Education for all students

IDEA, IEP, 504 Plans; it's a wonder parents, staff or the board of education can make heads or tails of the jargon. It appeared convoluted but Nicole Moss, the director of special programs at Canastota went over the Special Education Review in a presentation before the board of education.

At its regular meeting held Feb. 24, Moss explained the process, the performance of the students and goals of the staff amid all the mumbo-jumbo.

Of the district's 1,623 students, 263 are in the Individual Educational Program and 41 have 504 Plans. 504 Plans are just written, individual plans for that student. Certain people are required to be involved in that's student's educational process including psychologists, physical therapists, speech or language therapists or whatever that child may need to succeed.

Most students with IEP will basically earn a Certificate of Attendance. Of the 24 graduates last year, three students earned Regents diplomas and nine earned local diplomas. Nineteen of the district's students participate in BOCES programs. Some students have multiple disabilities and cannot achieve Regents requirements.

Moss explained how a student is enrolled in the special education program.

"Some take the direct route through a parent," Moss said. They ask to have their child tested. "Others come on a referral from a teacher recommendation or staff member," she said. They go through the school's process or its testing.

Board members seemed to be concerned with the district's high classification rate. Some students cannot be declassified because they were born with a certain disability.

"I'm not saying that they can't but they have a low declassification rate," Moss said.

The numbers also seemed high because it's based on percentages and a lower population would mean a higher percentage rate. The district also had a high number of students with special needs transfer into the district. And Moss said, the poverty level in the district is at 39 percent, which is not considered a low economic rate.

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