Office of Student Services

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Student Services Administrators:

Pamela Plumer, Ph.D., Director of Student Services, pplumer@northampton-k12.us

Celeste Malvezzi, M.Ed., Associate Director of Student Services, cmalvezzi@northampton-k12.us

Marianne Lockwood, M.M., M.Ed., Associate Director of Student Services, mlockwood@northampton-k12.us

COVID-19 Updates

September 11, 2020
By now I hope you have received our Superintendent’s call noting that our negotiations have reached agreements on issues that are critical to reopening. Our department has been actively participating in these meetings and planning to ensure we can both meet the needs of our students and keep our educators and students safe. This week we received confirmation from the many student services educators who are able to work in person, and we now have guidelines for spaces where students can access services in a safe environment if needed. Those of our faculty and staff who will be working in person have been participating in PPE training. We have received information about student needs from both our original survey as well as phone calls with caregivers. Now that more of the critical pieces for planning are known, next week we will be working closely with our teams to consult about more specific schedules and plans with you. You should expect to be contacted by someone from your child’s team or school, and ultimately, we will share a “COVID-19 Special Education Learning Plan” with you, which will document any changes that may occur with services during this remote learning phase. The state has provided very clear guidance which will be included in this document shared with you after engaging in consultation. A change in the delivery of special education services due to a school’s change in learning model as a result of COVID-19 does not result in a change to your child’s IEP. Special education laws provide protection to you and your child. You will find specific information about your legal rights within the Notice of Procedural Safeguards, which the district provides to parents at least once annually. This document includes sources that you may contact for assistance in understanding your rights. We will be providing hard copies of the “COVID-19 Special Education Learning Plan” as well as the Notice of Procedural Safeguards with caregivers.
 
We understand that this has been such a challenging time and our goal is to provide you with specific plans for your child as soon as possible. We are grateful for the collaboration you have shown as we gathered information about your child’s needs, and our Teams are so very excited to be working with your children again. Our teams will be providing a robust and wide range of supports remotely and in person to meet individual students’ needs.
 
I am grateful for the kindness and compassion we share with each other as a community. We are all trying to determine how to shift given our challenging circumstances, and I look forward to continuing to support you and your family.
 
Take care,
Pam

September 10, 2020

Our office is aware that the district’s first day of school is less than a week away and we have not been able to share students’ schedules/COVID-19 Special Education Learning Plan documentation with most of our families. We are trying our best to ensure that services will occur that match up with the needs of our students while also placing the health and safety of our educators and students as a top priority. Here are a few key pieces at this point.
1) Educators had until today to let the Superintendent know if they are able to provide in-person services. Many of our educators are able to work in person, with appropriate safety precautions in place. We believe that the needs of our students, which we have learned through surveys and phone conversations, will match up with our ability to provide a range of remote and in-person services. Our teams at each building are now planning with earnest their and their students’ schedules now that we know who is able to work remotely and in-person. We have also begun our in-person PPE trainings with our educators. If families have concerns and have not heard from someone from the district, families should reach out directly to our office or their school’s administration.
2) The last hurdle we have is that we still do not know which rooms we will be available to use as negotiations on this topic continued late into last night and will resume during executive session of tonight’s school committee meeting. My goal is to ensure that students can receive in-person services in their home-buildings with appropriate safety measures in place. Until we know which rooms our educators are able to use, we aren’t able to effectively plan our students’ in-person schedules or transportation. We are hoping this is resolved soon.
3) Our understanding is that the school committee has ratified as part of their agreement that the first three days of school will be half days for all students with instruction and consultation only occurring remotely. We realize that for our students who need in-person services, this will not meet their IEP requirements, and this will be part of our compensatory plans for those students. Our goal is to ensure that in-person services could start on September 21, and we will do whatever is needed to ensure this can occur.
I want to leave you with a message that I truly believe in, which is that our teams are so excited to be working with our students again both in-person and remotely. I recently participated in two of our schools’ SE Team’s planning meetings, and the discussions about students and families’ needs were compassionate and understanding. The planning was productive and positive with educators showing how flexible they are given these circumstances. I wish our plans could be more solid at this point, but it’s important to convey that the desire to communicate plans ASAP with families is felt by educators throughout the district.
We will reach out as soon as we can with specific details to families.
Sincerely,
Pam

 

 

 

 

 

August 11, 2020

All families of students with IEPs in the Northampton Public Schools, please complete this survey.

August 7, 2020 Update:

Since the school committee chose our fall model last night, our next step is to start surveying families of students with IEPs (in addition to EL, foster, homeless students and students with no internet access despite attempts to remedy this) to determine their level of interest in remote only, some drop-in services, or more intensive in-person services. Some families may determine that their children will be able to continue with remote learning, especially given the success their children have experienced working with some of our teachers this summer, and the fact that our programming will be more robust this fall than it was in the spring. Once we have a better sense for what services may need to be provided in person, we can begin planning with vigor. Yesterday, we received sample documents from DESE for how we can engage in the process of consulting with families. A key component is that districts “contact the parents of their students as soon as possible to discuss how a given student’s IEP services will be delivered if different than described in a student’s IEP, giving particular consideration to potential changes to how and where special education services will be provided. Using input from that discussion, teachers or liaisons must provide parents with written notification containing specific information about how IEP services will be provided promptly at the start of the 2020-21 school year.” Information from the family surveys will be helpful as we start this consultative process. IEPs still need to be written as if we are fully in school. Any deviations from the IEP will need to be documented in a letter shared with families. Families should expect a survey by early next week. 
We remain committed to ensuring that students receive the services they need, whether in-person or remote if possible, while supporting the health and safety of our faculty, staff and students. 
Previous updates:

Summer Update: Students who are receiving summer programming are being contacted individually by a Special Education Teacher, OT, PT, or Speech Pathologist to arrange a schedule for the summer services. Most academic services are being provided virtually, and some in-person OT, PT is being arranged. We hope to begin on July 13, once we have the proper PPE and have completed all necessary trainings to ensure the health and safety of our faculty and students. Services will only occur in person with parent permission.

Previous Messages:

May 18, 2020

I wanted to give you two updates. First, our department is still in the planning phases of how we will be able to provide summer services to those students whose IEPs call for extended year services. Districts have been waiting for guidance from the state regarding when in-person services will be allowed. As of today’s press conference with Governor Baker, no decision has been made. Last Friday, the guidance we received from DESE is to “plan for continuation of remote learning for the summer” and to “develop readiness for in-person instruction if it becomes possible.” We have surveyed our faculty and have many teachers and related service providers who have said they will work this summer. Our priority is to ensure students receive virtual support until we are able to provide support in-person. We will also be working closely with our department of health to ensure all necessary safety precautions are taken if we are able to return in person sometime this summer. As soon as we have any more guidance, we will share more detailed plans with you.

Also, I wanted to inform you that I have renewed my contract for next year and will be continuing in Northampton. This is such a difficult time, and I am committed to continuing to support your children and our community.

Sincerely, Pam

April 22, 2020

Please see an update from the Student Services Office, here for English and, here for Spanish.

April 17, 2020

Our office has been working with our faculty regarding the completion of our Remote Learning Plans for Services. We have met with almost every school, and those meetings will be completed by Tuesday. We are utilizing the plan that DESE shared last Thursday afternoon. You should receive the document in the next couple of weeks for your child. Please know that while we are trying to complete over 600 plan documents as soon as possible, I have asked our faculty to prioritize the time they are using to provide services and supports for your students. The plans will document the services that we have put in place. And, as I noted in a previous message, those plans may shift over time.

DESE also shared some documents this afternoon. We will be emailing these to families next week, but we are also posting them below.

Family Letter Students With Disabilities – English

Family Letter Students With Disabilities – Spanish

Family Resource Toolbox – English

Family Resource Toolbox – Spanish

Additionally, please see this message regarding Student Services Administrator staffing for the 2020-2021 school year.

April 7, 2020: Click here for our Student Services Remote Learning Letter to Families in English. For the Spanish version of our Student Services Remote Learning Letter to Families, click here.

To view our Special Education Resource Guide for families to use as a resource for this period of school closure, click here. The document also includes a link to technology support in accessing tools like google classroom, clever, etc. in both English and Spanish.

***In addition to our Resource Guide, stay tuned to this site for websites from Related Service Providers, like this one from our OT and PT Departments:***

For our Community Resource Guide for families regarding support for mental or physical health emergencies, food, housing, and unemployment during this period of school closure, click here.

Click here to view the March 18, 2020 Update from the Office of Student Services in English, and here to view in Spanish.

Click here to read a message that was shared on the SEPAC Listserve on March 24, 2020, about staffing changes for Student Services Administrators.

 

The Northampton School District maintains a continuum of services for eligible special needs children. Services include modifications and accommodations provided within the general education classroom to support children with special needs in regular education, specialized instruction in special education classrooms, substantially separate special education programs, and related services. Related services include speech/language, occupational, and physical therapy, psychological evaluation, specialized consultation, behavioral supports, and school adjustment counseling. Special education programs within the Northampton Public Schools are designed to ensure that eligible children receive a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment.

District special education programming conforms to the requirement of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a federal education program enacted in 1975 to improve educational opportunities for children with disabilities, as well as to the requirements of the Massachusetts Special Education Regulations. Programs provide special education and related services to children who qualify as a child with a disability including:

  • Autism
  • Developmental Delay
  • Intellectual Impairment
  • Sensory Impairment
  • Neurological Impairment
  • Emotional Impairment
  • Communication Impairment
  • Physical Impairment
  • Health Impairment
  • Specific Learning Disability

Additional information is available from the Massachusetts Department of Education www.doe.mass.edu, your child’s school, or the Northampton Student Services Office:

Services

  • Special Education: Instruction and related services Preschool – 12
  • Students with Limited English Proficiency Instruction for Kindergarten – 12
  • Early Childhood Instruction
  • School Counseling for Kindergarten – 12
  • Americans with Disabilities Act – 504 Compliance and Monitoring

English Language Learners (ELL)

English Language Learners (ELLs) , also referred to as Limited English Proficient or LEP students, are students whose native language is not English and who are not yet able to do ordinary classroom work in English.  Once students are identified as English language learners, they will receive instruction that is designed specifically for learning English and subject matter content in accordance with laws and regulations.  The Northampton Public Schools provides academic and language development support to English Language Learners (ELL) students at all levels and in all of our schools (elementary, middle and high school).

The English Language Learner (ELL) Program ensures students with limited English proficiency have access to educational opportunities by providing services that assist these students with the attainment of English language proficiency, develop high levels of academic attainment in English, and meet the same challenging State academic content and student achievement standards all students are expected to meet. Services to ELL Program students include instructional services consisting of English as a Second Language (ESL) type instruction and acculturation activities. The ELL Program supports Massachusetts Department of Education’s mission to provide standards-based education through supplementary instructional and acculturation activities.

As an English language learner, your child will participate each year in the ACCESS to assess his or her progress in learning English. Parents are informed of the results. Students will also participate in statewide assessments required for all students, including the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS), which assesses your child’s progress in academic subjects.  Parents will receive reports of their child’s test results in a language they understand.

Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SePAC)

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