Special Education Updates & Resources

PHA @ Home Special Education

Dear Families,

As we prepare for the beginning of a school year like no other, I am reaching out with some information, and my ongoing appreciation for your support for your students and collaboration with our team at PHA. I hope that you have all found some moments for rest and relaxation this summer and enjoyed time with friends and family.  Please read this letter carefully as it will contain important information about what to expect as a parent of a student receiving special education services.

IEP Services: Students will receive all services documented in their IEPs. How and where services are provided will look different in a remote or hybrid context.We want to be sure all families are well aware of how services will be provided and receive a consistent, predictable schedule.  Each student’s case manager will be contacting families beginning the week of September 8 to discuss your child’s IEP services and develop a plan for service delivery in collaboration with you. You will receive documentation of how and when services will be provided after you speak with your child’s case manager. In order to ensure that students receive high quality instruction, we will ensure that each student has a predictable schedule of classes, special education services, and any therapies required. Services will include structured learning time with face to face time with service providers. Service providers may also assign structured learning activities to be completed offline but these will always be paired with face to face instructional time.

Evaluations and Reevaluations: Students who are currently participating in a special education evaluation or reevaluation will continue to do so. Currently, we plan to conduct evaluations in person with safety protocols and social distancing in place. If your student is due to participate in a special education evaluation our school psychologists will be reaching out to schedule a testing day with you. We are so pleased to have two new school psychologists joining our team this year. Alyssa Penney apenney@phacs.org will be primarily working with students in grades K-6 while Natalie Collins ncollins@phacs.org will primarily be working with students in grades 7-12. If you have any questions or concerns about special education evaluations, please do not hesitate to reach out to them.

IEP Meetings: As we continue to prioritize the health and safety of our students, families, and staff, many IEP meetings will continue to be held remotely with parental consent. As always, your input and collaboration in the development of your child’s IEP is critical. We very much appreciate your continued support even in this virtual environment!

High Needs Students: While Prospect Hill Academy knows that our students will have access to a robust remote learning experience this fall, we are also tasked with prioritizing in person instruction for our high needs students. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has released criteria to help schools identify high needs students. Students who meet the following criteria have been identified as a high needs student at Prospect Hill.

  • Students already identified as “high needs” through the IEP process on the IEP form entitled “Primary Disability/Level of Need-PL3.” Such students must meet at least two of these criteria:
    • Services provided outside of the general education classroom;
    • Service providers are special education teachers and related service providers;
    • Special education services constitute more than 75% of the student’s school day;
  • Students who cannot engage in remote learning due to their disability-related needs;
  • Students who primarily use aided and augmentative communication;
  • Students who are homeless;
  • Students in foster care or congregate care; and/or
  • Students who are dually identified as English learners, SEI

If you are the parent of a student who has been identified as a high needs student, you will receive additional information in the coming days. While it would certainly be our hope to bring as many students into the building as possible, there is extremely limited capacity for in person instruction while maintaining and prioritizing the health and safety of our students, families, and staff members. 

Family Forum: We will be hosting a virtual family forum to further share this information and talk with you about any questions, concerns, hopes, or worries you have for this coming school year. The family forum has been scheduled at two different times to accommodate different schedules. Please choose the one that works best for you. You will receive an invitation to these meetings via email and they will occur on Zoom.

Date 1: Thursday, September 3 at 5:30 PM
Date 2: Friday, September 4 at 9:00 AM

As always, I am endlessly grateful for the immense amount of support you have provided for your students over the past many months. We are very much looking forward to seeing them again online and to collaborating with you on an ongoing basis to provide them with a rich learning experience this year. Please reach out to me at any time with questions, concerns, or ideas at abradley@phacs.org.

Alison Bradley
Director of Student Services
Prospect Hill Academy

Back-to-School Letter from DESE
This letter contains important updates about what the Department of
Elementary and Secondary Education is doing to support students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) as schools reopen this fall.
Special Education Resources