ABOUT SPECIAL EDUCATION

Special education and related services are provided to eligible students with disabilities ages 3 to 21 and to students who qualify for gifted services Kindergarten to grade 12. Infants and toddlers with developmental delays or disabilities are served through Infant Toddler Services of Johnson County.

Special education in Blue Valley is specially designed instruction that enables students to make continuous progress in school. Special education services are present within each school and are an integral part of Blue Valley's comprehensive school system. The Blue Valley School District philosophy is reflected in the practice of responsibly including students in educational and social activities to the maximum extent appropriate, based on their individual learning needs.

INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES EDUCATION ACT

Reauthorized by Congress and signed into law by President Bush in December 2004, the federal Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA-04) guides all special education practices in the United States. IDEA-04 mandates that each student identified as eligible for special education services receive a "free and appropriate public education" in the "least restrictive environment" and be afforded "due process rights" as delineated in the legislation.

The Blue Valley School District uses compliant practices as described in the Kansas Special Education Process Handbook that is published by the Kansas State Department of Education, which is available online.

INDIVIDUALIZED EDUCATION PROGRAM (IEP)

The Individualized Education Program, or IEP, describes the special education services a student will receive from Blue Valley. Written by an IEP team, including the parents and the student, if appropriate, the IEP includes information designed to communicate to the school and the parents a plan for delivering services and measuring student growth toward IEP goals.

The IEP is reviewed with parents at least annually. IEP progress reports are sent home quarterly.

SCREENINGS & REFERRALS

Early Childhood Screenings - Birth to age 5

  • Ages birth to 36 months: Parents are encouraged to call the Parents As Teachers program at (913) 624-2812 or email Michelle Kelly to schedule a home screening. Hearing screenings are available by appointment. Please call the Parents as Teachers Office to schedule an appointment.
  • Ages 36 months to 5 ​years: Call the Early Childhood Special Education department at (913) 624-2905 to schedule a screening. If you have other questions, please contact Kendall Burr, Principal Early Childhood Programs, at (913) 624-2900.
  • The Blue Valley Early Childhood Special Education Team, meets with community-based day care and pre-school providers to inform these agencies of the child find process. Community-based staff is encouraged to refer children and their families to Blue Valley if a concern arises related to the presence of potential disability or developmental delay.

Special Education Referrals - Ages 5 to 21
Students ages 5 to 21, including those who are highly mobile, migrant and/or homeless, are referred for special education evaluation by school personnel when a disability is suspected. Parents are notified and involved in the process when a concern first arises.

Parents may also request a special education evaluation and the district is required to respond in writing. The need for special education and related services is determined in consultation with parents at each Blue Valley school building site following the completed evaluation process. Parents are encouraged to contact their child's neighborhood schools' principal or school psychologist with questions about special education services and the evaluation process.

Private School Students - Ages 3 to 21
Blue Valley Schools follows state and federal processes for evaluation of students who may have exceptionalities and the provision of special education services to those students who are determined to be eligible. Private schools consult with the Blue Valley Private School Team to problem-solve when there are concerns. Parents may request an evaluation at any time.

Any student who attends a private school within Blue Valley Schools boundaries, no matter where they live, may be evaluated; however, Blue Valley will only provide services to students who are district residents. Out of district students will be referred to their home district for special education services.

Please contact Sara Hoepner, Private School Team Leader, at (913) 239-3331 with questions about services for private school students.

ELIGIBILITY

A variety of tools and strategies are used to gather information to determine whether or not a student is eligible for special education. The evaluation process establishes whether or not a child has an exceptionality (disability or giftedness) and has a need for special education and related services. Students must meet two criteria to be enrolled in special education:

  1. Does the student have a disability?
  2. Does the student need specially designed instruction to benefit from the general education curriculum?

SERVICES

Birth - age 36 months
Blue Valley Schools supports the Infant and Toddler Services of Johnson County. This community agency provides support services to young children who have been identified as having a developmental delay or a disability. Referrals can be made by parents or through community daycare providers and/or physicians. Children who continue to have developmental delays or a disability transition to Blue Valley Schools at age 3.

Ages 36 months - 5 years​
Blue Valley's early childhood special education program offers a range of services characterized by a transdisciplinary, play-based approach. Children with special needs begin preschool services on their third birthday. Decisions for service and placement are made by the Individual Education Program (IEP) team, whic​h includes school staff and the parents/guardians. Services include therapies on an appointment basis, service provision in a community setting, and services in an Early Childhood Special Education classroom with typically developing peers. Specialized Early Childhood Special Education classes designed for young children with autism are also available for those children whose needs cannot be met in other classrooms.

Grades K - 12
Students in elementary, middle and high school receive the educational supports they need based on their IEP. Each student's IEP team determines which services are necessary for the student to achieve the IEP goals which will allow them access to the general education curriculum. Service delivery models include:

  • Collaborative in-class support - A student is served in the general education classroom with special education staff directly providing periodic assistance to the student. Special education staff also works with general staff to design accommodations or to modify the curriculum and/or materials.
  • Learning centers or resource rooms - Students receive instruction from a special education teacher in an individual or small group setting, but spend most of the day in the general education classroom.
  • Center-based classrooms - Center-based classrooms provide highly structured, small group instructional activities for students with moderate to severe disabilities. These students receive intense specialized programming and are also integrated into general education classes to the greatest extent appropriate to their unique needs. Programs are located throughout the district, but not at every school. Should an IEP team decide that the center-based placement option best serves the student, transportation will be provided at no cost.

Ages 18 - 21
Blue Valley's 18-21 program provides services to students who are not ready to transition to a post-school environment. While in the program, students continue transition activities that prepare them to live and work in the community. These young adults develop employment skills and may be involved in recreation and leisure activities, community college classes and volunteer projects.

College Learning Methods for Transition Into Post-Secondary Studies (CLM for TIPS)
College Learning Methods for Transition Into Post-Secondary Studies (CLM for TIPS) is a collaborative program between participating school districts and Johnson County Community College (JCCC). This course is designed to provide college-bound high school seniors who have an IEP or 504 plan the opportunity to experience the realistic demands of college in a supportive environment on the JCCC campus. Topics include, but are not limited to, learning about individual strengths, career interest inventories, money and time management tips, accommodation services in college, life lessons and more. Students will also learn a series of strategies for processing information from textbooks and lectures, and how to effectively study for exams to help them meet the higher level demands encountered in regular college courses.

CLM for TIPS is a 3-hour, elective college credit course. Enrollment is by application only and students must meet the required eligibility criteria. Students who are selected are responsible for their own tuition and transportation. For more information about CLM for TIPS, contact the Transition Specialist at your high school.

Transition services
Transition services are available for students age 14 - 21. Services focus on post-school outcomes so that students with disabilities are prepared to lead productive and independent adult lives. Blue Valley conducts transition assessment(s) and planning as students prepare to move from school to adult living. In order to facilitate a successful transition for students with disability-based IEPs, Transition Specialists in Blue Valley Schools work with IEP teams, students and families to:

  • Identify students' needs and areas of strengths, interests and preferences by conducting transition assessment activities.
  • Use a variety of assessment data for effective transition IEP planning and goal development.
  • Support instruction designed to promote independence through the development of self-advocacy, self-determination, appropriate social and behavior skills, as well as other essential adult life skills.
  • Implement instruction and/or training for staff, students and parents related to best practices for transition knowledge and skills.
  • Coordinate and facilitate vocational training programs in a variety of school and community settings through the Career Development Opportunities Program (CDOP).
  • Facilitate enrollment in appropriate transition programs and area vocational technical programs.
  • Facilitate transition into the district's 18-21​ program for students age 18 - 21 who have completed high school graduation requirements but continue to demonstrate a need for ongoing transition support. (The student's IEP team determines eligibility and placement).
  • Advocate for and provide current information and links to numerous adult services and supports that help students reach their desired post-secondary outcomes.

FAQ

I am worried about my school-aged child's progress. What can I do?
Contact your child's teacher, counselor or principal. They can assist you in determining if other interventions would be appropriate for your child.

I have concerns about my toddler's development. What can I do?
Blue Valley conducts monthly clinics to identify young children with special needs in the areas of vision, hearing, communication, motor and play skills. Contact Denise Campbell at (913) 624-2905 or complete the online form.

We are new to the district and my child has an IEP. Who do I contact?
Contact the school psychologist at your neighborhood school. Staff at the school will schedule a team meeting with you to review the IEP.

What is the difference between a 504 Plan and an IEP?
An IEP is used to plan specially designed instruction and related services necessary for a student to make progress in the general education curriculum. A 504 Plan outlines reasonable modifications needed by a student who has a documented disability. Students who receive 504 plans are not in need of specially designed instruction but rather need modifications that allow them equal access to school-wide curricular and co-curricular activities.

Are there parent support groups that I can contact?
Each Blue Valley school has a parent representative who serves on the district's Special Education Advisory Council. Contact your principal for the name of that individual. The parent representative can assist you in locating district resources, community agencies or support groups.

TRANSPORTATION FAQ

Who determines when special education transportation is needed?
The student's IEP team determines the need for special education transportation.

Do all special education students receive free transportation?
No, special education students will be transported on regular buses and on regular routes whenever possible. Special education students who are able to attend school in their home attendance center, ride a regular school bus and live within 2.5 miles of their school will pay the transportation fee.

What determines whether a special education student is entitled to free transportation?
Free transportation for special education students will be provided when a student's physical, emotional or behavioral condition warrants it, or when it is necessary to transport a student to a school other than his or her home attendance center. Common situations include:

  • When a physical challenge requires a special lift bus.
  • When a student is assigned to a program at a school that is not in his or her home school attendance area.
  • When special education students need transportation to work sites.
  • For preschool students with special education IEPs.
  • When a gifted education student needs to be transported to another school for higher level class offerings.
  • For students who are approved by the IEP Team for the Extended School Year Program.

Who is responsible for transporting special education students?
Blue Valley Schools contracts with a primary service provider for the transportation of special education students. The district may also employ additional providers to transport many of our 18-21 and CDOP students.

How does the student services team request transportation be started?
A Special Education Transportation Request Form must be completed and forwarded to the Transportation Office at the District Office. The Transportation Office then forwards the request to the service provider to place the student on a route.

How much notice is required by the service provider to start transportation for a special education student?
Transportation services will be started as quickly as possible. The normal time allotted is three school days from the receipt of the Special Education Transportation Request Form by the Transportation Office.

How are parents and teachers notified that transportation has been set up for their student?
The district's contracted service provider will contact the parent to confirm bus route information and pick-up time. They will also notify the District Transportation Office who in turn will notify the teacher that transportation has been set up.

EXTENDED SCHOOL YEAR

Students between the ages of 3 and 21 with disability-based IEPs may be eligible for Extended School Year (ESY) services through the Special Education Department. The decision for extending services into the summer or other lengthy school breaks is made by the IEP team.

The majority of students who attend ESY work on maintaining skills that the student has developed during the school year. For these students, the team must consider data that indicates the student would lose skills that could not be regained within a reasonable time period upon returning to school without extended services.

The majority of students who are eligible for Extended School Year attend during the summer for a five week session in the mornings. The service each student receives is individualized and is based on IEP goals that have been attained during the regular school calendar. Related services such as speech and occupational therapy may be continued through Extended School Year based on the decision of the IEP team.

Transportation to and from the student's home will be provided. Accommodations that are provided throughout the school year will be continued during ESY transportation.

ESY FAQ

When will the decision be made regarding eligibility for ESY services?
During the annual IEP meeting, the team discusses the student's eligibility for ESY and reaches a decision about the services. The IEP team may defer the decision until spring. IEP teams are encouraged to make decisions by April 15 so that the district can most effectively plan for staffing, space, and materials for ESY.

How will I know if my student qualifies?
Parents must have meaningful input into this discussion. The team cannot make this determination without parent or guardian input.

What if I do not want my child to attend ESY?
As a parent, you have the right to refuse services. If the school team believes it is critical for your student to attend ESY services and you refuse, the school could file for mediation or due process.

What if I think my child needs ESY but the school staff does not agree?
If parents believe their student requires ESY, all of the parental rights for due process apply to this decision. For more information, download the Parent Rights in Special Education document.

What if I want a summer experience for my student that will increase skills rather than just maintain skills?
The purpose of ESY as delineated in IDEA-04 is to maintain already mastered skills. Some parents choose to enroll their students in more traditional summer school programs or enrichment types of programs in the community.

Where are ESY services located?
Students who are served through our early childhood programs attend ESY services at Hilltop Learning Center. Elementary school students attend ESY at a designated elementary school that is located within the district. Students who are in middle school, high school or the 18-21​ program attend a designated high school. Occasionally a student may need to be served in another setting. This is determined by the IEP team.

Who can I contact with questions?
If you have any other questions about ESY services, please contact your student's special education teacher. Additional questions may be directed to the Special Education Department at (913) 239-4044.​​​​​​​​​

CONTACTS

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