determine need for special education and related services upon entrance to school age programs (kindergarten or first grade.) The School District conducts Child Find activities to identify students not previously identified through early intervention or preschool programs.

Post Secondary
Secondary transition is the process of preparing secondary students with disabilities for life and career after high school. This includes participation in post secondary education or training, employment and independent living. Transition planning begins at age 14 or earlier if deemed appropriate by the IEP team, as students identify possible post-secondary goals through career awareness and exploration activiites built into their high school programming. The IEP team works with each student and family to select courses of study that will be meaningful to the student’s future and enable the student to complete high school equipped with the pre-requisite skills needed to realize post-secondary goals. Effective transition involves collaboration among students, parents, teachers and representatives providing post secondary supports. Participants in this process can include community agency representatives, Technical School staff and Transition services staff from Montgmoery County Intermediate Unit.

Students with disabilities may require additional services as part of their program. The district provides occupational therapy, physical therapy, contracted vision and hearing services, individual aides, counseling, guidance, behavior interventions, transportation and speech and language services and others as needed.  The student’s evaluation determines the services needed for the student to effectively access his/her free and appropriate public education (FAPE).   The exact nature of the services as well as duration and frequency is determined by the IEP team.