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Blueprint for PGCPS: Supporting Students with Individualized Educational Programs (IEPs)

Background

Students with disabilities deserve a fair shot at success and in some cases require individualized instruction to prepare them for college, the workplace, community, and beyond. We will be making new investments in programs that support these students, with a focus on the full implementation of individualized educational programs (IEP) and 504 plans in addition to providing district-wide training for teachers on compliance and student supports.

Update School Year 2020-2021

PGCPS was able to spend all funds allocated in the 2019-2020 school year for special education. And, PGCPS had a plan to spend at least as much total state and local funds on special education in the 2020-2021 school year. However, due to COVID-19 school closures, PGCPS modified grant expenditures to ensure special education students had the following: 

  • Assistive Technology Devices and software to access the curriculum at home (iPads, Chromebooks with cases and Clicker Stix app Apple Voucher) - Assistive Technology expenditures were used to provide instructional and functional access to all students in three areas: 
    • Access to instruction through Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM) and equipment;
    • Improved Communication Competence through early access to alternative and augmentative communication systems; and
    •  Access to programming and curriculum via tools/services to support delivery of related services. 

The Department of Special Education purchased materials for student use in the home environment during distance learning. Materials included manipulatives kits, communication boards, sensory materials, visual boards, instructional materials and resources. Funds were also spent on print materials. IEP meetings were conducted via teleconference or video platform - part-time funds were needed to support paying 1,437 staff.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, IEP meetings were either postponed or canceled. The Department of Special Education estimated that 4,000 IEP meetings were not held as a result of the COVID-19 school closure between March 16, 2020 and June 15, 2020. However, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that IEP teams meet specific timelines related to special education processes. In an effort to comply with IDEA timelines, the Department of Special Education has held duly constituted IEP team meetings - 2,000 IEP meetings for elementary, middle and high school students during the summer of 2020. 

In addition, 200 Infant and Toddlers/pre-school Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP)/IEP meetings were held during the summer. Each IEP/IFSP team member who does not work during the summer months was paid to attend the IFSP and IEP meetings and complete IEP/ISFP preparation tasks to include assessment report writing and IEP/IFSP development. During the 2020-2021 school year, funding will continue to be used to support IEP development, assessment report writing and evening IEP team meetings for IEP staff members. 

2019-2020 funds were used in the following ways: 

  • Purchase Chromebooks and iPads for students with disabilities. $749,636.00;
  • Pay staff to revise expired Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and hold IEP meetings beyond staff members’ duty days in June 2020. $32,446.55;
  • Purchase materials for preschool and K-12 distance learning student materials for home use. $1,288,734.95; and
  • Purchase assistive technology devices and materials for students home usage. $197,533.06. 

December Survey 2020

Supporting Students with Individualized Educational Programs (IEPs) Update as of April 1, 2021

Due to COVID-19 school closures, and the fact that PGCPS is still required to provide a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to all children with disabilities, even during this pandemic, PGCPS modified grant expenditures. In compliance with Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the following grants awarded for special education have been fully encumbered:

  • Assistive Technology - $714,429 
  • Autism Programs- $153,279
  • Distance Learning Materials for K-12 $1,007,945 
Student Special Education Program Type of Device/ Material Total Number
PGCPS Students Early Childhood/Special Education

iPads

987
None Public Placement Non Public Placement Chromebooks 200
  N/A iPad Covers 1,558

 

PGCPS was allocated $10,114,897 this current school year for special education. And, all funds are expected to be fully encumbered by the end of the 2020-2021 school year. Ongoing activities and expenditures in this current 2020-2021 school year include: 

  • 592 staff members participated in synchronous and asynchronous professional development;
  • Paid 1,437 staff to revise and develop IEPs, and to write educational, psychological and related services assessment reports after school hours, projected costs $120,000; 
  • Obtained a vendor contract (Presence Learning) to provide virtual educational and psychological assessments due to the significant backlog of initial and reevaluation assessments due for students. $800,000.00. As of March 25, 2021 there have been 32 staff who were paid to complete 2,423 assessments; and 
  • Remaining funds (approximately $197,000) were used to purchase PPE for staff at 76 schools who work with the 35% of students who have personal care and feeding needs. 
    • 208,810 masks
    • 41,762 face shields
    • 626,430 gowns
    • 1,164 safety goggles (Early Childhood)

Additionally, in support of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), materials for distance learning for preschool were purchased and will be used to increase accessibility at the schools below. Funding will also be used to support ADA compliance needs at neighborhood schools. Items such as grab bars, automatic door operators, railings installed on ramps, and ramps for portable classrooms have been either investigated for pricing or ordered. 

  • Beacon Heights Elementary School
  • Glen Dales ES, Montpelier Elementary School
  • James Ryder Randall Early Childhood Center
  • Lamont ES - Community Reference Instruction (CRI) Program
  • Magnolia ES, Rockledge Elementary School
  • Potomac Landing Elementary School
  • Princeton ES - Community Reference Instruction (CRI) Program
  • Scotchtown Hills Elementary School
  • William Paca Elementary School

The Department of Special Education in collaboration with the mathematics supervisors are preparing for the mathematics symposium to determine the framework on how to build the capacity of teachers to support instructional delivery with mathematical practices for students with disabilities.  The mathematics symposium will be held on April 28, 2021, and includes experts in the field of special education and mathematics from around the state and country. 

Finally, in an effort to comply with Section 504, PGCPS has placed an emphasis on providing supplies that support student accessibility in the virtual and hybrid learning environments such as face masks, student supplies i.e.pencils, highlighters, and computers. Further, $3,515 in registration fees was spent on 3 office staff members who will attend the 2021 Special Education Law Symposium @ Leigh College to increase their knowledge of special education laws and virtual learning resource programs.