The Town of Webb Union Free School District is hosting a series of parent training sessions by Charlie Merrick of the Northern Regional Center for Independent Living (NRCIL) in Watertown, which focus on four topics.
On Tuesday, April 30, the topic will be Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
IDEA is the law which requires and governs special education in New York State. This session will cover how the law came about and contents of IDEA, including the rights of students with special needs and their parents, including the right to a free and appropriate public education.
On Tuesday, May 14, the presentation will be Understanding Your Child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP).
This session will address the contents of each section of an IEP and the reasons for each. It will cover the information with which parents may want to be prepared, prior to an IEP meeting, so they are able to actively participate and contribute in the meetings.
Earlier presentations have focused on effective communication to benefit students, parents, teachers and the community with local experiences being discussed.
The value of dialogue over debate and discussion was highlighted.
Response to Intervention (RTI), was also discussed. Performance of RTI is required of all school districts in New York State.
It is a means of identifying students struggling within the general education setting, and getting them help before they fall so far behind that they need special education services.
Webb’s RTI team meets weekly, according to Mary Starring, School Psychologist and Committee on Special Education (CSE) Chairperson.
That team is made up of reading specialists, Speech and Language, Physical and Occu-pational Therapists, Special Education teachers, the school nurse, school counselors, Principal John Swick and classroom teachers of children concerned.
Benchmarks in subjects such as reading comprehension and decoding are taken in September, January and at the end of each school year.
These are one means of identifying students of concern, Starring said.
In an effort to familiarize parents with terms they may encounter in meetings about their children, Merrick provides definitions and explanations of terminology used in the field of Special Education.
Handouts have included Special Education in Plain Language: A User-Friendly Handbook on Special Education Law, Policies and Practices in New York.
The handbook contains information on topics such as mediation, the special education process, least restrictive environments, parent and student rights, Independent Educational Evaluations, impartial hearings and student discipline.
“Merrick conducted training on other topics last year, and the parents who attended loved it,” Starring said, “so we invited him back for a second round.”
These training sessions are being held in the Webb school library, starting at 5:30 p.m. Anyone interested may attend and needn’t be parents of children with special needs. Please call Mary Starring at the school, 369-3222, if you plan to attend.